Have you ever wondered what are the benefits of essential oils? Do you have questions like: Which essential oils are often used to ease stress? Can they relieve headaches or other illnesses? There are so many types of essential oils, how can I learn about them? Well, I have wondered about this myself and thought I should do some research to find out how they can benefit me, so I took the time to find someone who has a thorough understanding of essential oils in order to learn a little bit more about them. I spoke with Maria Spears to get some of my questions answered.
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A Little About Maria Spears
Maria Spears is a women’s self-worth strategist & mindset coach, with the Woman School, but she used to work extensively in the health, fitness, and nutrition industry as a Personal Trainer, Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner, an Aromatherapy Practitioner, and a Doula.
Maria has been learning about essential oils from various holistic teachers in the functional medicine/essential oils and herbs industry for many years. She also went through the certification process to become a Certified Integrated Essential Oil Aromatherapist, through Integrated Essential Oil Company. She trained in the Waterfall Technique with essential oils by Dr. Scott Johnson who is an expert in essential oils (EOs). He has written several books that might be beneficial.
Her coaching business is called Maria Spears Coaching Maria’s website for coaching is under construction but this is her landing page where you can schedule a free clarity coaching session. You can also find her on Instagram @MariaSpears and on Facebook too!
Also Maria’s link to some of her favorite Essential Oils is here.
Maria was gracious enough to share her knowledge with me, so I thought I would share it with you. Below are some questions I asked Maria and her answers regarding what the benefits are of essential oils.
Why Essential Oils?
QUESTION: How long have you personally been using essential oils?
ANSWER: For over 25 years. My mom is a Family Nurse Practitioner who got very involved in holistic health/essential oils/herbs, etc. and she works with herbalist, functional medical doctors, aromatherapists, etc.
QUESTION: What is your expertise? Are you a specialist or certified?
ANSWER: I went through the certification process to become an aromatherapist, as well as training for the waterfall technique. I ended up going a different route career-wise so I have not continued with keeping my certifications up, etc. so now I would be considered a ‘specialist’. I am also a doula and we learn how to use some of them to aid in labor/delivery.
QUESTION: What are essential oils? Where do they derive from?
ANSWER: Essential oils concentrated lipophilic (fat-soluble) aromatic extracts obtained from the seeds, bark, twigs, flowers, grasses, leaves, roots, berries, resins, nuts, and rinds of plants.
Benefits of Essential Oils
QUESTION: What are the benefits of essential oils?
1. They bring vitality and they defend: Unlike synthetic molecules that can mainly block certain body functions or kill microbes, essentially oils actually vitalize and restore health.
Essential oils can protect the body against germs, toxins, harmful pathogens, and disease at the cellular level.
2. Essential Oils lower body toxicity and can assist in helping the body to self-correct and heal itself: They have a really important and safe cleansing capability that respects the beneficial flora ecosystem of the body. Once in the body, essential oils travel to the tissues, cells, organs and various systems in our bodies that require them most to become healthy and restore normal function, balance and homeostasis
3. They allow a flow of energy and help the body to thrive: They allow for a free flow of energy throughout the body. They travel throughout the body, rapidly cleansing, repairing, balancing, and providing vitality where it is most needed.
In other words, they have incredible potential to perform many powerful functions in the body. They have been beneficial in providing health and relief from a disease for countless individuals throughout the centuries, simultaneously acting on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of a person’s well-being. Science has discovered that essential oils possess antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal, and antioxidant properties to varying degrees.
QUESTION: How long have essential oils been used for?
ANSWER: These aromatic extracts are one of the oldest therapies known. Depending on which texts you reference, the origin of aromatherapy lies within Egypt, China, or India. Each of these civilizations reportedly used plant essences thousands of years ago. Many historians and scholars give credit to the Egyptians based on the available evidence of hieroglyphics depicting the blending and use of aromatics in the Egyptian temples and traces of oils have been discovered in Egyptian tombs. Some texts indicate that they have been used as far back as 3000 BC!
QUESTION: How does one use essential oils?
