In our quest to avoid using drugs (both prescription and over the counter), my family and I started using essential oils about three years ago. Before that time, we had a cabinet full of medicine. Bottles and bottles of cold and cough medicine, Antibiotics, Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil), decongestants (Sudafed), Benadryl, Pepto-Bismol, Tums and even some Ex-lax. We had a small pharmacy of both adult and infant/children’s versions of everything…just in case! We tried not to use them unless we felt it was absolutely necessary, but when you have a child with an upset tummy or a baby that’s teething and can’t sleep – you break out the medicine. We really didn’t know of any other options.
That’s until we were introduced to essential oils. A good friend of the family turned us on to the amazing healing abilities of plants. At first I was a little skeptical. Could oil taken from the root of a plant really be as effective as a drug found on the shelf of Walgreens? Could simply rubbing some oil extracted from Caraway, Ginger and Peppermint on my stomach cure the runs as well as Imodium A-D?! Believe it or not, it does!
So what exactly are essential oils? They are natural extracts from the seeds, stems, roots, flowers, bark and other parts of plants. They have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. The Egyptians used essential oils extensively in medical practice, beauty treatment and food preparation. When King Tut’s tomb was opened, it had many jars with essential oil residue. The Greeks also used essential oils for therapeutic massage and aromatherapy. The Romans used essential oils for personal hygiene purposes. Remember the three wise men in the story of Jesus birth? They brought the new baby Frankincense and Myrrh- both essential oils. In modern times, essential oils have been used to treat wounded soldiers, heal burns and to set a relaxing moods at spas.
There are three ways to use essential oils. They can be diffused in the air to spread oil particles that can cleanse the air and affect mood. You can also just put a couple of drops of oil in your hands, cup them over your nose and mouth and inhale (this works really well to clear a stuffy nose). You can also use essential oils internally but mixing them in a glass of water or putting a few drops under your tongue. The final way to use essential oils is the most common, which is topically. This simply means putting a few drops on your skin and rubbing it in. It is quickly absorbed into the body this way and can give you immediate relief.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time going through all of the common uses for essential oils, if you would like to take a look at an extensive list, it can be found here – DoTerra A-Z Guide of Hundreds of Ailments
What I would like to focus on is how essential oils can be used be athletes.
Muscle soreness / aches – Apply a few drops of Deep Blue (blend of Blue Chamomile, Blue tansy, Camphor, Helichrysum, Osmanthus, Peppermint and Wintergreen), Aroma Touch or Wintergreen to affected areas
Allergies – Apply Peppermint or Breathe (blend of laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemon, and ravensara) topically to back of neck or under nose as needed.
Athlete’s Foot – Apply a couple drops of Oregano, Melaleuca or Clear Skin (blend of rosewood, melaleuca, eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass, and black cumin seed oil ) to area between the toes and around toenails until fungus is gone
Blisters – Apply a few drops of Lavender, Roman Chamomile or Geranium to the blistered area a few times a day.
Chapped Skin – Apply a few drops of Myrrh, Roman Chamomile or Sandalwood to affected area
Fatigue – Inhale or diffuse Peppermint or Rosemary or apply a couple of drops on temples and behind ears as needed.
Inflammation – Apply a few drops of Frankincense, Deep Blue or Wintergreen to affected area or take internally.
Restlessness – Diffuse Serenity, Lavender or Ylang Ylang into the air or apply a few drops to the bottom of your feet.
Sprains – Massage a few drops of Deep Blue, Wintergreen or Basil into the affected area
Sunburn – Apply several drops of Lavender, Peppermint or Melaleuca to affected area hourly as needed.
The above list is just a few of the ways that I use essential oils. We have a large supply (see picture above), so for just about any kind of ailment, I have an oil I can turn to.
We use a brand called DoTerra, but there are other reputable essential oil companies out there. I also know that a company called Mountain Rose Herbs sells quality essential oils. We use DoTerra because of their superior quality. They are certified therapeutic grade, meaning that they are safe and pure – without the potential side-effects associated with over the counter and prescription medications. I would caution you against buying oils from a grocery or health food store. In most cases, these are not pure oils and are diluted to make them cheaper. If they are not pure, there are no guarantees that they are even safe to ingest. Other than researching a company to find out the quality of their oils, I’ve heard of a trick. You can put a single drop of oil on a piece of construction paper, if it evaporates quickly and leaves no noticeable ring, it is pure. If you have a ring left, then it’s likely diluted.
Using essential oils is just one of the many things that I do on a daily basis to help me stay healthy and well during a long season. It’s a small part of the holistic approach that I take when it comes to my training and racing.
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