Therapist: Essential oils can boost immunity, promote health
BY DEBBIE PAGE
A group of eager students recently crowded into the J.Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library for a class on essential oils, which are concentrated essences extracted from a plant and then distilled at a highly concentrated level.
Essential oils are produced by steam or water distillation of the leaves, wood, petals, buds, needles, bark or roots of aromatic botanical plants. They are highly beneficial and effective when used carefully, but improper use can be harmful.
Amanda Conley, a massage therapist and essential oils expert, has used essential oils in her practice for almost 10 years.
Conley explained to the group that “essential oils are the lifeblood of a plant and provide the best of what the plant has to offer.” These oils are are very potent, “with a little bit going a long way. Just a drop or two goes a very long way.”
Conley first explained the three ways to deliver essential oils’ benefits: aromatically, topically, and internally.
Most beginners start using essential oils aromatically with a few drops in a diffuser, according to Conley, which is a good way to make the somewhat expensive oils last longer. Conley also keeps a few oils in her purse to stave off common issues.
“I keep a peppermint oil in my purse and take a quick sniff when I feel a headache coming on to assist in alleviating it,” said Conley. “Within seconds, it will affect your body.” She also uses a drop of the rather low key lavender essential oil on her patients’ face pillows to encourage relaxation during a massage.
For those skeptical, Conley reminded attendees of the strong role that scents play in our lives and memories. “Think about a scent from church at Christmas time or walking into your grandmother’s house and smelling cookies. When you smell that same smell now, it immediately brings that memory back.”
Conley also sometimes just puts a few drops on her hands and rubs them together as a great way to use the oils as well. She does advise those using essential topically, especially new users, the elderly, and children, should dilute the oils before applying to the skin.
Ironically, essential oils are not really oily-feeling at all. “We have hot oils, we have cooling oils. Some are perfectly fine with direct contact, but others say, I can’t do that,” said Conley.
A few drops of essential oil in a carrier oil, such as fractionated or solid coconut oil, olive oil, or any edible fatty oil, can be rubbed on the skin to safely deliver the essential oil’s benefit in a soothing manner.
For example, Conley creates an essential oil version of Vick’s Vaporub using Young Living’s R.C. (Respiratory Care) oil, a blend of several types of eucalyptus oils along with myrtle, with the solid coconut oil to use of her kids’ chest and feet to alleviate nasal stuffiness.
To take an essential oil internally, users can buy capsules to hold a drop or two of essential oil for consumption. Conley also likes lemon or Citrus Fresh drops in water (not in a plastic bottle unless consuming quickly).
Conley warns that consumers should be careful which essential oils they buy, choosing a company that guarantees it controls the process of making the essential oil from seed to bottle seal to ensure safety from additives or chemicals, especially for oils taken internally.
Popular oils include lavender (for calming and skincare), peppermint (stimulating and energizing and for digestive issues), lemon (natural whitening of white laundry or in a drink to help the body’s PH balance), frankincense (for grounding and peacefulness, anxiety, and skincare), and copaiba (for calming and muscle aches).
She suggests adding a drop of peppermint to hot tea for a lift or adding essential oils to products attendees already use, such as lotion, shampoo, and cleansers. She also adds lavender to her dryer ball (rather than chemical-containing dryer sheets) for fantastic smelling clothes.
All essential oil creations should be kept in color glass jars or bottles to preserve the essential oil’s strength, added Conley. She also reminded listeners to never store them in plastic, which will be quickly degraded by the essential oil.
If a user applies an essential oil directly and finds it too strong, Conley warns to never put water on it because it will only intensify the unpleasant effect and push the oil into skin cells even faster. Instead, add a few drops of a carrier oil to dilute the essential oil.
For skin delivery, Conley suggests starting out using the bottoms of the feet, which have large pores and are generally tougher than other parts of the body.
Also, if a user accidentally gets an essential oil in the eye area, using a cotton ball doused with small amount of a fatty oil will draw the essential oil out of the eye. Again, do not wash the eye with water or the oil’s effect will be intensified.
She also warns users not to put a citrus-based essential oil on their skin before sun exposure because the oils increase skin’s photosensitivity and can result in sunburns where applied.
Conley uses 10 drops of lavender and 10 drops of frankincense in fractionated coconut oil to quickly reduce accidental sunburn. She also touted rubbing on the Digize blend in a carrier oil on the tummy or chest area for heartburn, nausea, and car sickness.
The Thieves blend (clove, lemon, cinnamon, several types of eucalyptus, and rosemary) is an immunity booster that Conley and her family uses with a carrier oil on their necks, down the spine, and on the bottoms of their feet to help them fight off the inevitable exposure to germs and viruses during the winter months especially. She also diffuses Thieves September to February to also help stave off illness at home.
Conley uses PanAway (wintergreen, helichrysum, clove, and peppermint oils) and copaiba in her massage practice to reduce muscular pain rather than a chemically based pain relief rub. “I’ve tried to get away from chemicals as much as I can.”
Purification (a blend of citronella, lavandin, lemongrass, rosemary, myrtle, and tea tree) is great for unpleasant smells, including strong food and dog odors that can build in the home. Some friends also add a drop to a kerchief and tie it on the dog’s neck to reduce that “doggy” odor.
Conley also diffuses it around grumpy relatives to help get rid of bad attitudes. This blend, which can be diluted with water and sprayed on clothes or applied to the body with a carrier oil, also helps repel mosquito and other bugs and takes the itchy sting out of bug bites.
StressAway (copaiba, lime, lavender, vanilla, and cedarwood blend) helps increase relaxation and reduce occasional nervous tension that exists in everyday life. Conley says one friend uses it on her commute to Charlotte each day to her high stress job as a bank executive.
ESSENTIAL OIL CRAFTS
Students got a chance to create small glass bottles of room spray, using water, a pinch of salt, and a blend of essential oils to create a holiday-themed scent, using essential oils such as clove, apple, cinnamon bark, orange, lemon, and peppermint.
On January 24 at 5:30 p.m., Conley will be back for the Adult Pinterest Club meeting to again educate attendees on essential oil uses and lead participants in creating bath bombs and sugar scrubs to take home.
Registration for the class is required, so call or sign up at the library’s front desk or call (704) 528-2682 to reserve a spot.