My journey to essential oils was prompted by desperation. I wasn’t interested in the pretty diffusers, or replacing the candles from my home. I was looking for alternative medicine- I wanted something that I could use therapeutically to treat my health issues without risking the side effects that I had learned the hard way you should never ignore.
Six years ago, I was prescribed a daily medication called Topomax that was supposed to stop my migraines. At first, it was great! It worked really well and I even had significant weight loss as a side effect. I took it for about six months before the other side effects started to kick in.
We’ve all seen the pharmaceutical commercials- it doesn’t matter what the drug is- they show a person looking sad and then getting their lives back thanks to said miracle drug, and then they list the 400 potential side effects. But be honest, do you ever really think about those potential side effects when you start taking a new prescription drug? I certainly didn’t.
Until the morning I work up and I couldn’t talk. My words were slurred and garbled, it sounded like I had drunk an entire bottle of vodka and then put rocks in my mouth. In the beginning it was just enough to make me feel self-conscious about talking, but other people didn’t seem to notice it. And then my mom and sister were commenting on it, and my doctor finally heard it (Ever take your car in to the shop because it’s making a noise only to have the mechanic tell you there is nothing wrong and they don’t hear a noise? That feels so much worse when the conversation is between you and your doctor.)
Almost as soon as other people started to notice the garbled speech, I began to forget words. All the time. It was like my brain was disconnecting from me- the knowledge was still there, I just couldn’t access it. It got so bad that I would end a conversation in tears. This is when I stopped taking the Topomax. Migraines are horrible, but this was worse. Eventually, my speech went back to normal- but my memory never has. I still have a hard time recalling words, and I avoid debates of all kinds because I know I won’t be able to express what I actually mean. The worst part, and it has taken me years to figure this out, is that there are entire periods of my life that I have no memory of at all. Whole events and people that are just gone- which makes for some awkward conversations let me tell you.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in the power of western medicine-but I am also now a believer in its limitations. I’ve spent the last couple of years researching alternative options because of this experience. I pretty quickly came to the realization that there is only so alternative that I am willing to go. When the conversation takes a turn towards my aura, and how I store my memories of past traumas in my liver- I’m out. No offense to anyone at all, but I just can’t do it. Gwyneth, I am not.
Essentials Oils, however, are not that kind of alternative. For starters, there is actual Science backing them up. If you go to Pubmed- which is the online portal for the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you will find tons of studies about Essential Oils and how they work. In fact, let’s take a minute to look at how Pubmed defines essential oils:
“Essential oils (also known as volatile oils) are the basic materials of aromatherapy. They are made from fragrant essences found in many plants. When essences are extracted from plants in natural ways, they become essential oils. Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body.”
Or, as my Dad would say, “Better living through Chemistry!” Just the natural form of Chemistry. And they aren’t just for emotional benefits, which I admit is what I originally thought of when I heard people talking about them. I’m not going to even try to list every benefit that you can get from essential oils- and it is important to remember that just like with a medication, an oil may have a different effect on you than it does on your neighbor (but unlike with medications, they have no real side effects- unless you blatantly ignore common sense rules like don’t drink that whole bottle and don’t pour that undiluted peppermint down your pants.)
For me, finding a high quality oil company that I could trust and believe in was key. And please believe me when I tell you that I did my research. I tried lots of different oils from lots of different companies. I read reviews and studies- I joined chat groups to hear other people’s opinions. What I learned was this- there is a remarkable difference amongst brands in the efficacy of essential oils, and that is affected by many more factors than just, “is it 100% natural?” which is the question I most found debated on the internet. Farming is a complicated process, and there are lots of factors that affect crops: type of farming method used, do they use chemical or organic fertilizer, how much did it rain that season, what time of day were the crops harvested, how long did they sit before being distilled, how long were they distilled… The list goes on and on.
This is important to know because the chemical composition of essential oils has to be very precise if you want it to do more than just smell good. Therapeutic grade doesn’t just mean pure- it means pure and at the highest efficacy. Which is important when you are talking about a product that you are using to treat actual health issues.
I have to stop now because if I talk about actual specific oils and what they can do when used therapeutically, I get into murky FDA waters (bureaucratic nonsense that protects the pharmaceutical companies and their profit margins). However, if you’re interested in learning more- I’m always adding new information to the My Herbal Studies tab- and I’m happy to chat with you, just hit me up and we can talk about how EO’s can help you.
If you’re curious which company I personally use- here’s the link to how you can score them for yourself. My favorite Essential Oils