A common thread that I find among lots of health-minded people is that they don’t like to take in any food that has toxins in it, but that they don’t consider other means that toxins might enter the body. And it makes sense. The skin is supposed to be this surface that is impermeable to anything that we want to keep out – a barrier against the world around us.
Except… it doesn’t work like that. The skin is an organ that is not only for keeping our bodies together, but for interacting with the outside world. Body hair has sensory functions. Pores let sweat out to compensate for overheating in the body. Touch is a key one of the five senses. And with a simple Google search you can find website after website of information on the various ways that toxins in health and beauty products interact with our body via the skin.
But there’s also no doubt that there are a lot of functions in the human body that can be improved via the presence of outside substances coming through the skin. It only makes sense that evolution would have helped us develop methods to benefit from the world around us – just as I talk about constant varied movement being not only beneficial but required as we evolved moving in lots of various ways, the skin is capable of taking in elements that it expects to be there, and when they’re not, you might not be working at your full potential or health.
Lots of people try to overcome this lack in our modern sterile society with multivitamins and other supplements, but a number are coming to the realization that these products have less-than-stellar side effects. They frequently don’t get ingested well (you’ll frequently hear people say that all multivitamins do is give you expensive urine), they have other ingredients as preservatives, etc. that aren’t well-handled by the body, and more.
One of the ways I’ve discovered to overcome some of this is to use essential oils for various functions in the human body. Essential oils are plant extracts that are pulled out of the plants in various ways such as distillation, either at high heat or lower heat, depending on the process’s effects on the end product. They are taken in three primary ways: aromatically (using a diffuser or something similar), topically (via the skin and its absorption abilities), or internally (swallowing it, basically).
Okay, I hear you saying, you’re getting a little woo-woo again. Everyone knows there’s no proof for this stuff – the FDA says there are no benefits to them. Well, that’s not quite the case: here’s the official disclaimer that essential oil companies need to put on their products: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.” But there are actually lots of cases where studies have been done and found benefits – from cancer research by Leicester University in Great Britain, to irritable bowel syndrome discoveries in the Journal of Gastroenterology, to natural treatments for ear infections, and much more.
I personally am not convinced that a lack of attention by a government agency means that there are no benefits.
And I’d also like to add that there are a ton of studies that are starting up – I was just informed recently about one studying the effects of oils on children with autism starting up here in Columbus at Ohio State, and there was a report not too long ago about the effects of rosemary oil and its improvements of people’s memory.
And let’s not forget that most studies come from people reporting benefits of such stuff but not having them substantiated and having someone look into the science behind it. We’re in the infancy of the actual scientific work on such benefits, but it’s already obviously showing returns.
So I thought I’d share some ways that I have used essential oils today to improve my health and mood, as well as work through the pains of working out!
FULL DISCLOSURE: since discovering these oils and their benefits for myself, I have become a distributor for one of the bigger companies in the industry.
Let’s start with a morning ritual I have picked up recently at the advice of a friend of mine: I put a drop of peppermint oil and a drop of wild orange oil into my hand and rub them together. Then I cup my hands in front of my face and breathe the vapors deeply. This is a wonderful way to wake yourself up and push away morning or mid-day foggy brain. I’ll usually follow this with rubbing my hands on the back of my neck to increase the feeling. It’s also great pre-workout, to get the airways clear, the blood flowing, and some alertness back into my head as I head out to work.
Speaking of clearing airways, I have been a snorer for quite a long time. Ask my wife.
Better yet, don’t… I don’t need the teasing. 🙂
Seriously, though, one of the ways I’ve helped myself get better sleep at night and cleared out my breathing is with a diffuser and two types of essential oils – a Respiratory blend called Breathe (with stuff like Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cardamom, Tea Tree Oil, and others) and a Calming blend called Serenity (with stuff like Lavender, Sandalwood, Vanilla, and more). I sleep better and breathe better, and therefore so does she. Win-win, big time.
I also use the Breathe blend when I have sinus issues, which run in my family. I rub a bit of it (or, in a pinch, just some straight Peppermint oil) on the sides of my nose and under my nostrils. The relief is forthcoming.
How about sore muscles? Anyone ever get those? I use a Soothing Blend called Deep Blue for that purpose. It comes in a plain oil, and also a topical cream (like Icy Hot or Ben-Gay) that you can use. Smells a heck of a lot better, and the relief is pretty complete for me.
And for nicks and scrapes, and immune support, I like to use a Protective blend called On Guard. It’s got Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, and some others to help give antibiotic effects. Cinnamon alone has been long studied for its antibacterial properties.
And just in case you think this is just me, here’s a video with the experiences of a Division I university athletic training room that uses these sorts of oils with their athletes.
So if you’re looking for non-toxic ways to improve your health and vitality – especially in the realm of preparing for your athletic endeavors, you could certainly do worse than to look into essential oils. There are a ton of resources available, the evidence for their effectiveness continues to grow, and it’s so much better than pumping toxins into your system. Give them a try with an open mind!
Have you used essential oils? Have you had luck with them? Do you have questions? Let us know below in the comments, and please share with your friends on Social Media!