Essential Oils: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

oil-1205635__340I’m all for natural healing remedies. The Bible addresses them in several places as gifts from God’s creation. I love reading stories of people healing from all sorts of things, including boils by intrepid use of a “cake of figs”. (Isaiah 38:21).

For more than 30 years, I have studied everything I can get my hands on about nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management for good health. I also keep up with what is going on in the fields of “natural medicine”, or the use of food/herbs/plants for healing.

So what about essential oils? I had no clue that the liquid in those little bottles I kept reading about had any real properties for symptom relief.

That is, until I suffered a brain injury caused by a misprescribed medication. Not the doctor’s fault, he didn’t know that a drug he gave me for stomach pain in the ER would affect my brain receptors, neurotransmitters, calcium ion channels, etc.

Nevertheless, I struggled with a variety of mental and physical symptoms for two years. Unless you’ve been through a chronic illness or condition, you have no idea how awful it is to literally have no options. There is nothing you can do, nothing you can take, no one to fix it. You can’t plan out your day because you can’t think beyond the current minute.

That was my daily experience until a friend had me try some essential oils: lavender, vetiver, lime, copaiba and some others. Honestly, I couldn’t really tell that they were making a difference. Thanks, but no thanks. I thought it was all MLM hype.

Another friend sent me a different brand of lavender. Based on my last experiment, I was VERY reluctant to give it a go. But I did, and my life changed that day.

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I won’t go into brand or quality distinctions here. All that mattered to me was that inhaling some of this stuff right from the bottle took some of my symptoms away and got me off of the couch. I called my daughter at college and told her something was working and she immediately started Googling why lavender would impact a chemical brain injury.

Before anyone tells you that there is no scientific evidence for the belief that pure, high-grade essential oils can have therapeutic properties, do your research. While many more studies need to be done, several have already been conducted. I could find dozens on lavender and its chemical constituents alone, including a Frontiers in Pharmacology study published in May 2017 entitled,

Exploring Pharmacological Mechanisms of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil on Central Nervous System Targets

The first thing this study taught me was that each essential oil, whether lavender, tea tree, lemon, peppermint, frankincense or many others, are made up of dozens of naturally occurring chemical constituents, each having a unique impact on the body. These constituents are perfectly combined together to benefit the plant in some way. When the “essence” of that plant is extracted through steam distillation or other method, we get a concentrated “dose” of the properties of the plant.

I also learned that people have been using essential oils around the world for thousands of years for their healing abilities. Why are we behind the times in the U.S.?

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I knew what I needed an oil to do for me, so I read many more studies, some on rats/mice and some on humans. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know that extensive research about these oils was going on across the globe and these studies could be accessed on the internet.

While I don’t claim to be a chemist, physician or pharmacist, I can tell you that I am an expert on ME. Using a combination of essential oils is what allows me to get out of bed, think clearly, leave my house, do work that takes much concentration, exercise, sleep and help care for my family and household–all things I couldn’t do for two years without them. And no, I don’t believe I started to spontaneously heal because when I don’t use the oils I feel like hell.

I use essential oils topically, aromatically and a couple internally. I’ve researched many popular thought leaders on the subject of sourcing, quality, safety and have come up with my own regimen.

So in my opinion–yes, essential oils are worth the hype that you are hearing about them.

But you have to understand that no one is an expert in essential oils. Many will tell you to be overly cautious in their use, others will tell you to use them with abandon, even if you take medication. Just be careful to do your own research on which EOs may benefit you.

That’s what I did. Then I spoke with my physician and a pharmacist friend. Both listened to the studies I presented and said that they made sense, even though they didn’t have great familiarity with the subject.

Don’t let an overly enthusiastic EO salesperson turn you away from trying these products. We all have that one girlfriend or family member who joined an MLM and gives advice with very little knowledge. Not to say that all of the oils produced by these companies are bad (I’ve found quite the contrary), just do your homework.

