Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Kindness Chronicles - Everything Essential

As you all know I fell down the stairs a little while back. Hilarious, I know. Well that's not the only way I can amazingly injure myself. Nope! I was cleaning my house and moving paint cans into the garage, doing a very successful job might I add, until I wasn't which would be when I dropped a full can of paint on top of my sandal clad foot. I thought I was genuinely a-okay. I had a cut and it hurt a little, but I was able to walk on it the rest of the day without any real issues. 

Then the evening came and all hell broke loose with my foot.

It swelled up to the size of a small watermelon while turning various shades of the ocean. I was already in bed asleep when I realized I was far worse off than originally thought. The sheet that was touching my foot was equivalent to someone parking their car right on top of it. I couldn't move it, not a single toe, without wanting to scream. I was honestly surprised by all of this since I was fine and dandy earlier in the day.

I attempted to get up and fix myself with some essential oils, however, walking like a normal person was now not an option. First, I tumbled out of bed onto my knees. Then, I dragged myself to the living room to grab an aromatherapy book so I could double check dosages on oils. I resembled that of a cowboy from a western who had just been shot in the leg. Also, dragging myself along the carpet, inch by inch, did not help as I added rug burn to my list of wounds. Once in the living room it occurred to me that I had made a poor choice as I had to drag myself all the way back to the the bathroom to get the oils. There I literally laid on my bathroom floor crying like a fool while I started to dose myself with a blend of essential oils. I was certain I was never going to walk again, that I should just die there and be done with it all. Dramatic, I know. 

Cut to 36 hours later and I'm better. WAY better, like healed by angels or magical fairy dust and leprechauns kind of better. So much better that I didn't think anyone would believe that I couldn't walk the day prior. No swelling at all, a tiny cut from the original damage and a bruise so faint that it practically wasn't even there. I go into work after having worked from home the day after The Incident since I didn't want to put a shoe on it. I just wanted it healed up ASAP. None of my coworkers are in the office that day so the only person I see is the manager from downstairs. I'm sitting at my desk, so he can't see my foot, and he's telling me how awful my injury sounded (which it was) and how he hopes I can walk like a normal person one day soon (which I can). I realize, with a small amount of panic, that no one is going to believe just how banged up I was. Here I am walking normally like nothing happened. I went from "I think my foot needs to be amputated" kind of pain to "I think I'll go for a jog, and jump rope, and hopscotch!"

 How was I going to get them to believe me? I needed a middle ground and I decided that pretending was it. So...I decided to limp. Had my coworkers been there I wouldn't have. They know me and my holistic ways. But they weren't and I didn't want, or have time, to explain my miracle to everyone else who does not understand my holistic ideas, so I just limped. I gave up after about two hours and went home since I looked and felt like an idiot. I did, however, limp on the way out to seal the deal. True story ladies and gentlemen, true story.

And now to the point.

A very safe and very effective way to treat yourself is with essential oils, or Aromatherapy. Essential oils are simply and utterly amazing. I swear by them for absolutely everything. Bruises, pain, digestion, detox, relaxation, energy, you name it. Just a few drops can alter your well being in a matter of moments. For example, the health benefits of one drop of peppermint oil are equivalent to having had 500 cups of peppermint tea. You could never drink that much tea in a day to gain that much of it's amazingness.

Let's start with the basics. Essential oils stimulate and support the body's own natural healing capabilities. They treat the cause of the issue, not the symptoms. They can be used for emotional and mental healing, physical healing, and energy healing. Essential oils, or EO's, are derived from plant sources and the very best ones are all natural with no synthetic compounds.

EO's will vary in strength, smell, and overall effectiveness based on their place of origin and on the method of extraction used to get the oil from the plants. Regardless, as long as they are all natural, they will work. Every EO is different in what it is capable of doing. Some relieve pain, some calm the system, some heal injuries, and some help the respiratory system. Each one has it's own unique properties and those should always be considered when selecting your EO.

