Hello and welcome to the beautiful world of plant medicine! My intention is that this blog site will serve as a fun and educational resource for you to learn more about ways to heal naturally while supporting our planet and being kind to animals.
My mission is to educate people to live life a bit greener, kinder, and more self-aware.
I was fortunate to grow up in a household where we saw a traditional medical doctor annually and also a naturopathic doctor many times in between. Having a vitamin and herbal tincture cabinet was commonplace back that, and still is for me today. While science and advanced technology offer so many amazing solutions, there is something to be said for the ancient arts of holistic health and healing.
As an important reminder, please know that your body already knows exactly what it needs for you to function at optimal health. Please listen. Your health and well-being truly is the foundation of your life, and just one of the many things to be grateful for.
Peace and Love,
Some FAQ's answered (from a previous blog post of mine)...
- What exactly IS Aromatherapy?
- What are essential oils and where do they come from?
- How do they work exactly?
- What is a carrier oil and why is it used?
These are common questions that I've been asked over the years. I'll mention some basics here in this blog to offer a general overview.
Brief History on Aromatherapy:
Although the term Aromatherapy was not coined until the late 1920s, the roots of this widely used method of plant-based therapy run deep throughout our history. The use of essential oils dates back at least one thousand years, though humankind has used aromatic plants for incense, medicine and perfumery for thousands of years.
It is believed that the Egyptians invented the first distillation equipment, and created oils infused with herbs for use in rituals, medicine, cosmetics, and perfumery.
Years later Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, studied the effects of essential oils on health, and promoted their use for medicinal benefits.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and a painful burn experienced by French chemist René-Maurice Gatttefossé gave birth to the word commonly used to describe the use of essential oils today – Aromatherapy. While working in his laboratory, Gatttefossé suffered a bad burn. Out of reflex, he plunged his arm into the nearest liquid, a vat of Lavender oil. He was amazed by how quickly the burn healed, and without scarring! This piqued his interest in essential oils even further, and through his study and definitive writings on the subject, Gatttefossé is now remembered as one of the pioneers of Aromatherapy. In 1937 he published the book, Gatttefossé’s Aromatherapy, which is still in print today.
Other notable Aromatherapists who helped lay the foundation for modern practice are:
- Jean Valnet, who used aromatherapy to treat soldiers during WWII, and is also known for his book The Practice of Aromatherapy.
- Madame Marguerite Maury, an Austrian biochemist who brought aromatherapy into the world of cosmetics and developed their use in massage therapy.
- Robert B. Tisserand, an English Aromatherapist recognized for bringing aromatherapy to English speaking populations, and for writing the first aromatherapy book published in English in 1977, The Art of Aromatherapy.
What exactly IS Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process. (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy)
What are essential oils and how are these aromatic essences extracted from plants?
Essential oils are not really oils at all. An essential oil is a liquid that is generally distilled (most frequently by steam or water) from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant. They contain the true essence of the plant it was derived from, the life force energy of that plant. Essential oils are highly concentrated. A little goes a long way!
While steam distillation is the most common way to extract these aromatic essences from plants, other methods are used as well. These methods can include expression, solvent extraction, or distillation (vacuum, molecular, or water).
Essential oils are NOT the same as perfume or fragrance oils. Where essential oils are derived from true plants, perfume oils are artificially created fragrances or contain artificial substances and do not offer the same benefits are pure essential oils do. (more details in a future blog post.)
Unfortunately a lot of products out there are labeled as aromatherapy but are fragranced with perfume oils or other synthetic ingredients. Always check the ingredients listed on the item you wish to buy.
How do they work exactly?
Essential oils can enter the body through topical use or inhalation.
You may notice that some sources cite ‘ingestion’ as a means of using essential oils. This is NOT a recommended practice in the United States. In some other countries such as France, this is more common, but ONLY by specially trained physicians.
Our skin is somewhat permeable. The active chemicals in essential oils are absorbed through our skin. So you see, what we put ONTO our bodies is equally as important as what we put INTO our body (through eating/drinking).