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Study for yourself. Listen to other people’s stories. Don’t give up trying because one oil may not help you, but another oil will (for instance, I can’t stand bergamot and others swear by it for brain healing). We all have different bodies so don’t think because salesperson Suzy says that Ylang Ylang won’t work for your needs means that you should believe it.

Try one at a time. Learn how to use them. Take good notes about your body’s response to an oil. Then build a regimen.

One last thing…I am a stickler for quality. I found out the hard way that poor quality oils (that you find at many health food stores) don’t work or can make things worse. Know where your oils are coming from. Are they coming directly from the grower or from an oil broker who sells to a bunch of different companies, some who may add other ingredients to stretch it out (and make it less effective)?

So be encouraged. Know that you have options. Believe the hype that these can be very powerful and effective, but know what you’re using and why.

I wish you the best!!

 

 

 

 

Perfecting the Art of Laughing Through Tears

Laughing and Crying

When you’re recovering from a brain injury, everything can be really scary.

Or really funny.

You see, I have occasional blips of bad symptoms that make me think that God is never going to completely glue my grey matter back together.  The symptoms can range from feeling like I have dementia to raging adrenaline to blurry vision to disorientation of time, space and people.  Doesn’t last very long, but it keeps me wondering and waiting every day.

These symptoms are “normal” for someone in my situation, and I cry a lot.

But it’s also a big joke and I laugh a lot.

How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Believe me, it sometimes feels that turning around the train of my thoughts is a Herculian effort.  Staying positive and believing that God is using all of this for my good and His glory is really, really difficult.

And yet, this verse keeps coming back to me.  And every time it makes me chuckle:

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1, verse 27,

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen.”

Man upside down

I think it’s absolutely hysterical that God can possibly take this lump of clay that is my brain and use it for His glory.  It’s funny that while I’m doing the “fake it until you make it” thing, most people don’t notice.  In fact, they tell me that they are blessed by me.

A Blessing?

I blessed YOU?  You’re the one who is healthy, normal, successful.  How can I, in my goofy state, have done anything for you?

I haven’t.  God has.  HE has used my weakness–my “foolishness”–to show me and the world that He is sovereign.  It makes no sense to me that my prayers, my encouragement of someone else, or my writing could possibly help someone.

In His hands, anything can be changed and used for good.

Look at all of the failures, knuckleheads, cheaters, liars, murderers, adulterers, etc. in the Bible.  From Abraham in Genesis to John in Revelation, we read about people who were so imperfect, and yet God had a plan to use the good and the bad for His ULTIMATE good.

The world, and Satan himself, thought that Jesus was the ultimate failure.  He came to earth to be king and He died a brutal death like a common criminal.

I Laugh Because I Think God Does

Smiling boy

If we are indeed made in God’s image, don’t you think He laughs?  I’m sure He does.  Best of all, He has the LAST laugh.

In every single situation in the Bible, God has turned impossible things around in ways people never would have expected.  Gideon led an army in triumph.  Joseph made it from prison to leadership in Egypt.  Daniel was saved from the mouths of lions.  Job lost everything and then gained back twice what he lost.

In every single situation, Satan thought he won.  He thought he won when David was tempted to murder and adultery.  And the world thought so too when David’s son Absalom sought to kill him (well didn’t he deserve it for all that he did?).  And yet David was called “a man after God’s own heart” and through his lineage, the Son of Man would be born.

And the ultimate laugh of all:  when Jesus rose from the dead and defeated our greatest enemy–death.  While the angels were singing on that Easter morning, I imagine God having the biggest belly laugh of all time.  I don’t think it’s irreverent to say that.  I think it’s awesome.

He is the ultimate victor.  Nothing can stop what He plans to do.  Not even a brain injury.  Let Him use it in my life if it will shut up the enemy of my soul as people are blessed by whatever He can do through me for His glory and my good.

So I will laugh about how God is using my “foolishness” now–even through tears.  And I will be laughing through eternally grateful tears on that wonderful day when He and I will sing, shout and snicker together.