Monday, November 3, 2014

Essential Oils 101 : Make Over Your Medicine Cabinet

Welcome to the Healthy for the Holidays original blog series! I'm so thankful you're here - and I'm really excited about the opportunity to introduce you to some of the wellness industry's top experts, wellness enthusiasts and health warriors! The goal of the series is to provide you with information that will allow you to make this holiday season the healthiest ever! Check back every Monday and Thursday in the coming weeks for brand new, original content.

Today's post is all about essential oils. These heavenly little liquids have been around since practically the beginning of time (seriously, they're in the Bible!) and they've been helping us mere mortals ever since. They can relax us and help us achieve maximum health. 

With flu season officially upon us, Fall is a great time to take a few minutes to evaluate what we have in our medicine cabinets and how essential oils can replace some of the chemical-filled pills we often take during this time of year. 

My guest today is Julie Mahoney, an essential oils enthusiast and Young Living independent distributor based in the Sacramento, California area. I'm really excited to feature her here on the blog today - she's got lots of great stuff to say and she's also my cousin. Which, of course, means she's extra awesome! 

So, Julie, I'm so happy to "chat" today about essential oils! First, for those of us who are new to essentials oils, what exactly are they? 

Thanks so much for having me! I can’t stop talking about Essential Oils and how much I love them, so I’m excited to share.  An essential oil is the aromatic, volatile liquid that is within many shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes and seeds, that is usually extracted through steam distillation.  The chemistry of an essential oil is very complex and may consist of hundreds of different and unique chemical compounds.  They are highly concentrated and far more potent than dried herbs because of the distillation process that make them so concentrated.  They are powerful antimicrobials and if stored properly (and are 100% pure) they do not go rancid/expire. I like to consider them nature's medicine cabinet! We are making over traditional medicine cabinets and replacing them with essential oils every day! 

Why are essential oils so effective in helping keep our bodies functioning well?

Essential oils have been a part of history since the beginning of time and are considered by many the missing link in modern medicine.  They’ve been used medicinally to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses and to combat insect, bug and snake bites.  In addition to treating all kinds of mysterious ailments, oils and extracts stimulate tissue and nerve regeneration and they also provide wonderful fragrances to balance mood, lift spirits and dispel negative emotions.  They are a natural option to help with our bodies multitude of ailments.

How exactly are essential oils used? 

There are 3 main ways to use essential oils ... Topically, Aromatically & Dietary/Internally.  It's most important to always read the labels on the bottle as it should provide instructions on what ways are safe to use and if dilution is suggested.  

An additional note about safety : if you have further concerns or questions consulting a health professional is encouraged.   Every person and body is different and may respond differently to essential oils.  (Please note that essential oils are not necessarily an expertise of your personal health professional and research is always encouraged prior to use). 

Topically – apply the essential oils directly to your skin. You can do this via a carrier oil or “neat”.   If needed, measure your carrier oil (coconut oil, grape seed oil, extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil etc) into the palm of your hand or in a glass container.  Carefully tip the essential oil bottle and place the needed drops directly into the carrier oil. If in a glass container after mixing together place oil mixture into your palms and rub them together then massage onto the desired point of application. If using neat you can drop the essential directly on your point of application or use a roller fitment to roll onto your skin.  

Click here for more information about topical application. 

Aromatically – inhale/smell via several different methods. Aromatically using your oils can influence the emotional center of the brain.  When fragrance is inhaled the odor molecules travel up the nose and are trapped by the olfactory membranes.  When stimulated, the lining of nerve cells triggers electrical impulses to the olfactory bulb in the brain.  Because the limbic system is directly connected to the parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance, essential oils can have profound physiological and psychological effects.  The sense of smell is the only sense directly linked to the limbic lobe of the brain and emotional control center.  Anxiety, depression, fear, anger and joy all emanate from this region.  

Here are the 3 different methods to use your essential oils aromatically: 
Method 1 – Inhale directly – simply smell them.  You can rub a drop or two in the palms of your hands and cup your nose, or just inhale directly from the bottle.  
Method 2 – Diffuse the oils using a diffuser, which disperses the oil in a micro-fine vapor into the air.  The diffuser will not heat the oils, thus ensuring full benefits, (extreme heat can damage important constituents in the oil).  
Method 3 – Carefully pour hot water into a glass bowl & add a few drops of essential oil.  Cover your head and bowl in a tent like fashion with a towel.  Breathe deeply and slowly.  

Click here for more information about aromatic application. 

Dietary/Internal use – ingest via several different methods.  Please note only 100% pure essential oils, proven safe and labeled as dietary supplements should be used internally.  Dilution and dosage is dependent on the age, size and health constitution of the individual.  Follow the recommended dosage on individual product labels to ensure safety or seek advice of a health professional before administering oils internally.  