Essential oils are made up of tiny molecules that are very easily absorbed. Each essential oil has a unique chemical composition of terpenes, esters, oxides, alcohols, phenols, ketones, and aldehydes.
These chemical components interact with bodily systems and, depending on the essential oil, can cause different effect in one’s body, such as relaxation response, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, immune system stimulator, muscular relief, mood enhancer, etc.
The olfactory system includes all physical organs or cells relating to the sense of smell. When we inhale through the nose, airborne molecules interact with the olfactory organs and, almost immediately, the brain. Molecules inhaled through the nose also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. Essential oils that are inhaled can affect the body through several systems and pathways.
During inhalation, odor molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through a variety of receptor sites, one of which is the limbic system, or emotional brain. The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. This relationship helps explain why smells often trigger emotions as well.
What is a carrier oil and why is it used?
Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils before they are applied topically. Carrier oils actually aid in absorption. They are so named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin.
Some examples of carrier oils are: Jojoba, grapeseed oil, aloe vera oil, avocado oil, almond oil
Always consult with a trained professional regarding proper blending ratios of essential oils to carrier oil quantities.
Hopefully this has been a helpful overview. Thanks for reading!
Peace and Love,
Yes, this is kind of a long list. But well, they are all important! Guess this is the scientist in me. Waving my peace signs around does help to spread love, light, and all those good vibes, but unfortunately will not magically save me (or you) from unsafe and careless use of these delicate beauties from nature. So please read, review, and if you have any questions – just ask! Peace and love, peace and love…
General Safety Precautions
- Keep all essential oils out of reach of children, the elderly, and pets. A trained professional in essential oils can recommend safe and effective use. Please see my other blog posts for more explanation on each group.
- Please note that certain animals should NEVER be given essential oils.
- Do not ingest oils. Please consult medical attention immediately if this occurs.
- Do not use photosensitizing essential oils before to going into a sun tanning booth (Do you really want to do this anyhow?) or the sun. Please wait at least 24 hours. This refers to essential oils that are applied topically to one’s skin. Please see my blog post on photosensitizing essential oils for more clarification on this.
- Certain essential oils or combinations of essential oils are not recommended for use with some medical conditions. These include having a personal history or family history of certain cancers, hypertension, epilepsy, or asthma. If you have allergies, hay fever, are taking certain medications, or are pregnant, please consult with a trained professional before using essential oils too.
- Avoid the use of undiluted (neat) essential oils on the skin, unless otherwise directed to do so. Some pure essential oils can be used undiluted; there are a select amount of them. Always speak with a trained professional to be sure of the right frequency, intensity, and duration of use.
- It is recommended to use a patch test before applying any products to the skin. You can do so by placing a few drops of the essential oil onto a bandaid and put on your forearm. Check this area after 12 and 24 hours. If this location does not show any signs of dermal reaction, the essential oils would appear to be safe for your topical use.
- If you have allergies or sensitivities to particular flowers, nature, or food-related allergies, you most likely will be sensitive or allergic to these same things in essential oils. After all, pure essential oils come in a highly concentrated amount! A couple of examples of this would be: if you are allergic to ragweed, then you may have allergies to roman or german chamomile essential oils, as they are harvested from the same plant family. However if you suffer from hay fever (not resulting from ragweed), then these delightful chamomiles (german especially) may be helpful due to their anti-allergenic properties. If you had a food allergy to sage, then topically use of it may prove the same type of reaction to it aw well. (Holistic tidbit… regular chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, acupressure, foot reflexology… all can help to strengthen your immune system and decrease/eliminate allergies.)
- Keep essential oils away from the eyes. Plain and simple. Always close your eyes when misting or spraying an essential oil blend. Always wash your hands after topical use of any blends. Err on the side of caution and use common sense.
- Accidents do happen… If you were to get any essential oils in your eyes, flush your eyes with whole milk or cream (any kind – almond, cow, soy), and then water for at least five minutes. Please consult a doctor.
