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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Pocketful of Oils: Our Family's Foray into Essential Oils

Mark and I have always enjoyed using essential oils. When we first bought some scents from Phuket, we burned them in our burner. We also used them for aches and pains. However, some of the oils turned rancid after a while, and we gradually lost interest in them.

Sometime last year, I read somewhere that they could be used to halt toddlers' tantrums in their tracks. Apparently, smelling something new causes the brain to switch gears, long enough such that it helps to take the toddler's mind off the tantrum and thus takes it down to another level, when we can deal with the little one more effectively once his or her emotions are under control. You can watch a fascinating video here on how this works! It has definitely worked for us on more than a few occasions.

However, I have never explored the use of essential oils seriously nor done much reading on how they could be used to help with the daily health challenges our family faces.

With two children under 5 in our household, we are always looking for ways to calm and soothe the senses. Painting is definitely therapeutic.
Recently, our dear friend Wendy most generously gifted us with a set of Everyday Oils by Young Living, as well as a Young Living Diffuser, to try out with our family and to review for our blog.

I did not know what to expect at first. We enjoyed the smells, but I was quite unsure about the effects which using the oils would have on us, nor whether I would be able to keep up with the regimen of "oiling" alongside our daily routine. However, I promised Wendy I would try to use them for a month and let her know if we had found them beneficial.

Our precious oils. Thank you, Wendy! The small squarish book is a reference guide - precious information on how to use the oils for all kinds of conditions from asthma to eye conditions.
Our family was down with a bad bout of flu for the whole month of May, taking turns to fall like dominoes, so I was glad to find any sort of remedy to help with the situation. Mark and I were having a bad throat and Wendy recommended swallowing a drop of Thieves to help soothe the throat.

I had not heard of ingesting oils before, so I decided to inhale the Thieves Oil instead.  It had an instant effect of soothing my sore throat and was a constant "friend" for us throughout the infection! 

Apparently, there are different schools of thought as to how essential oils can be used - the German method of inhalation (which yields one of the most instantaneous results as the molecules are sent directly from the olfactory system into the brain), the British model (which we are most traditionally familiar with, the use of oils in massage or Aromatherapy), and the French School of Thought, which uses both the German and British methods as well as oral ingestion of the oils. The French see the oils as having medical properties for healing as well as boosting immunity. You can read more about these different schools in this well-written blog post. Oils can be used in their neat (undiluted form), or in the case of skin sensitivity and especially with children, they should be used diluted with any form of pure vegetable oil. Extra virgin oil is great for this purpose.

Of course, the thing to remember is that everything we apply on our bodies and especially consume needs to be approached with much caution and medical advice must be sought if applied in combination with any medicines or treatment. Those who practise the use of essential oils are quick to point out that they are not  replacement for seeking medical treatment for illness. 

Rather, I have come to see the use of essential oils as part of our everyday lifestyle, to improve the health and immunity of our family, and also to relieve some of the symptoms we experience due to the toxins and pollutants in our environment. And they are perfect mood enhancers as well!

The Everyday Oils selection. Don't you think the colours are so pretty? Our sons have taken to choosing their own oils and smelling them everyday.

I have taken to toting around my little pocketful of oils in case a need arises. What my favourite oils are and how I have been using them is food for another post! But I can give you a lowdown of what we have been using everyday.

I usually do most of the "oiling" at night as part of our bedtime routine. Our younger son likes helping me add water to the diffuser before I choose the oils to diffuse for the night. (More on the type of diffuser to use in another post.) My favourites for bedtime are the soothing oils like Peace and Calming or Eucalyptus. They fill the room with a piney scent that is soothing and clears any blocked or runny noses.

I rub the oils recommended for children on the soles of their feet. Lavender, peppermint and lemon are some of our favourites. Mark and I have been using a lot of Thieves and Peppermint, especially to clear our sinuses and to help with coughs and sore throats. I have indeed experienced the instantaneous effect of inhaling these oils, and they've often carried me through a tiring day or given Mark an energy boost when he's feeling sleepy in the car on a hot afternoon.

My pocketful of oils. Thank you Wendy!
I really see their effect on our boys when they are having a bad day or on the verge of throwing a tantrum. I rub Valour on the back of their necks and behind their ears, and we have witnessed the calming effect it has on them. 

There is something about the relationship between our senses that I think we do not consider enough in our modern lifestyle, where everything is so compartmentalised. Especially in terms of the effect which our environments have on us. The olfactory is something we often ignore in a culture so reliant on the visual. 

Putting aside even the health benefits of the oils (of which there are many!), there is something to be said about going to bed in a room filed with the scent of sweet eucalyptus, or citrus and ylang ylang (key ingredients of Peace and Calming). 

There is still much to learn about essential oils, and with anything new, part of the job for me will be in the reading up and research on the history and chemistry of the oils. I think they provide a great complement to the routines we have put in place to make our home a calm and peaceful place for our kids to grow up in - as well as provide the natural health remedies which are always a preferred option to falling sick and relying heavily on medication.




If you are interested in exploring essential oils for your family, do drop a note in our blog or email us at marklim.suetan@gmail.com. We would be glad to share our journey with you!

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