Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2018 issue.
We have all heard or read about the perceived benefits of using essential oils to cure what ails you; and the myriad of ways that they are used — from direct application to the skin in massage and key chakra points, to diffusing, steaming and/or adding to a hot bath. Pure essentials oils are highly concentrated compounds that have been pressed or distilled from plants and do not have the fatty or oil component found in cooking oils.
Having been used for more than a thousand years, but trendy for more than a decade, they are called essential as they carry the distinctive fragrance or essence of the plant or plant part they are derived from. These oils have seen an eighty percent rise in use since 2007, supporting the movement away from pharmaceuticals to relieve pain and anxiety.
Rachel Luplow, a lead therapist at SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs, Colorado, uses seven essential oil blends in her 90-minute massage — Chakra Journey. “The concept behind this treatment is to use these essential oil blends from head to toe as each one is designed to balance one of the seven main chakras in the body,” Luplow explains. The following are three oils used for three of the chakras.
“The first blend is Luminous — lavender, ylang ylang, pink grapefruit — attuned to the crown chakra at the top of the head and helps calm the nervous system and lessen headaches. Moving down the body, the Heartful blend — rose and germanium— helps to balance the center of the chest including the immune system and blood flow. A third blend, Sensuous — pink grapefruit and jasmine— is attuned to the chakra near the belly giving a sense of emotional security and relaxation.”
Although there are more than 100 essential oils and blends available today, the following is a bit about five of the most popular scents, with broad perceived health benefits.
Frankincense is one of the oldest and most useful essential oils in the world, extracted from the resin of one of four species of the genus Boswellia. Some of the many uses and benefits of Frankincense essential oil include as a mood enhancer and stress reducer, an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, as well as a digestive aid. Frankincense oil can also help to fade scars and heal wounds faster, as well as easing itching from insect bites and other skin ailments.
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils on the market and for good reason. It smells great and is an effective stress-relieving oil. The name stems from the Latin word ‘lavera’, meaning to wash. In addition to stress-relieving properties, lavender is a healing aid against colds, flu and migraines. Add a few drops to a diffuser or even your pillow before bedtime to get a good night’s sleep.
Peppermint claims a longer list of uses and benefits than any of the other oils including cold and flu prevention as well as treatment of symptoms, relief of joint and muscle pain and inflammation, alleviating headaches and clearing up skin conditions. Use peppermint essential oil to improve digestion, relieve nausea and eliminate gas or bloating.
Tea Tree essential oil is distilled from the leaves and young stems of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. Not to be confused with the tea shrubCamellia sinensis, the oil of the tea tree is actually quite toxic if ingested. However, this favorite among essential oils has earned the moniker “medicine cabinet in a bottle” for its extensive list of extraordinarily beneficial external uses.
Thieves is a powerful combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata and rosemary essential oils for an aromatic blend that fills any space with a rich, spicy aroma. The blended oil is thought to shorten the length of a cold and is also used in dish soap and toothpaste.
Respected brands and where to find them:
- Boulder – Ananda Apothecary, anandaapothecary.com
- Colorado Springs – Debbi’s Aromatherapy (can do custom oils) debbisaromatherapy.com
- Manitou Springs – Salus com
- Vail – Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge (sells Floracopeia Essential Oils) floracopeia.com/Shop/