Krisann Blair may not have a background in holistic health and nutrition, but she knows what works for her and her family.
A lover of crafts and cooking, Blair said she began using essential oils in her projects and recipes about two years ago for the punch of scent and flavor the oils deliver in each drop. She was wary, however, when people talked about the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
It wasn’t until a friend advised Blair to rub peppermint essential oil on her forehead for a headache — and her headache disappeared — when she realized the oils could be used for so much more.
“I started learning that these do have a therapeutic side, so I started experimenting,” said Blair, a doTERRA wellness advocate at Healthy and Happy Naturally in Jackson, Tennessee. “But I was skeptical of every single oil, so it had to prove itself to me.”
Her morning routine now includes washing her hair with peppermint and melaleuca essential oils, which help “wake” her head up and nourish her scalp. She adds a drop or two of lavender essential oil to her baths to relax, as well as on the bottom of her feet at night to help her sleep better.
Blair also uses essential oils for digestive issues, upset stomachs, sunburns and anxiety, while her husband and son use oils in their facial skin care routines.
“The oils, they put our body into balance so our body can heal themselves,” Blair said. “We’re not doctors; we’re not medical people. But we’re taking a proactive, natural approach to health and wellness.”
Variety of benefits
Essential oils are extracted from a variety of natural sources, such as plant leaves or fruit rinds, said Betty Tignor, owner of Naturally Herbs in Jackson, who was introduced to essential oils about 16 years ago.
Different oils can help with a variety of physical issues, Tignor said, such as with weight loss, pain or inflammation. But the oils also can help someone emotionally or mentally, as different oils can provide a feeling of peace, a sense of strength and balance.
One of the first oils Tignor was drawn to was grapefruit essential oil, which she liked to add to a glass a water and sip throughout the day. She later discovered that the oil can help people recover from a negative self-image, which was a problem Tignor said she struggled with her entire life.
“It just helped my body bring about a balance and let go of those negative feelings,” Tignor said. “I don’t treat anything. I don’t say the oils cure anything. But they can help bring about balance with you so you notice benefits.”
At her store, Tignor said she may try to match a customer struggling with an issue or problem to a corresponding essential oil, which can be rubbed directly into the skin, used in a diffuser or — in some cases — added to food or drinks.
Blair also uses essential oils in bath salts, sugar scrubs and other body products she whips up, as well as in natural cleaning products. People can use essential oils on their pets as well. Blair said she rubs a drop of lavender on the paws of her dog to help it relax during storms.
Blair continues to be drawn to the creative side of essential oils, as she experiments with new ways to add the oils in her everyday life. She has added wild orange essential oil to icing for cakes, lavender essential oil to a lavender and blueberry cheesecake, and oregano essential oil to spaghetti sauce.
Wild orange or peppermint essential oils also can be used in brownie mixes to add a kick of flavor, Blair said. She also brushes lemon essential oil and olive oil onto asparagus before baking, and adds wild orange essential oil in a vinaigrette for a salad.
But not all essential oils can be ingested, Blair noted — just as not everything in nature is suitable for eating. For oils that can be safely added to foods or drinks, a supplemental fact label will be on the bottle, she said.
Tignor added that some oils should be avoided if a woman is pregnant, and oils should be diluted with a drop of olive or coconut oil before being applied to babies. In addition, people should avoid touching their eyes or other delicate areas when applying essential oils.
When it comes to the safety or purity of essential oils, Tignor noted that “you truly get what you pay for.” She has used several brands of essential oils in the past, with those of inferior quality not delivering the same benefits as those of good quality.
While essential oils can be expensive — with a few oils costing hundreds of dollars — Tignor said the oils can be used sparingly and still deliver results. Using more than a single drop of oil per application can be wasteful in many cases, said Tignor, noting that essential oils are all about bringing balance instead of creating haywire.
The purity of the oils makes them more potent than the source, Blair added. She explained that a single drop of peppermint oil equals 28 cups of the tea when it comes to the health benefits.
“The oils just help your body,” Tignor added. “They have properties to help your health, to help you feel better.”
As Blair and her family shift to a more natural lifestyle, she was quick to note that essential oils were not replacing their need for doctors. But essential oils are what Blair and her family often use before turning to over-the-counter medications — and over-the-counter medications before visiting a doctor’s office. For her, it’s a “natural progression.”
“I always say there’s (an oil) for everybody,” Blair said. “No matter where your interest is, I can usually say I’ve got an oil for that.”