ANSWER: The beneficial compounds in oils often are delivered in three ways: inhalation, using Aromatherapy Diffuser, topical application to the skin, and oral ingestion.
QUESTION: I’ve read essential oils are NOT to be ingested, that they are for topical use only, is this true?
ANSWER: That’s a bit of a loaded question. Certain essential oils you can, some you shouldn’t. But even if they are ones that you can, making sure you know the quality of the oil is massive. Most companies that carry essential oils, I personally wouldn’t ingest. Dr. Scott Johnson, an expert in this field says that while “oral administration of Essential Oil offers the benefits of more precise dosing, increased convenience, and good bioavailability. One needs to be mindful that oral administration has the potential to increase the risk of drug interactions and stomach irritation. However, these cautions can easily be managed with proper knowledge of evidence regarding medication and essential oil interactions and by taking your Essential Oils with food.” (Mastering Essential Oils: The integrative Essential Oil Certification Program, pg. 29)
So I would recommend talking with an aromatherapist about the specific needs for you and what you’re already on before ingesting any.
QUESTION: Are there any essential oils that you can ingest? What should one look for if you want to ingest them, i.e. in a beverage or in foods they eat?
ANSWER: I’m super hesitant to recommend ingesting essential oils without knowing where they are getting them from/what they’re using them for etc. Because if they don’t have high-quality essential oils they most definitely should not be ingested. Most of the essential oils you see in the stores these days are not pure and I wouldn’t dream of putting them in my body. I would actually be hesitant about putting them on my body too.
The company I recommend is called Zija (they are in the process of merging with Isagenix so they don’t have as many Essential Oil’s as they used to) But they have something called ‘Clinical Grade’ essential oils. So they have had a specific standard and lots of in-depth testing for them. Plant Therapy seems to be a good company from what I’ve seen as well. All of that to say if they are high quality, for cooking some of my favorite essential oils to use are Peppermint in a smoothie, lemon, or lime in guacamole if I don’t have a fresh fruit handy, lemongrass in an Asian soup.
QUESTION: How does one know if they are allergic to an essential oil? If so, what is recommended? Should they test it on a little area of their skin?
ANSWER: Sometimes people are allergic to essential oils, but won’t necessarily know ahead of time. The way to test is using the inside of the forearm, apply a couple of drops of the oil of choice cover with a bandaid. After 48 hours remove the band-aid and check for irritation.
QUESTION: What areas should you apply essential oils on topically? Are there any areas you should avoid putting essential oils on your body?
ANSWER: Great places to put essential oils are on the feet (we have pressure points on different areas of our bodies that correlate to our organs etc) back of the neck, behind the ears. Also depending on what’s going on health-wise you can put them on other places in your body. Without direct consultation from an aromatherapist/functional medicine doctor, I wouldn’t recommend putting them in the various orifices of your body. You never want to get an Essential Oil in your eyes!
QUESTION: Do you need to dilute essential oils before using them directly on your skin?
ANSWER: The majority of the time yes. If you are new to essential oils I would say always. Although if you have a burn or a bruise use lavender put on ‘neat’ (neat is a term meaning directly/non-diluted)
Types of Essential Oils
QUESTION: What are the top ten essential oils, and what are they used to help with?
ANSWER: Oh my goodness, there are so many good ones. The top 10 I always like to have on hand are below. I’m high-lighting SOME of the things they do; but I would encourage you to do your own research on them with books and the app I suggest. The reason is that I am touching on a few of the ways they can help you, but I am barely scratching the surface. There are so many other things they can be beneficial for. Also there is a lot of cross-over with them. Where one oil will help with multiple things and another oil may help with all of those things too by adding some additional oils to them.
1. Lavender – studies have shown it may be beneficial for burns, bruises, injuries, better sleep and may aid in relieving stress and anxiety
2. Frankincense – studies have shown that it may be beneficial for inflammation issues, improved immune system as well as improving the appearance of scars and wrinkles.
3. Peppermint – studies have shown Peppermint may be beneficial for nausea, headaches, digestive issues, fevers, sore muscles and increased energy along with many other things.
