For centuries, plants have been used for healing purposes, and with the recent rise in popularity of essential oils, the ancient practice seems to be taking on a new life.
Extracted from different parts of a plant — the leaves, flowers, roots, stalks — essential oils are used to aid in a variety of health issues.
The natural substances can be diluted with other oils, such as coconut, almond or olive oil, and applied topically, breathed in aromatically through a diffuser or used internally.
Christina Lane first began using essential oils about three years ago to help with her daughter’s allergies.
“We had tried medication, but weren’t having any luck. I was amazed at how fast they worked. Now all we do is use the oils,” she said.
Lane now leads a monthly class at Monkeycitos in Killeen to teach others about how to safely and effectively use essential oils.
Though there are a nearly limitless number of oils and combinations, three lead the pack in popularity — lavender, lemon and peppermint.
“(They) are great starter oils for somebody new to oils because they
are so versatile,” said Shelley McGlothlin, registered nurse for Killeen Independent School District. “I was introduced to essential oils a year ago and love the more natural approach it has given my family. I cannot use essential oils at work because of the strict policies but I use them daily at home.”
Long-known as a relaxing scent, lavender oil provides a medley of additional benefits, including healing sunburns, cuts, scrapes and bug bites, helping with sleep, reducing stress, and promoting hair growth.
“It’s the most popular. You can use it for an array of different things. … I personally use lavender on my face as a toner with frankincense and water. It calms your skin,” Lane said.
McGlothlin, too, uses oils for her skin, and said it “looks younger and heals quicker.”
The oil of this citrus fruit soothes a sore throat when combined with honey, can be used to detox when added to water and can even boost the mood when a small amount is applied to the hands and inhaled.
“You’ll notice it melts the stress away,” Lane said.
The multipurpose oil also makes a safe, natural household product for cleaning furniture, as well as washing fruits and vegetables.
This anti-inflamitory can aid in reducing fevers, headaches and sunburns, and help someone to focus. If applied to the chest, it reduces congestion.
McGlothlin said she also diffuses peppermint with wild orange to help wake herself and her 5-year-old twin sons up in the mornings.
With such a wide selection and so many perks, Lane said oils should be used in every household.
“You can use essential oils for virtually anything. There’s an oil for everyone. It just depends on how you want to use them,” she said.
According to Lane, the secret is in the chemistry of their molecular compounds.
“They’re metabolized, which is why they work a little bit differently than medication,” she said.
While there are many potential benefits, education about oils also is important.
“With more popularity comes a lot of myths and misguided information,” Lane said.
With so much on the Internet and so many different brands and types of oils, knowing where to begin may be overwhelming.
Lane uses doTERRA essential oils, and teaches small groups regularly about methods and practice. She suggests everybody join a class to learn about safe use.
“It’s not as simple as going to the store, picking one up and using it. Get in a class. That’s where you’re going to learn the most,” she said.