Hi! My name is Missy and I am Head Domestic Engineer in this research lab we call a home. We are severely understaffed with only me and my husband, Brian, being employed here. Our research material consists mainly of, but is not limited to, two boys ages 4 and 7.
Is it sad that the most recent picture I have with all four of us is from Christmas?
In the past several years, we in the department of Domestic Engineering have seen a movement among homemakers toward a healthier “back to basics” paradigm. Trends like gluten-free or whole food diets, homemade cleaners, and homeopathic medicines have gained popularity; some with warrant, and some without. For example, transitioning to a gluten-free diet based solely on its association with the healthy lifestyle movement can have you eating sugar-rich, protein deficient, expensive, trendy junk food in no time. Likewise, expectations that somehow switching from your expensive, over-marketed name brand detergents to a simple homemade concoction will ease your ring-around-the-collar woes are often unrealistic and unfounded.However, the fact that many (myself included) can bear testimony to the helpfulness of some of these new-old product switches should lead us to believe that something must be working. The difference, friends, is all in your expectations. We should talk helpfulness and not absolute effectiveness. If you are looking for a cheap alternative to Tide that will whiten, brighten, and fragrance your clothes as well as this mega brand you are unlikely to find it in the borax-washing soda-Fels Naphtha formulation (I don't know if this is the site Missy used, but click here for information on it) which has been used exclusively in my home for the past two years. My expectations were twofold: Cheap and Clean. Voila, a formula for success.
So, when it comes to Essential Oils, should you have high expectations or is this one fad you should simply skip? Hopefully my experience can help you decide.I have IBS. I know, not a fun topic to think about and even less fun to address with complete strangers. Blech. My symptoms reached a boiling point this summer in mid-August when I couldn’t go a single day without a flare-up. I had tried elimination diets to attempt to pinpoint any dietary culprits without success. My family was planning to vacation to Branson, Missouri in two weeks and I couldn’t be more than 2 minutes away from the nearest restroom. Kind of takes road tripping and kayaking out of the question. I was literally in tears, crying to my friend that I had no idea what to do.
When I was diagnosed 5 years ago, I was told there wasn’t really anything to do about it. I could attempt to manage the symptoms as flare-ups arose but all that could be done with over the counter medications. And it wasn’t working this time.So I started researching. I perused the medical websites, reading articles in any medical journal I could get my eyes on. You may or may not know that doctors often prescribe antidepressants to IBS patients in an attempt to ease their sufferings. Unfortunately, clinical trials don’t support the effectiveness of these meds as being any better than placebo. The most promising article I came upon talked of a double-blind placebo study* in which peppermint oil was shown to relieve or improve symptoms by at least half in 75% of study participants (versus 38%** of placebo participants). I was desperate. And I really couldn’t believe that it could be so simple.
I have a friend who is a doTerra rep and I called her immediately to order the starter kit containing lavender, peppermint, and lemon oils. I don’t tout their brand of oils over any other particular brand, I will let their salespeople do that, but it was the only place I knew I could go to for pure, clean oils that were acceptable for internal use.
My choice to use doTerra oils began with nothing more than my knowledge of them and my lack of knowledge of other brands.
Be advised, not all essential oils are food-grade. I have a bottle of Sweet Orange Essential Oil I bought in the eco-friendly section of Hen House which states plainly “Not for internal use”. The bottle says it is “pure aromatherapy” type oil. I store it with my cleaning supplies so there is no confusion. When we were cloth diapering I used Tea Tree Oil for its antiseptic properties and continue to use it as a cleaning aid when cleaning bathrooms and floors.
I store my non-food-grade oils with my cleaning supplies.
For the record, I could have gone with an enteric coated capsule of peppermint oil from a health food store, but I wanted to try the oil on many different ailments and did not want to be limited by the capsules.In addition to IBS, I am also a mild allergy sufferer. I’ve never been tested, so I’m not sure what exactly I’m allergic to but I can assure you that the list includes furry animals. Cats and dogs specifically. My friend (the doTerra rep) has been enamored with her essential oils for a couple of years, and quite honestly I thought she was a little nutso about it.