4. Tea Tree – some studies have shown that tea tree is a powerful antibacterial compound. It can be used for lice, antiseptic for minor scrapes and cuts, it may help get rid of fungus, to name a few.
5. Oregano – Some studies have shown that oregano may be beneficial as a analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal compound and might help with skin conditions, bug bites, dandruff and many other things.
6. Eucalyptus – Some studies have shown it may be therapeutic as a decongestant, balancing blood-sugar levels, supporting normal respiration and easing coughs.
7. Roman Chamomile – may be therapeutic in aiding with calming, reducing anxiety, combating worrisome thoughts, colic and relieving painful menstruation.
8. Lemon – may be a good cooking addition, studies have shown it may aid in pain relief, immune support, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes, nourishing to the hair, may relieve nausea and vomiting and many other things.
9. Orange – may be beneficial as a disinfectant, aid in digestion, supporting lymph drainage, reducing anxiety.
10. Rosemary – a few of the reported therapeutic benefits of this oil is that it may aid in stopping excess bleeding, stimulate hair growth, support liver function, relieve migraines, stimulate gallbladder function and act as an insect repellent.
NOTE: There are also some excellent blends various companies have that are good.
Health Benefits of Essential Oils
QUESTION: Are there any proven health benefits to using essential oils? If so what are they?
ANSWER: There are so many proven health benefits to using essential oils. From a personal perspective, it was a combination of both essential oils and some herbs that prevented my brother from having to have his leg amputated due to a massive infection that no medication was fixing. Two of the best resources for proven health benefits ‘Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy‘ and ‘Mastering Essential Oils: The Integrative Essential Oil Certification Program.’ It has a lot of the science behind essential oils as well as explaining all the different health benefits; everything from helping with aches and pains, inflammation, immune system, organs support, burns, and bruises help, and I could go on and on.
QUESTION: During stressful times such as these that we are now experiencing globally, do you recommend using essential oils on a daily basis?
ANSWER: Absolutely. They can really be beneficial for stress release, better sleep, boosting immune function, etc.
QUESTION: Which essential oil do you suggest using daily for a good night’s sleep?
ANSWER: Lavender, Chamomile and Vetiver
QUESTION: I’ve heard that the following essential oils can help with stress and anxiety: Rose, lavender, and camomile. Is this true?
Are there any others you suggest? How often and how do you suggest using these?
ANSWER: Those are all great ones. I would add in there Peppermint, Vetiver, Frankincense, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, and Ylang-Ylang…there are several others, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with the options. Even just Lavender and Roman Chamomile and Peppermint are a great starting point.
QUESTION: Are there any essential oils you suggest for digestive issues?
ANSWER: Peppermint, Ginger, Lavender, Sweet Basil and Cinnamon to name a few.
QUESTION: Are there any essential oils you suggest for inflammation?
ANSWER: There are so many good ones! Some of my favorite essential oils for inflammation are Copaiba, Turmeric, Thyme, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Lemongrass.
QUESTION: What does Peppermint do for you? Someone mentioned to me to put Peppermint essential oil on socks or gardening shoes when gardening because it will chase away ants and other bugs, is this true?
ANSWER: Peppermint Oil is used for various remedies. But to answer your question regarding bugs, yes. A few other essential oils that are beneficial for keeping insects away are tea tree, citronella, and lemongrass. You can put 4 or 5 drops of Peppermint, Tea Tree, Citronella, or Lemongrass in a cup of water, put it in a spray bottle, and spray on yourself which will help keep insects away. In the house, you can put Peppermint diluted in water and spray in areas you’re having issues with ants being there. Other good essential oils for insect repellent are Eucalyptus and Anise Basil.
Where to Buy Essential Oils
QUESTION: There are so many choices of brands and companies to purchase essential oils from, what should one look for when looking to purchase some and to get the purest oils?
ANSWER: There are so many brands and companies out there, it can be very challenging to know which place to trust. There is not a simple answer to this unfortunately.
