Essential Oils: Do Your Research {Naturally Tuesday}

Naturally Tuesday FramedWhenever you consider alternative routes for treating any medical condition, it is really essential for you to do your research.  It is important to seek out information, especially evidence-based information, that will help guide you into making good choices for your family.

For example, if you decide to use essential oils in your home and for your family, it really is necessary for you to do more than just consider one source for your information and instruction.

  • Which essential oils are safe to use on children? Which ones should children avoid?
  • Which essential oils are safe to use neat (directly on the skin, undiluted)?
  • Which essential oils require dilution because they are “hot?”
  • Which essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy?

Although essential oils are plant-based, there are methods for extracting essential oils which can affect the outcome of that which is labeled “essential oil.”  There are essential oils that claim to be unadulterated, organic, pure, certified – and yet because of the process by which they are rendered, include a different chemical composition than a label might indicate.

Because essential oils are not marketed by the FDA, they are not governed by the FDA.  The FDA cannot certify an essential oil, per se, but can only determine its regulation by its intended use.  There are companies that will tell you their essential oil is approved by the FDA, but do not clarify in what use it has been approved.

Why is this important? 

Because when you pursue alternative therapies and treatments in any realm, there will always be “snake-oil salesmen” who will claim all kinds of things to make a buck.  Much like Anne of Green Gables, you may discover that the bottle of hair-dye which promises to turn your hair a beautiful auburn, may indeed turn your hair a sickly green.

There are other enthusiasts who are not out to hurt anyone or cheat or lie or steal.  And fact is, they may not research as deeply as you would assume.  And they may be passing along information that is not entirely accurate without any intent to harm anyone.  BUT research is an essential part of learning to use EOs safely and effectively, so DO. YOUR. RESEARCH.

Because plant-based therapies can have a real impact on the human body, it is important to be both self-educated and cautious when using them.  Don’t take ONE person’s word for anything.  Do your research and see what information you can find out about the claim that you may hear, and then decide for yourself.

For essential oils specifically, it is critical for you to know the latin name of the plant from which the EO is derived.

Certain varieties of spruce or pine are wonderful for use with children (pinus sylvestris, for example), and are recommended for use instead of eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary (which can slow down the heart beat, and for children, that could be terribly dangerous).  Other genus of spruce and pine however, are dangerous and should be avoided (pinus ponderosa – it contains carcinogens). I learned about this HERE.

It is important to know which Essential Oils are safe to use, in what dosage, and for what purpose.

A LOT of people are jumping on the EO bandwagon these days.  I’ll be honest.  I AM ONE OF THEM.  I have yet to sign up with a company to sell any, or even to buy any at a discount.  But I have spent a lot of time reading and researching.  I’ve joined a couple of FB groups that share information and research about EOs and I will continue to incorporate EOs into our home and use them with my family.

I have a HUGE interest in herbal, plant-based, natural medicine – and I always have – so using Essential Oils is just an extension of that.   I do believe that God gave us the gift of plants in The Garden, and that He designed many of them to improve our life and vitality.  They are not all there is to taking care of one’s body, and I do not exclude medication, either.  But I want to weigh the benefits and risks, and doing the research helps me do this.  Just as some medications are approved for specific use, it is important to approach essential oils in the same manner – learn what the EO is best used for, how it can be used, and use it safely!

Do you have experience with essential oils?  What do you have to say about them?

Natural Options for ADHD {Naturally Tuesday}

I’ve been spending a lot of time researching naturally-derived alternatives for a variety of things for my home & family – both medically, nutritionally, chemically, etc.  If you know me or have followed my blog for awhile, you know I have had a history of finding alternatives that use less chemicals and more naturally-derived ingredients.  It is a journey.  I am not a crunchy gal per se, but I definitely want to be a healthier gal and provide a healthier home for my family.  So, I’m launching Naturally Tuesday, where I will write about this journey, my discoveries, my questions, and changes I make.  If I write about this subject, it will be on Naturally Tuesday posts!

Due to some recent changes in our family’s insurance, the meds that our girls have been using for several months are no longer covered.  AT. ALL.   Our girls have been using meds for their ADHD mainly to help them in school and to be able to work through homework without a lot of challenges.  The surprise change to prescription benefits left Roy & I flustered, and our kids dealing with a sudden medication change.

It has been a pretty difficult and challenging experience, despite my husband’s familiarity with medications and their effects, as well as my experience working in the insurance industry.  I spent hours looking through our insurance benefits to see which medications would be covered, which ones wouldn’t, and all the alternatives the insurance suggested.  ugh.

In addition to researching the insurance benefits, I also began researching alternative options for medications.  There are ways to approach the physiological and emotional aspects of ADHD with things other than medication, but since some people don’t even believe in ADHD, there is a LOT of conflict and misinformation.

Through this research, I read several articles and blog posts that recommended a few options like using essential oils, going gluten-free, and adding Omega-3’s to the daily diet.  There are also supplements designed specifically for ADHD, and essential oils and EO blends that are also designed for both the hyperactivity and challenge in focus that is present for many kids with ADHD.  All these suggestions are in addition to behavior modification / disciplinary practices, which even some doctors think is the only REAL option for handling ADHD.

WHATEVER.

We started adding Omega-3s for the girls and honestly, we have seen a difference in their behavior.   It seems as though they are calmer, even with the drastic change in medication.  The medication change happened first, but we were seeing some rebounding effect.  It does seem that the Omega-3s have reduced this rebound effect.  Despite the capsules’ very large size, Curly is actually excited about taking them and I think she feels better for doing so.

We have also been using some Essential Oils (EOs).  Frankincense and Lavender, individually or used together, have had an almost immediate settling effect.  It has taken some practice figuring out that simply applying it to the soles of their feet, and big toes, brings quick relief.  I have used these oils in a diffuser in the room where we are spending time – or doing homework – and it has really helped.  My research indicates that other oils also help with the symptoms of ADHD and I will be trying some of them, too.

NOTES:

  • When applying EOs to children, it is recommended to dilute the oils with a carrier oil like olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, or almond oil (just examples).  Using 2-3 drops of an essential oil along with 10-30 drops of a carrier oil (depending on the EO used) does not reduce the strength of the EO, it just stretches it out!
  • Some essential oils are “hot” and can actually burn the skin when applied directly, so using it with a carrier oil is necessary.  It’s important to learn about EOs and how they can be used, and children usually require some dilution simply because their skin is more sensitive.
  • EOs come from plants, so if you have allergies to specific plants, it is best to avoid their EOs.  Just because they are naturally derived, does not mean you can’t have an allergic reaction.  Using EOs requires some self-education and awareness.

Going Gluten-free is going to be a whole different journey, but one that I am starting to prepare to take.  It requires a different pantry and ingredients for cooking, so will take longer to implement, but we are moving in that direction.

While we navigate the muddy waters of insurance coverage and exclusions, I’m really thankful for some natural alternatives which are even more cost effective.

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a physician.  I am a mom who wants to do what’s best for her kids.  I cannot diagnose or treat any medical or mental health conditions.  I can only share the experiences I have as a wife and mom trying to provide a healthier life for her family.  If you or your children have any medical issues, please consult with your primary care physician.  The EOs I use are doTerra brand, but I am not a representative for them, and I am researching a LOT about essential oils in general, not just one brand or company, because I want to know more about them.  Just like medications, essential oils can have adverse reactions and side effects.  I just prefer to find more naturally-derived products as opposed to synthetic.