There are certain safety precautions to take into consideration as well, which is why I strongly suggest going to a certified Aromatherapist for any EO use. They can help to get blends made for you and your specific concerns. Essential oils are very, very powerful and most people don't realize just how effective they are. One drop can change everything.

Some things to keep in mind:

Your skin is the largest organ on your body and since most methods of EO use involve skin contact, you should understand all the systems they will touch. They will go to your heart, blood stream, muscle tissue, joints, and internal organs. This is why going natural is important. Anything you put on your skin, chemically made or natural, will hit these same paths in your body. (See blog: Skin Health - What you need to know NOW).

How many drops you use is important and again, this is why I suggest talking to someone who specializes in this. Just a few drops is enough to make a HUGE difference.

Essential oils should be kept in a cool, dark place. They will go bad if they are in direct sunlight and most of them have a shelf life of six months. This is another reason to go to an aromatherapist. They have cupboards full of oils ready for blending. When you buy your own bottles it can be difficult to use up everything before they go bad. This way you never have to even think about it.

Always test an essential oil on your skin before use to ensure you don't have a reaction to it. Your aromatherapist should do this for you. Most will be fine, but certain ones are very strong. Lavender, for example, is the safest EO there is which is why it's used in so many spa products. There are no negatives effects to it, while there are with others.

EO's should never be used "clean" which basically means never placed straight on the body without water or a fatty substance to absorb them. You have to have had plenty of experience with EO's before you even attempt that. Trust me. I once had an aromatherapy massage and the girl doing it was not well versed in the use of essential oils. Why she was even permitted to use them is beyond me. She literally sprinkled dozens of drops, clean, right on to my back, causing me to become very, very ill for two days straight. This is not what should happen when the procedures are followed correctly.

Citrus EO's are phototoxic. This means that for 24 hours after use you cannot go hang out in the sun as they can burn your skin. This doesn't mean you should avoid them, as they are some of the most important essential oils. It just means you have to be careful. Certain citrus ones do no fall into this toxicity profile, but overall caution with the sun is recommended.

Certain EO's, like Clary Sage, cannot be used with alcohol. This one oil will make you drunker than a skunk if you even just have one glass of wine while using it.

Most importantly remember that all EO's can have strong effects on the body, so you must make sure to check what the precautions are for each oil before use. Certain ones cannot be used with medication as they will throw if off completely and/or make you ill. The oil itself is safe on it's own, but when mixed with medication it is highly unsafe. Again, lavender is by far the safest EO for everyone, so if you want to try something, start there.

My gramma fell a couple years back and bruised her face. Her arms were hurting her and she was just plain achy everywhere. I got her a bottle of lavender oil, tested it on her, and had her use it daily. Her bruise healed up quickly and her pain was gone completely. She was so relieved to have the pain gone and I was so thrilled to have her feel better. Now she uses it anytime she hurts and no longer needs an over the counter pain reliever.

On that note, a quick story on lavender oil.

It was the first essential oil discovered. A perfume maker was making a new blend using some lavender essential oil and accidentally severely burned his entire hand. Imagine the very worst burn you could and that is how bad it was for him. He went to dip his hand in a vat of water, but instead dipped it in the EO container. A week later his burns were healed - completely. No scars, no signs of a burn at all. His hand was like new. This is the power of essential oils.

Essential oils are truly amazing. Yes, caution should be used with them, but caution should really be used with everything involving your body. Medications have far more dangerous side effects than any essential oil ever could. You just have to know the details and as long as you go to someone who knows what they're doing you won't need to worry about anything. The healing benefits far and wide outweigh the precautions. Plus, they're all natural which is the kindest possible thing you can use on and for your body. Trust me when I say you'll fall in love with them quickly. There's nothing better than something that smells like heaven and makes you feel like you just had a spa treatment.

If you want in-depth information on aromatherapy, I recommend the Aromatherapy for Bodyworkers book by Jade Shutes and Christina Weaver. You don't have to be a bodyworker to get a great deal of information from this amazing book.

Enjoy playing around with essential oils! I'm here if you have any questions.
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The Kindness Chronicles: Full Series
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