Something I will look at a lot in this blog are things that I have used myself and am learning about. I will never endorse a product or “health trend” that I haven’t examined myself (the same is true of guest bloggers). Speaking of I can’t wait to show you what my friend is going to talk about this week…oh but I’m getting side tracked. Oils…what’s the big deal? Why is everyone talking about them? What’s the new hype or fad? If you’re like me the conversation has come up everywhere. What’s the big deal? I was the biggest skeptic of all. Yeah, yeah, it’s just another gimmick that is selling really well right now. That’s when my mom handed me my first bottle of peppermint. I thought, ok, I’ll try this but I doubt it works.
As I have said before I had migraine headaches and still occasionally do. Once my Celiac’s was diagnosed and I tossed the gluten they have become EXTREMELY rare. However, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding you can’t exactly just pop Ibuprofen or acetaminophen without thinking twice. In fact while pregnant I refused to take any of these things. That’s when Peppermint came into play. I remembered I had it and once the headache started to come on I rubbed it on the back of my neck, my temples, and the side of my head that was hurting the most (being careful to avoid the eyes of course). And I’m not making this up, in five minutes; my headache was gone. I haven’t turned back. I really couldn’t believe it. Why in the world would peppermint do that? The analytic in me began to go crazy.
As you’ll also see, I LOVE research. I’m kind of a research junkie. Always researching something. Products, food, exercise, anything with medicine, etc. I really tend to doubt anecdotal evidence. I really want to see the science behind it. So here’s the briefest summary to answer the question, what are essential oils and why do they work?
Essential oils really are God’s medicine. They are naturally occurring oils found in plants that are harvested and distilled and then placed into bottles. Because plants and humans have very similar cell biology these chemical compounds can work on human cells much the same way that they can plants. For example, if a virus is going around and someone sneezes on you, you are a moving target, that virus will not definitely land on you although it may. Plants however are sedentary- and come against all kinds of things; disease, internal issues, etc. So these oils are they natural “medicines” that allow the plants to survive in their sedentary lifestyle. That’s all good and well, but just because the oils work on plants why does that mean they will work on us? I do not pretend to be a scientist or a doctor; but the very little chemistry I understand (and I mean very little) applies here. The compounds found inside these oils work to target different cell structures in our body. A certain structure causes vasodilation (opening of blood vessels), another structure causes the cell to be antimicrobial, another to heal scars; these properties (only when in pure form) transfer directly to our bodies.
So in summary peppermint worked on my headache because not only can it cross the blood brain barrier, it has vasodilatory effects. God’s natural pain killer.(see study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7954745) This is the most broad and basic understanding of the oils and why I am using them for my family. I am in no way saying that these oils should replace a medical provider. But knowing that instead of running to a pain killer that can naturally hurt my pancreas and liver (see article by FDA on this http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/Drugs/DrugSafetyandRiskManagementAdvisoryCommittee/UCM164897.pdf); I’m going to start with things that don’t have all those nasty side effects. You do the research…you try them for yourselves, don’t take my word for it. I did, and the more I learn the more amazed I am at how creative and inventive our God really is. I love learning about the way that He heals and restores our bodies while here on earth.
As an aside- This is the broadest of overviews. Over the last few weeks the conversation keeps popping up…what’s with the oils. I wanted to address that question first. And let you decide for yourself. In the future I will doing specific product reviews and how I use certain ones in our home. But I hope this at least gives you a base starting knowledge as you participate in these conversations and learn about natural healing as well!