How I Feel About // Essential Oils

>> Monday, January 16, 2017

This is such a long-overdue post. I've hinted from time to time that I use essential oils in anything from household cleaners to DIY personal care stuff. But I've never gone on record explaining the full extent of my usage. The thing is, I've not one of those crazy hashtag oily moms.

At least not yet.

I started using essential oils when I was in college. I've mentioned many times that I went to Ithaca College, which is in Ithaca, NY. To me, this meant I was living in a total hippy town. And my very first independent persona as a college freshman was, well, a completely granola girl. It's something I have yet to shake all these years later.

You see, I used to have bouts of insomnia and headaches. I blame it on stress my first year of college. On a bad relationship I was in that had me all sorts of crazy. I marched into the local food co-op one afternoon and was looking for anything "natural" that might bring me calm and contentedness. I picked up two things -- a small bottle of Valerian root extract and a small bottle of lavender essential oil.

I'll get into the Valerian another time. But the essential oil was something I fell in love in instantly. I had started my first yoga class that semester, and our teacher actually would rub lavender mixed with jojoba on on necks during the final savasana. So. Incredibly. Relaxing.

I had no idea what I was doing on my own. I sniffed the bottle. I put the plain oil on my wrists and neck (oops -- I never had a reaction, but undiluted oil is usually a no-no). I dripped it onto this rice pillow I kept in my bed. It helped me feel calm.

Fast-forward many, many years but I started using peppermint, lemon, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils in my homemade cleaning supplies. I loved the natural scent and antimicrobial properties it added to the mix. Eventually I even got a diffuser and started unwinding with a few drops of lavender at the end of a hard day. If I felt a cold coming on, I'd do some peppermint mixed to eucalyptus.

And, really, up until today -- that's been the extent of my oil usage. I've seen a gigantic surge in essential oil popularity over the last couple years. I've remained rather skeptical about it all. I mean, can oils really CURE sickness? Can they ward it off? Should we REALLY be slathering our babies in this stuff? My first inclination is to say, uh, no. Be safe rather than sorry. This stuff is potent.

But many friends of mine who I know and respect -- some of them with medical degrees -- swear by the stuff. Am I missing out? Is it all snake oil? Will it kill my cats or injure my children? There are just so many questions. There are not that many iron-clad sources either.

Then there's the whole sourcing issue. I have only Aura Cacia oils in my personal collection. I can buy them at Wegmans. I respect their company, as they claim to be free from fillers and don't advocate ingestion (perhaps the biggest usage I'm skeptical about), and their prices seem reasonable.

I currently have:
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Lemon
  • Frankincense (my new favorite)  
  • And my diffuser is from Gurunanda
I hear that other oils from Young Living, doTerra, and Rocky Mountain are better quality -- at least perhaps.

So, how do I feel about essential oils? 


As a long-time user, I'm still just on the tip of the iceberg. I'd love to hear from you more experienced oily people what I may be missing out on. Should I dip my toes in deeper? Am I right to be skeptical? What safety do you follow around kids?

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