Monday, February 24, 2014

Oil boom: Essentials and health + wellness {Guest post}

In the nearly four years I've been blogging at Healthy Strides, the posts have been almost entirely written by me save for the few times Mark has done guest writing and the one time Miles "did" a race recap.

But today that changes.

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I'd like you to meet Sara Darwin. Sara was born in Missouri, grew up in Northern Indiana, and now lives with her husband and young son just outside Vancouver in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. She loves to climb, kayak, cross country ski, and loves living near the ocean and the mountains, though a part of her heart will always be in the Midwest. She and her husband, Walden, run an outdoor education business called Wilderness Adventure Outreach, and Sara also volunteers as a peer support counselor for those recovering from birth trauma.

Sara, a long-time reader, first contacted me about trying a product - doTERRA essential oils for which she is a consultant. I had never heard of using essential oils beyond the burner I bought 10 years ago at The Body Shop - much less the company. I started reading, though, and the more I started reading, the more I was interested. It wasn't just anecdotal evidence about the benefits of oils but scientific studies related to runners. Rather than doing a quickie review just to score some free stuff, I thought it could be helpful for Sara to share the health and athletic benefits of oils.

Take it away!


I was first introduced to essential oils eight years ago when a friend suggested I try Oil of Oregano for my frequent respiratory and sinus infections. It worked, and significantly reduced the amount of times I needed antibiotics. A few years later, I began using essential oils to make my cleaning and personal care products, but I didn’t think of them as plant medicine, because they were clearly labeled as "not for internal use." It wasn’t until a friend of mine introduced me to doTERRA that I realized there was so much more that essential oils could do for my family. 

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What are essential oils?
An essential oil is the volatile aromatic compound found in plants. It is extracted through steam distillation or cold pressing, and the resulting essential oil contains powerful chemical constituents that can be used to bring balance and healing to the human body. Its molecules are so small that it can penetrate cells, and some essential oils have been proven to pass the blood-brain barrier. Essential oils have been shown to be effective against viruses and bacteria, and have even been shown to be effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria, including MRSA.

doTERRA essential oils are unique in purity, sourcing, sustainability, and testing practices. They are graded for internal use, and when used properly are safe for aromatic, topical and internal use.

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Using the oils
Just like a lot of people, we used things like pain relievers, antibiotic ointment, allergy medicines and OTC’s for stomach and heartburn relief. But before long, it had been months since we had used any of those, and we had even managed to reduce our need for antibiotics and doctor visits. Ear and sinus infections, sore throats, seasonal allergies, tummy bugs, aches and pains, and cuts and blisters were now cared for with essential oils, and they were as effective as the medicines we had been buying. In fact, the essential oils worked faster and didn’t have any unpleasant side effects, so we found them to be more effective for both the adults and children. If I’m really honest, I was even able to use doTERRA essential oils to support my emotional and mental health, which included struggles with issues of focus and depression. 




But what about runners and other athletes? 
I talked with a few of my friends who are athletes and use doTERRA essential oils, and they reported them to be very useful. What they had to say made me want to lace up my shoes and give their ideas a try. In fact, we did use some of their ideas for my husband when he returned from leading a bunch of students on a mountaineering trip, and the eos worked just like they said they would. 

Here are some of the tips my running friends gave me to share with you: 
  • Peppermint and a blend called Breathe help increase oxygen levels, and Peppermint helps with energy. One marathon runner told me he takes a drop of Peppermint under his tongue every 30 minutes on his long runs. [From Kim: A study published in the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that The oil improved exercise performance, respiratory function, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory gas exchange. It also reduced resting blood pressure and heart rate.]
  • Citrus oils such as Lemon, Lime, Wild Orange, Bergamot and a blend called Citrus Bliss helped another runner conquer the mind block of, “I can’t do this.” Putting a drop of a citrus oil in your hand and inhaling deeply while cupping your hands over mouth and nose invigorates and stimulates you physically and mentally. It’s a great one to use on days when it’s tempting to hit the snooze button instead of the pavement. 
  • For recovery after a run, Lemongrass was the number one suggested essential oil as a powerhouse when it comes to cartilage and muscle repair. In fact, it’s even prescribed by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Paul Winterton for his patients after knee replacement surgery. 
  • Frankincense is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and is a favorite for helping heal from inflammation of the joints. 
  • Other oils like Birch, Cypress, White Fir and a blend called Deep Blue were also highly recommended for cartilage and muscle recovery. One runner shared that he regularly rubs a combination of those onto his achilles tendons after running. 

If this information intrigues you and you’d like to learn more about how to use essential oils, you may contact me through my website, and I will be happy to provide further information. Using these powerful plant medicines safely and effectively is important to me, and I am committed to helping others learn how to use essential oils properly.

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