Not all essential oils are suitable or recommended for internal use.  Always consult your oil bottle labels and do proper research to ensure your essential oils are 100% pure and not blended with any additives, chemicals or fillers.  Young Living Oils are 100% pure due to our Seed to Seal guarantee, although this purity cannot be confirmed for any other companies' products. It's very important to gather information about what is in the bottle before ingesting. In order to be labeled “Pure” there only has to be 10% of pure essential oil in the bottle.  If its not labeled as 100% pure, do not ingest. 

There are several different ways you can internally use essential oils: 
Method 1 – using Capsules – put several drops of essential oil into an empty capsule, add carrier oil (if necessary or preferred), shake the capsule and swallow with a full glass of water. 
Method 2 – via Water/Rice Milk  - add 1-2 drops of essential oil to a glass of water or rice milk, stir and drink.  Please note you should always use glass, never plastic as citrus oils will pull toxins out of plastic.  Method 3 – drop directly onto tongue – exercise extreme caution when using this method as many oils are very strong and should be tested by pouring a single drop onto a spoon and tasting a small portion to determine the amount of oil to be used. 
Method 4 – using a spoon of honey – pour a couple of drops of essential oil into a spoon of honey then swallow.  Exercise caution when using this method as well due to the strength and potency of directly consuming essential oils.  

Click here for more information on internal application. 

As we head into a time of year when many of us will come down with colds and flus, what can we be doing with essential oils to help our immune systems stay strong and healthy? 

Well I would say the first step would be to use essential oils! :) 

Get a Young Living Premium Starter Kit that includes 11 popular essential oils, a diffuser, samples and helpful literature to get you off to a great essential oils start! The kit will help you boost your immunity and start fighting off those cold and flu germs that seem to be all over the place these days. 

One of my favorite essential oils is a blend of several oils called ThievesRubbing a drop on the bottom of your feet or taking internally via a capsule can help relieve cold and flu symptoms.  For a sore throat you can add a couple of drops to warm water and gargle or drink.  Diffusing thieves can help kill mold and other airborne germs, plus it smells like Christmas! 

NingXia Red® is an incredible antioxidant and immune support supplement. It combines the extraordinary wolfberry superfruit with 100 percent pure essential oils in a powerful, whole-body nutrient infusion. The benefits of the legendary Ningxia wolfberry have been sought after for centuries, and ongoing research continues to yield exciting, new health-supporting properties. Ningxia Red is the number one antioxidant product on the market today.  Just 1oz of it has the antioxidant power of: 34 large onions, 100 oranges, 814 blueberries, 22 medium carrots, 10.85lbs of spinach, 55.33lbs of almonds, 59 broccoli florets, 73 strawberries & 93 apples. 

Another essential oil that is great for building immunity is Frankincense (yep, it’s one of the oils the Three Wise Men brought to baby Jesus!).  Taking it internally (along with Thieves in a capsule or adding a couple drops in 1oz of Ningxia Red) can help boost immunity. Frankincense also has a long list of other amazing attributes for our health! 

If we end up getting sick, what are some common remedies that can help us get through an illness as quickly as possible? 

In addition to the few mentioned above (Thieves, NingXia Red & Frankincense) here are a few other essential oils that help with common symptoms:

RC – This essential oil blend gives relief from colds, bronchitis, sore throats, sinusitis, coughs and respiratory congestion.  It decongests sinus passages, combats lung infections and relieves allergy symptoms. 

Peppermint – (included in the starter kit) - rub several drops on the bottoms of feet, back, armpits and crown to relieve fever (mix with carrier oil before applying to children).  This oil is also incredible to help with minor headaches, heartburn & acid reflux, nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, aches and pains.

Lavender – (included in the starter kit) -  A very popular essential oil due to its many uses, Lavender is great for alleviating rashes, dry, chapped or irritated skin, soothing minor burns, relaxing muscles and tension, it promotes relaxation and peaceful sleep and smells amazing too!

I'm a big proponent of sleep. I've seen in my own life how much quality sleep impacts my autoimmune symptoms and I know from my research that getting adequate sleep is crucial to the healing process. How can essential oils help us all sleep better?  

I have to say that essential oils have changed my life from 10pm – 7am!! It was the first item on my list of things I wanted to stop using medicine for and I am proud to say I no longer need to take a sleeping pill to get a full, restful night of sleep!  

While there are several oils that can help with sleep, my personal “sleep blend” is comprised of Peace & Calming, Valor, Cedarwood and Lavender. I like to diffuse and use these topically at night.  They can be used all together, individually or whatever combination of them works best for you. Peace & Calming (included in the starter kit) is a blend that does just that – promotes peace and calming. Used on the back of the neck, behind the ears, on the chest and feet for soothing & relaxing, release of tension, to help curb mid-night waking, and overall restful sleep.  It  also helps to dampen tensions and uplift sprits, reduces depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia.  Diffusing this one in particular can also help with teeth grinding. Valor (also included in the kit) has been an incredible aide in keeping couples happy because it can help combat snoring. If you sleep with a snorer, you need this essential oil in your life! Just apply a drop to each big toe, on the wrists and behind the ears and prepare for a night of quiet, sound sleep.  Cedarwood applied to big toes, wrist and behind the ears can stimulate the limbic region of the brain and the pineal gland which releases melatonin. It helps me mentally relax and calm down so I am able to fall and stay asleep through the night. Lastly, Lavender makes another appearance.  Applied to feet, chest, wrists, behind the ears and even rubbed in your palms then swiped over your pillow and diffused can really help the body relax and promotes peaceful sleep.

