The Power of Essential Oils

{OR Learning to Get Natural with your Wellness}

Essential oils can be a wonderful addition to your wellness routine, if you learn how to use them correctly. I began this post as a stand-alone one, but then it got really long and I got new ideas. So, this post is now the first in a series related to natural wellness. I briefly go over my medication history, and how I came upon the many habits that I currently have that keep my life calm, clean and positive.

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE DETAILS.

steaming cup of tulsi tea

WELLNESS AND LIFESTYLE

I used to be very skeptical about natural cures. I was a hardcore cynic about all things non-allopathic. This is despite personally knowing several people who have been greatly helped by homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, etc etc. I always dismissed them, and thought, “Pfft, it’s probably the placebo effect.”

This was all before my own journey into illness. It’s easy to be dismissive when you enjoy good health, and I was in perfect health all my life until the age of about 24. I very rarely fell sick, not even a sniffle or a sneeze. I was as healthy as can be. Until I left home, and – sans nutritional knowledge – began to eat whatever the heck I felt like. Eating crap, of course, began when I was 18 and at university on my own. I thought of food as just something you put in your body to stem your hunger. It’s not that I had issues with my weight; I just didn’t think about food until I got hungry, and then I’d reach for the nearest available thing – which was nearly always from the vending machine. I loved food, though – pizza, McDonald’s, Coke, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

NUTRITION – OR LACK THEREOF

I never thought about how the body uses food, or why a nutritionally balanced diet is important (this despite having studied biology until the last day of high school). I’d heard of the adage, “You are what you eat,” of course. But in university, surrounded by other newly-minted adults who had all the freedom in the world, I just gorged on junk food, and to “balance” that out, I’d drink fruit juice from the carton. I shudder now to think of how much processed sugar I ingested on a daily basis.

I literally ate a Mars bar every morning, along with a latte with loads of sugar. This was my breakfast. My lunch would be a chocolate muffin from the campus bakery or instant noodles or burgers, pizzas and fried rice – all gobbled quickly in between classes. Dinner was the only proper meal I had, since I’d have it in my dorm cafeteria and I loved what they served. To add to all this, I had very erratic sleep patterns and no ‘daily routine’ to speak of throughout my four years at university. It really is no wonder my body began to unravel under this onslaught.

MEDICATION DONE WRONG

I was diagnosed at 23 with a couple of mental illnesses – which are not related to diet and only slightly related to irregular sleep – and then I went on to get diagnosed at 24 with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), that great lifestyle disease of the modern age. PCOS, I know now, is directly related to diet and sleep (i.e. lifestyle), but at the time, nearly ten years ago, the gynecologist just put me on Metformin and birth control pills. She didn’t mention anything about changing my diet, except to say, “Eat more greens.”

So basically what I did was continue my terrible lifestyle and added hormonal pills and diabetes medicine to the mix (along with psychiatric medication). I’d had terrible cystic acne when I went to the doctor, along with painful, irregular and heavy periods. But after starting on the medication, I put on a lot of weight in a few weeks, figured out it was because of the Metformin, and then decided to stop having it. My weight issues that began then still continue to this day.

I was very happy with the birth control pills, though. Not only did it clear up my skin and regulate my period, but ahem…it guaranteed I wouldn’t get pregnant. What a win!

I’ve been through several gynecologists over the years, but none that I trusted and was happy with, unfortunately.

MY LONG JOURNEY BACK TO HEALTH

Birth control pills are terrible for your body. All in all, I had birth control pills every day for over six years. I stopped them cold turkey about four years ago, in an inspired moment of rebellion against unnecessary medication. The awareness of nutrition and its connection to health was then just starting in my mind. Since the effects of my terrible lifestyle didn’t show up until years later, I didn’t make the connection until much, much later.

The process of righting my body after all the misuse is still ongoing. It took two years to get my period to normal after stopping the birth control pills – only for it to go haywire again due to extreme stress (and alcohol and nicotine abuse) brought on by a couple of years of just life being terrible. It’s now slowly limping back to normalcy again. Correcting my lifestyle has taken even longer. We all tend to think we’re invincible, and that small changes cannot result in big outcomes.

But sometimes they do. For example, getting seven hours of regular, quality sleep is, I know now, one of the most important things required by my body. My friends laugh at me, because I prefer to head to bed by 10. But getting regular, quality sleep is a small change I’m now happy to make, because I know the massive consequences of messing up my circadian rhythm. I’ve discovered the specific things my body requires, and I’ve finally accepted that what others get away with I simply cannot. And that’s that.

Anyway, long story short, today I am vegan, take just one pill every night (for one of the aforementioned mental illnesses), and am “clean” otherwise. I’ve cut out most processed foods, minimized oil intake and – finally coming to the point of this post – discovered the beauty of natural healing and therapy.

DISCOVERING ESSENTIAL OILS

The period of extreme stress that I’d mentioned earlier occurred about two years ago. I very fortunately reached a stage where I’d had enough of the status quo, and wanted to start figuring out how to de-stress and not be on the razor’s edge all the time. I remember thinking, “This is not how life is supposed to be.”