A couple of things to know about Essential Oil companies is just because it says they are ‘therapeutic grade’ or ‘pure’ doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Those can be clever marketing tools. As of right now, there are only ‘internal standards’ for essential Oil ’s, meaning inside each specific company. There is not an overarching governing standard for them. For oil to actually be ‘pure’ there should be no synthetic components at all. It should be extracted according to medicinal, clinical, and scientific standards. Not just fragrance and flavor standards.
A couple of trusted sources for people in the Essential Oil industry are Dr. Penoel (he is a medical doctor who has been working in the aromatherapy industry since 1977 and is a wealth of knowledge. He also has some great books!) Dr. Scott Johnson is a great source as well.
Dr. Penoel says you want to consider these 3 things when looking at Essential Oil companies:
- The sourcing standard: soil, botany, organic certification, climate, harvest, distillation practices, and handling procedures.
- The Chemistry Standard: Gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer. This GCMS testing is important, as well as making sure there are no heavy metals, pesticide residues or foreign substances that don’t belong in the oil
- Full Disclosure Standard: The company should be willing to disclose the GCMS chart and purity certifications for each batch of oils.
There are some other recommendations for things to look at, but starting there is a good place.
QUESTION: I am not an experienced user of essential oils, yet I use a few. I like using lavender essential oil on my wool dryer balls instead of using fabric softener is that a good oil to use? Do you suggest any others for a fresh scent that makes you feel relaxed or fresh all day?
ANSWER: I would recommend putting the dryer balls in a sock so the oils don’t stain your clothes! Other good scents, I love orange, grapefruit, and cinnamon personally. But it really is a preference thing! I love diffusing orange and cinnamon together! It smells delicious!
Can Children and Pregnant Women Use Essential Oils?
QUESTION: Can you use essential oils while pregnant?
ANSWER: Some you can, some you can’t.
The ones you most definitely should not use are: Aniseed, Angelica, Basil, Black pepper, Camphor, Cinnamon, Chamomile, Clary Sage (often used during labor by midwives safely), Clove, Fennel, Fir, Ginger, Horseradish, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Mustard, Mugwort, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Wintergreen. But I would recommend talking with your midwife or doctor before using any.
QUESTION: What about Essential Oils for children or babies?
ANSWER: I wouldn’t recommend using essential oils internally for children or babies. Nor should they be used undiluted on the skin. It’s also best that they are diluted more than they are for adult application and care should be taken with any essential oils considered “hot” as they may cause damage to the skin.
In general, oils like Lavender, Chamomile, Orange, Lemon, and Frankincense are considered safe for diluted use on children, but I would personally still do a skin test and check with a doctor first, before using essential oil on babies, children and yourself.
Certain Essential Oil’s, like Peppermint, Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Wintergreen should not be used around young children or babies. These herbs contain menthol and 1,8-cineole. These compounds can slow breathing (or even stop it completely) in very young children or those with respiratory problems. Of course, they should never be used internally or undiluted on the skin for children, but these particular oils warrant caution even for aromatic use.
One other thing that needs to be mentioned is that essential oils should never be stored in plastic containers, especially in concentrated forms. There are many essential oils that can eat through plastics when undiluted, and even when diluted, they can degrade plastics over time.
QUESTION: Are there other things we should know about essential oil use that would be helpful?
ANSWER: Make sure you don’t put citrus oils on your body before going out into the sun as it can make you burn! Avoid lemon, orange, grapefruit, etc. before going outside. Also make sure anytime you use ‘hot’ oils (hot oils being Cinnamon, Clove, Lemongrass, Oregano, Thyme), that you dilute them really well! A little bit goes a long way with essential oils.
All of this to say essential oils are amazing and powerful tools. But it is vitally important that you do use them with caution and knowledge. I would recommend getting a book on them. Anything by Dr. Peneol. He has a great app you can use on your phone called “IEO” (Integrated Essential Oils) where you can actually look up your symptoms and it will have recommendations for what oils to use based on clinical studies. Dr. Scott Johnson has some great resources as well.
As always, check with your health care professional before utilizing these recommendations.
Using Essential Oils and Mindfulness are ways to benefit your health. Let me know if you use Essential Oils and what are a few of your favorites.