Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably noticed the essential oil craze sweeping the nation. Chances are, you're wondering whether these oils are helpful or a bunch of baloney.
Get the Right Stuff
Dr. Josh Axe says if you choose one of the certified organic essential oil brands on the market today, you can expect positive results. However, he warns against lower quality synthetic and altered oils, saying they may actually do more harm than good. That's because artificial fragrances are linked to a multitude of serious health concerns including infertility, obesity lung disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer's Disease.
He says plug-in air fresheners, perfumes touted by celebrities and scented candles are terrible for our overall health, not to mention laundry detergents and other household cleaners that contain synthetic fragrances. He says research shows the chemicals in personal care items like lotions, deodorants, shampoos, and toothpaste pose health problems, too.
Not to worry. There are perfectly safe alternatives to all of those common items using essential oils.
Essential Oils in the Bible
In his book, Essential Oils Ancient Medicine, Axe and co-authors Ty Bollinger and Jordan Rubin point out that although essential oils are a novel idea to most people, they've actually been around for thousands of years. In fact, they're mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible.
Through the ancient process of distillation, essential oils harness the healing powers of the growing things God placed on the earth on the third day of creation: trees, bark, roots, flowers, leaves, and shrubs.
The wise men brought the baby Jesus gifts of the essential oils frankincense and myrrh, known for their healing and protective properties.
Shortly before the crucifixion of Jesus, the Bible tells us Mary bathed his feet with spikenard (John 12:3), a highly-prized essential oil used for a variety of medicinal properties. Essential oils were used for anointing and worship.
What Essential Oils Can Do For You
The more than 50 essential oils on the market today are used to cure dozens of health issues from acid reflux to warts. They can also help us take care of our homes and our bodies without using toxic chemicals.
For example, oil of oregano, nicknamed "nature's antibiotic" is a non-toxic antimicrobial effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Frankincense is used to improve brain health and as an anti-inflammatory. Peppermint oil helps relieve coughs and headaches and is touted for its mood-boosting properties. Lemon oil aids digestive issues and boosts immunity. Sandalwood is used to increase testosterone and as an aphrodisiac. Lavender, the most consumed essential oil in the world today aids in sleep and has even been shown to reduce PTSD.
How to Use
Many people choose to diffuse essential oils into the air. Diffusers are similar to vaporizers and can be purchased online or most discount stores. Diffusing essential oils is simple and basically involves breathing the steam that escapes from boiling water that's been treated with one or more oils. Most instructions call for filling the diffuser with water, placing a few drops of an essential oil into the water and plugging it in.
Some oils can be applied directly to the skin. Since the oils are highly concentrated, only a drop or two at a time will suffice. Some oils, such as peppermint, can irritate the skin if applied full strength, so the oil needs to be diluted with another oil, called a carrier oil, such as coconut, almond or jojoba.
Lastly, many essential oils can be ingested, such as oil of oregano. A common practice involves placing a few drops into a glass of water and drinking the liquid three times a day for no more than ten days.
Dr. Axe says before using an essential oil, become familiar with the recommended method of treatment associated with it. He advises consulting a health care professional before using essential oils in case of drug interactions and other possible complications. He points out some oils are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women as well as the very young or elderly.
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***Originally published November 1, 2018.