Holistic Momma: The Essential Oil Effect

There is so much talk about essential oils online, but especially in the mommy world! It seems like nearly every question posted on a mommy forum gets a response along the lines of, "have you tried putting lavender oil on her feet?" If you have ever wondered what the heck these oils are and what to do with them - I'm your girl.

I first started using essential oils about two years ago. My experience with them was limited to having lavender rubbed on my temples during savasana after a yoga class. However, once a friend introduced me, I was hooked. As a nurse, I have always been intrigued by complementary and holistic remedies to use in conjunction with my traditional medical training. In college, I took an alternative medicine course where I interviewed acupuncturists, learned about visualization, and explored music therapy. I believe there is room for more than one way of thinking about medicine and healing.

An essential oil is a liquid extracted from plants, usually by distillation or expression. The oil then contains the fragrance of the plant, and depending on the specific oil, can be used in various ways.

I would like to add a disclaimer here that before delving into any holistic remedies, you should always discuss them beforehand with your primary physician. There are differing opinions out there about essential oils, especially if you are considering ingesting them.

The best and perhaps most obvious way to enjoy essential oils is through aromatherapy. Whether you rub a few drops on your hands and inhale, or use a diffuser (you can purchase one from Amazon), the scent of lavender filling a room can promote relaxation. I frequently diffuse lavender at bedtime for my daughter, but my husband and I also benefit! I put a few drops in a bath, or mix a few drops with coconut oil to rub on my feet after a stressful day. Frankincense can be to enhance a spiritual practice such as yoga or meditation. Orange essential oil inspires positive feelings. Lemon oil is an invigorating and delicious scent that was popular at my office job.

Essential oils can be applied to the body for various treatments. Remember, what you apply topically can enter your blood stream, so please discuss with your doctor. Peppermint oil applied to the temples works wonders for a headache. Many oil companies have blends for pain (such as Young Living's blend, PanAway), which can be applied to muscular pain when mixed with a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut. I love to apply these oils to my lower back after working out!

Thieves is a powerful blend that is said to have warded off the bubonic plague! People use it now to promote immunity. After anyone in my home is sick, Thieves oil is in the diffuser constantly. The smell is very cozy and is great around the holidays.

Essential oils can be purchased from many online retailers, and I recommend doing your own research to find which company you like best. Young Living, doTerra, Plant Therapy, and Eden's Garden are some popular ones. Locally, Basic Food and Ariele's Apothecary sell them as well.

Oils are fun to experiment with, so enjoy them! Play around with different scents and mix a few in the diffuser and find what you like. After using oils for awhile, you may find that like me, you can no longer tolerate the harsher smells of certain perfumes or air fresheners. Essential oil scents are earthier and lighter.

Happy oil-ing!

Jessica Crystal is an RN, BSN with a degree from the University of Delaware, a holistic health coach certified from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and a new mom to baby girl Emma. She enjoys yoga, reading, and shopping and eating on Washington Street. She has lived in Hoboken for over six years with her husband Adam. To learn more, visit her blog HipWholeHealth.