You’ve likely heard of essential oils, but do you know of their health benefits? From boosting energy and
immunity to reducing anxiety and inflammation, essential oils do much more than “smell good.” Meredith
Irmin, founder and CEO of spOILS Wellness, is a certified aromatherapist and has worked with essential oils
for the past eight years. She is a national speaker on holistic healthcare and works alongside many
healthcare providers to safely incorporate essential oil protocols into wellness programs. She offers an in-
depth look into essential oils and how they may help you manage lymphedema or just your day-to-day tasks
What exactly is an essential oil? Essential oils come from the leaves, flowers, bark, stem and roots of plants and trees. These concentrated chemical compounds give the plant its aroma, protect and heal the plant, help the plant reproduce and assist with other important functions. We capture these volatile oils through a variety of extraction methods – steam distillation and cold press are the most common and effective. Pure essential oils that are free from synthetics and adulteration can be used aromatically, internally and topically to aid and assist with a multitude of health concerns, as well as assist the body in preventing further issues.
Over the years, I have I found that essential oils have helped hundreds of health concerns both episodic and long-lasting. The most common reasons people use essential oils are immune support, sleep, stress/anxiety, relief from inflammation and detoxification. Essential oils are potent, work quickly in the body and lack side effects. My clients are often shocked at how quickly their bodies respond to holistic therapies.
Benefits for Lymphedema
There has been great success implementing essential oils in protocols for people managing lymphedema. The most effective is receiving manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) massage and incorporating oils like Cymbopogon flexuosus (lemongrass), juniperus communis (juniper berry), citrus limon (lemon), and citrus x paradisi(grapefruit). Citrus oils are a strong option for MLD, but use caution when incorporating them as they can make the skin photosensitive. You may be highly photo-sensitive for at least 12 hours following MLD massage using cold-pressed oils like lemon or grapefruit. Use sunscreen and limit sun exposure after using these oils.
When your skin is under chronic inflammation it is highly sensitive and vulnerable to infections from even the most minor cut or bug bite. As skin loses elasticity and infections become more frequent, incorporating anti-inflammatory essential oils are the most effective at reducing tissue congestion. Adding oils like Boswellia (frankincense), copaifera (copaiba), ables sibirica (Siberian Fir) to the MLD stroke are good options.
Using natural bug repellant that is free from toxic additives is another simple option. Oils like eucalyptus citriodora (lemon eucalyptus) are excellent choices and free from synthetic disruptors that could further irritate compromised systems.
Aromatherapy also serves an emotionally supportive role. Using diffusers or aroma inhalers can reduce anxiety. Diffusion at bedtime helps promote a deeper, restful sleep. Aroma Inhalers help with anxiety, nausea, distressing procedures, smoking cessation, pain and odor issues. Applying oils to pulse points and the back of the neck also provide immense emotional support. When oils are applied directly to the skin, be sure to use a carrier oil so that the body can properly metabolize the essential oils. Citrus oils uplift the mind, roots and grasses provide a sense of grounding and control, florals are soothing and calming. I am always eager to help individuals, clinics, and therapists safely incorporate aromatherapy into their existing practices are programs. The most effective experience a client can have with essential oils is when an aromatherapist customizes blends specifically for them. Consulting with an aromatherapist you can eliminate the guess work and save you time and money.
Buyer Be Aware
The essential oil marketplace is very difficult to navigate. Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA as they are considered supplements. Note that 90% of the brands available on the market are adulterated and contain synthetics. These additives are toxic to everyone and because of essential oils are so concentrated these additives can be very harmful even in the smallest amounts. Here is my list of “The 10 Oil Commandments” to help you make an informed choice:
- The label should list the names the common and scientific (Latin) name of the source plant. If it is diluted, THAT SHOULD BE LABELED AND THE CARRIER OIL SHOULD BE LISTED. All blends should list all oils therein.
- Each bottle should be labeled with the recommended usage guidelines for that oil. Aromatic (A) topical (T) Internal (I) sometimes they are written out, most times they are labeled with these letters
- The Therapeutic Grade should be clearly listed and or advertised. Perfume grade always contains synthetics. The more testing an oil undergoes the higher its therapeutic grade. A company should not perform its own quality control tests, it is a conflict of interest.
- The bottle should be dark glass or cobalt, tightly capped, stored and presented upright with a tight-fitting orifice reducer. Dropper tops should only be added after YOU purchase the bottle.
- High quality oils only come in 5, 10, and 15 mL sizes. It may not seem like much, but you will only be using one to two drops at a time. When you consider cost per drop, essential oils are not expensive. Therapeutic Grade Lemon oil usually runs $14 a bottle, so in a 15mL bottle, cost per drop is 3 cents.
- OILS THAT ARE ALL PRICED THE SAME raise a giant red flag. Each oil requires a unique process of growing, harvesting and extracting as well as a different amount of plant material. Lemon oil should not be the same price as Rose oil. A gift box of oils from a retailer for $20 is not a good “deal” and will probably cause rashes and endocrine disruption in the body.
- Most high-quality oils offer an expiration date for shelf life, but this is because most have been approved as food grade and are stamped with the acronym GRAS in the U.S. for use in cooking. This doesn't mean they are safe for internal usage, just an indication of how long they have been sitting on the shelf.
- Do you recognize the company name? Have you researched it and feel comfortable with what you found? Do they use brokers to purchase the oils? Are they paying the sourcing farmers and distillers a fair price?
- Smell the oil for a crisp, clean and balanced scent. Feel the oil to see if it leaves a residue. Check for quick skin absorption with only a clean scent remaining. If the scent adversely affects you or the oils do not absorb, proceed with caution.
- How much do you have to use to achieve your desired results? If it's more than one or two diluted drops, you have a lesser quality oil. If you use a lot and experience no results, have skin irritations or other symptoms, you probably have a lesser quality oil.
Great as Gifts
With the holiday season approaching, there are many aromatherapy options that would make amazing gifts. Diffusers, aromatherapy bracelets, roller blends, scar/trauma oil, bath salts, aroma inhalers, linen sprays can be combined to make unique and personalized gift baskets that provide physical and emotional wellness support. Check out my Facebook page, spOILS Wellness LLC, for ideas, or contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or text 702-719-9562. Happy Oiling!
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