Let's talk safety. What should a person brand new to essential oils know before adding them to their personal wellness practice? 

I’m so glad you asked, safety is super important when using essential oils. As I mentioned above, reading the labels is absolutely necessary. Always read every label to determine the safes and best way to use that particular oil.  Another thing to keep in mind is that essential oils are very potent. Listen to your body and when in doubt at all, dilute and use sparingly.  A little can go a long way.  Some essential oils are stronger than others and how you individually respond to them may be different than someone else.

Can essential oils and prescription medicines be used at the same time?

According to David Steward, PHD, DNM: 

“I researched essential oil/drug interactions thoroughly when I was writing my chemistry book and was unable to find a single citation or publication that indicated any adverse reactions between drugs and essential oils anywhere.  If there is a problem between essential oils and pharmaceuticals, it must not be a serious one since no medical reference I checked referred to the topic.  There were some precautions about over-using essential oils by themselves, but I found no publication, by a health care authority who uses both EO’s and prescription drugs, that mentioned any such problems.”  

One thing to note, however, is that Grapefruit essential oils may cause “the grapefruit juice effect” that may increase the bioavailability of prescription drugs in the body.  The chemical composition of grapefruit juice and essential oil varies, as does the exact chemical components between different varieties of grapefruit.  Essentially, there is no proof that the same reaction will occur between high blood pressure medication and the grapefruit essential oil as that of the juice and medication.  As always though, check with your health professional before making any medical decisions. 

I also highly encourage anyone using or interested in essential oils to please do your research.  When I started looking into the world of essential oils, I ultimately decided to use only Young Living products because of their Seed To Seal Guarantee. Young Living sets the standard for purity and authenticity of their products by carefully monitoring every step of the production of oils from beginning to end through their unique Seed to Seal process. From planting seeds that are verified for their essential oil potential by experts, worldwide farming and harvesting methods, one time steam distillation, strict in and out of house testing to ensure there is no diluted, cut or adulterated oils, and controlling all of the bottling, sealing and shipping of their products. This unsurpassed commitment to quality means that you can be confident that their essential oils and oil-infused products you use are safe, 100% pure and effective. Their unmatched commitment to quality, more than 20 years in business and huge variety of products offered makes them my one & only recommended choice.  

I also highly recommend the Essential Oils Pocket Reference Guide.  This affordable guide provides valuable information about how essential oils work, how to safely use them, Young Living's single oils and blends, techniques for application and personal usage (including symptoms and recommendations). It is also a reference for my information shared above.

Another great, informative guide for families new to essential oils is Gentle Babies. It includes Essential Oils and Natural Remedies information, and covers topics such as Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infants and Young Children. 

How about kids? Will little ones benefit from essential oil use? 

Yes, most definitely.  Essential oils are great for the whole family! I think the key thing to remember when using oils with babies and kids is safety. You want to ensure you don't use essential oils incorrectly or overuse them.  Little bodies are obviously a lot smaller than adults and dilution is highly recommended and necessary for most essential oils.  As I mentioned above, the Gentle Babies book can be a great resource for how to use them safely with little ones.  There are countless families who have been able to use essential oils to help with infertility, pregnancy, post-partum care and of course with their babies and kids for sleep, cold and flu symptoms, teething, digestion problems, colic, skin related issues and the list goes on. 

This information has been great! Where can we learn more about EOs?

Some of my favorite places to learn more are the Young Living website, the Young Living Facebook page (which has has great information, videos, giveaways & more) and the Young Living YouTube page (featuring a ton of information-packed video resources). 

Isn't this awesome? I'm really looking forward to stepping up my EO practice this year! If you'd like to contact Julie for further information about essential oils and the many ways they can help you and your family, she would be more than happy to hear from you! Please feel free to contact her via email:, through her Facebook page - , or by phone – 916.233.8118.  Additionally, If you are interested in getting a Premium Starter Kit to make over your medicine cabinet you can order online by clicking here. If you have any questions about the ordering process, or additional questions not answered here, please contact Julie.

And of course, 'tis the season of giving! I'm really thrilled to give away one copy of the Essential Oils Pocket Reference Guide that Julie mentioned earlier in this post. To enter, comment, tweet and like my Facebook page … and then click here to participate on Rafflecopter

Giveaway ends on Sunday, November 16 and I'll announce a winner on Monday, November 17! 

Good luck and have a very healthy holiday season! 

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