- If you do happen to have an unfavorable reaction to using any essential oils topically, please use whole fat milk or cream. This is the best way to quickly remove these oils from your skin. If you do not have whole milk or cream, use a carrier oils such as grapeseed oil, jojoba, olive oil, etc. Once removed, please flush with water and allow to air dry. Discontinue use and contact whomever you purchased your product from to let them know.
Why whole fat milk or cream? Essential oils are not water-soluble. They need to bind with a fatty substance to be absorbed.
- Essential oils are highly flammable substances and should be kept away from direct contact with flames of any kind. Always store them in a cool, dry, and happy place. Yes, I did say 'happy'. Since essential oils are practically the life force energy of plants, being kind to them is just like being kind to our planet. Mother Earth will appreciate this! Keeping essential oils in the refrigerator helps to prolong their shelf life as well.
- Essential oils may stain your clothes.
- Always clean up any spills right away. The best way to clean up an essential oils spills is with grain alcohol (100 proof vodka).
- Avoid prolonged use of the same essential oils. You will know when your body, mind, and spirit have absorbed all that it needs from a particular essential oil or blend. It may not longer resonate with you, or you will feel a strong internal urging to try something new. Please honor your body’s wisdom!
Peace and Love,
Clinical aromatherapy is the controlled use of essential oils to help bring balance to physical, emotional, and psychological wellness goals. Essential oils are natural essences extracted through steam distillation or expression of aromatic plants. Each oil has its own unique aroma and its own therapeutic properties based on its chemical makeup.
Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process. ~ National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
Kristin graduated from a 250 hour R.J. Buckle Associates course, Clinical Aromatherapy for Health Professionals at Boston Medical Center in March of 2013. She is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner (CCAP). This intensive module-based program consisted of 33 clinical case studies, cumulative exam, and presentation of a research project. This course is designed for health care professionals.
Kristin uses both Eastern and Western approaches to aromatherapy by choosing essential oils for their chemistry and known clinical outcomes (Western) as well as their energetic affinity for body systems (Eastern).
After a rather long road to publication beginning in 2013, I am excited to share that my research on essential oils has been published in the IJPHA 2015 issue (International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy.) YAY! My research tested the effectiveness of a blend of essential oils during the recovery phase of long distance runners.
Click on PDF link below to read about this on page 25. Thank You!
For those who may not know, I completed an intensive Clinical Aromatherapy program at a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston, MA, MA beginning in 2011. Created by Dr. Jane Buckle, this program was developed for those in the health care industry to bring the art and science of using natural essential oils to the medical field, as an adjunct to traditional care. Upon graduation in 2013, I received my CCAP ~ Certification as a Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner.
This clinical program also included a research component. One of the requirements for completion was to create and execute a research project using 1-4 (of the 33) essential oils that we had been studying. The spectrum was broad and the canvas was blank. Daunting for some, yet I thrive on endless possibilities!
Around that time I had taken part in another Reach the Beach Relay -- 200 miles, 2 vans, 10 runners, and 24 hours to complete the 200 miles. Fun!!
Now the first time you ran, it was pretty easy. Yet after the second run many hours later (and possibility in the middle of the night), one tends to be a bit sore… And by the time your third and final run comes, you're sleep-deprived, sore, and slightly delerious! Yes, still FUN! :-)
Since I had never completed a research project to this extent before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Yet I knew I needed to find an audience of participants that would commit to my protocols to completion. I thought, 'What better participants than runners!' Who else is going to get up at the crack of dawn, rain-shine-or snow, to run because 'it's their scheduled run and that's what they do'. If you are a runner, you totally get this. And if you're not a runner, well I guess you could say we're a bit crazy. Dedicated and committed is my word of choice. However a bit of crazy is mixed in I'm sure!
So I set out to create a research project that would be helpful for future Reach the Beaches and race trainings with a group I knew would commit and follow through. The rest, well you can read about it below! After a rather long road to publication beginning in 2013, I am excited to share that my research on essential oils has been published in the IJPHA (International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy.) YAY!
If you are interested in reading this journal article, please let me know and I'd be happy to share it!