Essential Oil—Snake Oil Or Not?

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I’m a big skeptic when it comes to alternative medicine. After all, the lack of effectiveness of alternative treatments is why modern medicine developed in the first place.  Well, that’s possibly an oversimplification of the history of modern medicine, and I’m not here to be an advocate for the modern medical system with all its problems, but you understand what I mean. Way back when, the natural remedies weren’t cutting it, so we humans went in a different direction.

I used to hold doctors in high esteem. After having three children I got to know them pretty well, and as a result I stopped idolizing them. They are human, some are good and some are, well, not so good. Then, of course, there are all those problems with the medical system I eluded to above.

Today, I’m mature enough not to be wowed by degrees and initials after a name, but still young enough to embrace new or alternative less invasive and less toxic methods of treatment. I now seek a balance between the two.

My path to seeking out new methods has not always been clear. While I’ve experimented with my share of elderberry syrup and used coconut oil in more ways than I thought possible, essential oil just seemed too implausible and expensive to explore.

Then to make essential oil even more of a turn-off, two of the leading brands of essential oil are run through multi-level marketing (MLM). Honestly, I’ve never heard anything good about MLM! Well, except from the people way up on the tier or from the latest people to buy into it. But, I digress, there are plenty of articles out there about the woes of MLM; that’s not what this post is about. (Read more about MLM here, here and here)

Yet, I kept reading testimonials from people whose condition greatly improved after using essential oil and I couldn’t help but be intrigued. After researching essential oil I learned that a lot of these oils really aren’t new and they have been around in one form or another for centuries.

To make these oils even more attractive, they have a long shelf-life, and if you know how to use them can be effective in maintaining health. In other words, they can take the place of many over the counter medicines and some prescription medicines.

Let me just interject here and say that I believe in many cases a person is better off suffering from what ails them rather than taking some of the drugs on the market today. Some of the side effects can be worse than the condition a person is suffer from. It is in these cases that essential oils might offer some relief.

So over the past few years I’ve been experimenting with these oils to see if they make a difference in my health and the health of my family.

Here are some of the problems I’ve had and the results of using essential oil:
  • Dandruff: My oldest son had trouble with dandruff. He no longer uses shampoo, instead he uses a mix of baking soda, water, and tea tree oil. The dandruff is gone.
  • Motion Sickness: My family and I went on a cruise last year and I took an oil blend designed to relieve motion sickness and applied it on the cruise. To my amazement it worked.
  • Throat Infection: I have a lot of sinus drainage in the back of my throat that often leads to throat infections. I started gargling with an antibacterial oil blend. I have not had a throat infections in over a year. I also use this same blend to make an antibacterial spray that I use like a homemade Febreze on mattresses and other non-washable furniture.
  • Minor Cuts: I’ve used lavender oil on minor cuts. They seem to heal faster. I also put a few drops in my homemade laundry detergent.
  • Motivation: If you place a few drops of orange oil and peppermint oil in a defuser it will perk you and everyone else in the room up. I think it works better than a cup of coffee. I have also used a few drops of peppermint in my tea to aid in digestion.
  • Trouble Sleeping: Right before bed I often defuse an oil blend designed to help you relax so you can sleep. I often have problems falling asleep because of anxiety. Defusing the oil helps me fall asleep.

I have been slowing working essential oil into my recipes and routines, with great results and I have not experienced any negative side effects. However, I highly recommend you do your own research and delve into the world of essential oil slowly, and as with anything you put in your body, with caution.

Getting Started With Essential Oils

Using essential oil is not like popping a pill, often the most effective way to use the oil is not through the digestive system. This was a concept I had to process for a long time to understand it and to get past my traditional medicine way of thinking.

Remember traditional medicine only treats the body and not the mind. Yeah, I know I sound like I’m about to go off into a new-age abyss, but bear with me. If you stop and think about any condition or ailment logically you can understand that it has an effect on the mind and the senses along with the effected part of the body. Essential oil can help with all three: the mind, the senses and the effected part of the body.

Motion sickness for example is a sensory condition.  By simply inhaling the aroma from certain essential oils you can change how the body is processing the motion. Every condition has a mental aspect, even a broken bone for example. Your mood effects the rate at which you recover. So the way you apply essential oil is not conventional, and that was a big part of why I was so skeptical.

The other unusual thing, at least it was to me, is that you can use essential oils for medicine and then turn around and clean with them. This really doesn’t have anything to do with essential oil per se; it has more to do with being accustomed to artificial products. For example you would never cook with Windex but you can certainly clean and cook with vinegar.

Ways To Apply Essential Oil
  • Baths: Place a few drops of oil in a bath.
  • Massage: Place a few drops in a another oil (a base oil or a carrier oil) and massage it into the body
  • Inhaling from a tissue: Placing a few drops on a tissue or handkerchief and inhaling the aroma.
  • Diffusers: Placing a few drops of oil, diluted in water, in an air diffuser.
  • Room Sprays: Placing a few drops of oil, diluted in water, in a spray bottle and spraying around the room. This works great if you don’t have a diffuser.
  • Ingesting: Placing a few drops of oil in tea or water and drinking.

If you are completely new to essential oil and have never used them before, I recommend starting small. Pick out one blend. A blend of essential oil is a combination of oils that a company has blended together. They often have names that are not related to the herbs they are derived from, but have a name more associated with the condition they help.

If you have been using essential oil but are frustrated with the price and the MLM I want to encourage you to look at a company that I have been using for some time and really like, Spark Naturals.

This company sells therapeutic grade essential oil at reasonable prices without trying to entice you to join a multi-level marketing company.

In addition they offer Are We Crazy, Or What? readers a 10% discount when you use the coupon code AWCOW.  Here is a comparison chart for some of the more common blends for reference.

Essential Oil—Snake Oil Or Not?

I have ordered essential oils form a lot of different companies and have not found any better quality or price than Spark Naturals.

Stay tuned for more essential oil posts from me. It’s not a subject that can be explored in one post. I plan to write more about making your own blends and more health benefits from using and storing essential oil.

In the meantime I would like to recommend this great book that I found helpful in my research: The Complete Book Of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy. Also, be sure to check out the Preparedness Planner Essential Oil Edition I designed it for you to keep track of your essential oil stock pile. It also includes pages for you to journal how you use your oils.