Keeping Perspective on Essential Oils
by Cassie Slaybaugh
All articles written by students are the opinions, research and voice of the student and not Heart of Herbs Herbal School. We encourage our students to explore and grow in their profession.
In recent times, I have observed a great increase in interest in essential oils. Many people are finding essential oils to be an enjoyable and natural addition to their daily lives. While a lot of good information is available, not everything out there is helpful. Here are five general principles to remember when considering essential oils.
First, essential oils are a concentrated liquid of the essence of a plant, so a little goes a long way. Each essential oil has its own unique chemical makeup that can impact the body in different ways. These properties allow us to use essential oils to improve our quality of life. However, we must be well educated when using or recommending essential oils so that the intended results are achieved. Some experts suggest that essential oils are more powerful when more diluted. The wrong dilution can effect an opposite result than what is desired, or even cause reactions. So, make sure you have good resources to consult when using essential oils.
Second, everyone is different. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone has different health circumstances and different experiences. Just because your friend swears that lemon EO killed her cold, doesn’t mean that it is right for another individual. Again, knowledge regarding individual oils is supremely important, but knowing the person is also necessary for a successful experience. Our attitudes and experiences affect our health as much as our physical constitution does. So be sure to take into account the individual before applying a particular essential oil.
Third, aromatherapy is a form of therapy. Every type of therapy and medicine has its place in our culture, and each type ought to be appropriately respected. The use of essential oils has the intention of altering the disposition of an individual. When using essential oils, it is important to factor in all other forms of treatment/medicine an individual is undergoing. Knowing possible drug interactions and contraindications of a given essential oil can be the difference between a positive experience and a reaction.
Fourth, essential oils are not always the answer. Sometimes other treatments are better or safer, and sometimes a multifaceted approach is necessary. Just because you can use an essential oil, doesn’t mean you always should. “As long as we realize the limitations of all such therapeutic agents, we will put them to best possible use.” (Tisserand, 1977, p 97)
Fifth, reactions are possible. The less diluted the essential oil is, the more likely a reaction is to occur. The more compromised the individual is — whether it be young age, old age, skin conditions, weak constitutions, major or minor illnesses, autoimmune diseases, etc — the more likely a reaction is to occur. Reactions are not to be taken lightly. A small reaction during a first, or tenth, usage could just be a warning from the body that a more severe reaction can occur the next time. Listen to your body.
So as in all things, be informed. When in doubt, seek the advice of a qualified aromatherapist. And above all, love and respect your body.
Author: Cassie is a wife and mother. She has spent the past 3 years healing from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She believes in holistic medication and is currently training as an aromatherapist and herbalist.
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Articles written by students are the opinions, research and voice of the student and not Heart of Herbs Herbal School. We encourage our students to explore and grow in their profession.
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