The day my shipment of oils arrived at her house, she called me up and we planned to meet the next morning. I woke, stuffy nosed and itchy-eyed as usual. Remember above when I told you I’m allergic to cats? I know because I have two. And you thought my friend was nutso. But I digress.I arrived at her house and she showed me how to make the “Allergy Elixir” which consists of two drops each of Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon Essential Oils in a shot glass about half full with water.
Down the hatch.
Yes, it tastes as disgusting as it sounds and that’s why we do it in a shot glass. Try not to taste it. And have a chaser ready in case your peppermint oil makes your mouth burn. Within 30 minutes my itchy eyes and stuffy nose were better. And no, sassy-pants, it’s not because I was at her house and not mine. She has a cat too. Sheesh. You guys are a tough crowd. I apologized to my friend for thinking she was nutso. She forgave me. We’re tight like that.Over the course of that week, I continued to take shots of peppermint and water throughout the day. I wish I could tell you exactly how much I took, but all I can tell you is I downed a shot as many times as I thought of it and each one had 2 drops of oil. One of the side effects of peppermint oil is acid reflux which is why most people opt for enteric coated capsules. The coating allows the pill to get into a lower part of your intestine before dissolving so that it won’t cause the reflux. And minty burps, it also causes minty burps.
Every time I had tummy cramps, I loaded a tablespoon of olive oil with several drops of peppermint oil and rubbed it on my stomach. Eventually when I got used to the intense tingling sensation of the mint, I nixed the olive oil altogether. Now, even my 7 year old uses the peppermint straight-up on his tender tummy. It was like a miracle in a bottle. My symptoms went completely into remission and I have had maybe two episodes since September. That’s 5 months. In all fairness, you should also know that I did eliminate coffee from my diet at the same time I began the peppermint trial. But I have since added a single 6 oz. cup of coffee back into my daily routine without incident.After clearing up my mild allergy symptoms and forcing my IBS into remission I was pretty impressed and began using the oils for any and every ailment on every member of our house.
Hubby has a headache? Peppermint on the temples.Kiddos too keyed up to sleep? Lavender on the back of the neck.
You can tip the bottle and pour a drop on the pillow, or you can tip the bottle with your finger over the hold and swipe some directly on the skin at the back of the neck.
Stuffy nose? Lemon shots or lemon oil on the back of the neck.
Achy feet? Peppermint on the soles.
Paper cuts? Lavender.
Sore muscles? Peppermint massage.
Starting to feel a tickle in the throat? Lemon again.
Car sickness? Peppermint.
There are lists upon lists of suggestions for the uses of these oils. Just Google it, or look on Pinterest.Since October I have wanted to add Oregano to our arsenal as it’s a known antiviral, but honestly the Triumphant Trio have been doing so well that I haven’t needed to. We have had exactly one occurrence of the sickies in my house this winter, and it was my youngest with a tummy bug. No sniffles, no colds, no flu.
We still use Ibuprofen and other meds when necessary, but we almost always give our oils a shot first. Wow, my puns are killer today.
In conclusion, I would say that as long as your expectations are reasonable and you realize that sometimes products were developed and marketed because traditional methods were insufficient, you have a pretty good chance of being satisfied with the performance of essential oils in your house and with your family. Just don’t expect it to be like those Scrubbing Bubbles commercials where the cleanser does a Broadway number on your toilet tank while also obliterating every germ in your house and removing 20 year old soap scum residue.
*Cappello G., Spezzaferro M., Grossi L., Manzoli L., Marzio L. (2007) Peppermint oil in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo controlled randomized trial. Dig Liver Dis 39:530–536. [PubMed]**The 38% of placebo users who saw improvement in symptoms were those whose flare-ups had gone into remission of their own accord.
Wow! I don't know about you but I just learned a TON. Thank you so very much for sharing your experience with us Missy! I seriously am going to have to look into adding the use of essential oils into our lives.