I did loads of research, with one singular aim: to find a sustainable solution to my stress that did not involve ingesting prescription drugs. I’d just about had enough of strong medicines and their stronger side-effects.

(I do not include my psychiatric medicines under this category, for one because I’ve had wonderful psychiatric doctors, and secondly because it appears that I truly require the medication because of a deficiency in my body. I haven’t found a similar natural substitute, and frankly am not looking for one since there have been no debilitating side effects from the medication. All in all, I’m personally comfortable taking it daily, and believe it is working fine for me right now.)

I began with adding a couple of drops of cedarwood essential oil to my pillow, to help me fall asleep at night, along with drinking tulsi green tea. Both of them helped tremendously. I moved on to using lemon grass to make my bedroom smell good, and in addition I believe its purported anti-depressive quality actually worked on me. (I also began yoga and meditation, which I will elaborate in a separate post.)

Slowly learning about, and adding to my life, various essential oils have given a lot of relief, improvement and welcome change to my life, my moods, and my physical health. They’ve improved my PCOS symptoms. To top it all, essential oils are helping me transition my home to a more natural, zero-waste one.

One general warning: An essential oil is a highly concentrated and potent version of the parent plant (flower, bark, stem, root). Please educate yourself on the methods of mixing essential oils with carrier oils such as coconut oil, almond oil, etc., to have the best experience and outcome.

I use essential oils for stress and anxiety relief, better sleep and sometimes just for the scent. Here is a list of all the essential oils I use (or have used), and their benefits:

eucalyptus

  • Eucalyptus: I’ve had sinusitis for years (it’s the only health issue I did not mention in this post!), and one of my roommates in grad school introduced me to eucalyptus oil for sinus relief. Boy, was I hooked! A few drops of this oil added to steaming water will work wonders for your nasal passages when they’re blocked. Try it sometime. It also works great as an insect repellent.
    How to use:  Use with diffuser to refresh your mood; use insect repellents that contain eucalyptus oil (or make one yourself); add a few drops to hot water and inhale the steam.

 

  • Chamomile: It’s made from dried chamomile flowers, and works wonderfully as a relaxant by calming, soothing and reducing anxiety. Just add a few drops on your pillowcase. Chamomile tea also works great when had before bed.
    How to use: You can diffuse in your home, inhale on the go, or drink Chamomile tea.

 

  • Cedarwood: It’s supposed to balance your menstrual cycle, although that is not what I used it for. It helped improve my scalp health when I used it with coconut oil. Also helped me sleep well.
    How to use:  Mix with carrier oil and apply to scalp and hair for dandruff control and hair regrowth. Inhale for menstrual benefits.

 

 

  • Spearmint: I drink spearmint green tea in the mornings, and it helps with my digestion.
    How to use:  Add a few drops to hot water and inhale to improve congestion; gargle with a few drops in water for fresh breath; diffuse for pleasant and refreshing aroma.

 

  • Lemongrass: I discovered the magic of lemongrass during a work trip. The hotel had diffused it in my room, and it smelled wonderful. It put me in a really happy mood. I got to know later that lemongrass is great for stress relief!
    How to use:  Drink lemongrass tea; diffuse for stress relief and aroma; dilute with with hazel and use as a skin toner.
  • Peppermint: This is great for feeling energized and refreshed, and helps when you have a cold or allergies.
    How to use: Rub on temples to relieve headache; diffuse for cold and allergy relief; mix with shampoo to improve hair health; diffuse in car to ease motion sickness.
  • Tea Tree: It’s distilled from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifloria, and I used it to soothe my angry cystic breakouts. If you feel this oil is too strong for your skin, add a few drops of tea tree oil to a teaspoon of almond oil and then apply to your blemishes.
    How to use: Dip Q-tip in oil, and dab it on the acne.
  • Rosemary: I initially noticed this because of its pretty name, but rosemary oil is great for relieving headaches and for improving mental focus.
    How to use: Diffuse to help with headache and for aroma; apply to scalp after a shower to help with hair health; DIY shampoo.

rosemary essential oil

Plant Therapy is a great brand for organic essential oils, so if you are looking for oils other than what’s listed above, head here.

If you’d like to dip your toes into the world of essential oils, this works great as a starter kit:

If you’re wondering which diffuser to use, here’s a good option:

If you’re looking for a more portable diffuser that’s also very stylish, check out The Oil Collection:

the oil collection jewelry

 

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE DETAILS.

I admit I am still skeptical about homeopathy (although it has even worked for me once!). But I am skeptical, I think, because I honestly do not understand how it works.

But as Shakespeare said through Hamlet’s ghost (see, I did pay attention in college!):

shakespeare quote

This is one of my favorite quotes ever, and I use it to remind myself that not only do I not know much, but that it isn’t possible to know everything – for anyone.

If you’re into the endorphin rush of physical exercise, please read The Joy of Running.

I intend to follow up this post with one on how meditation and yoga helped me deal with stress and continue to help me maintain my mental equilibrium.

Well, most of the time, anyway!;)

Please share this post if you enjoyed it! Thank you.

The Power of Essential Oils

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