A Skeptic’s Venture Into Essential Oils


Readers know I straddle the line between crunchy green mom and conventional parent. My green colleagues and I chat endlessly about organic tampons and whether to scrub out peanut butter jars so they can be recycled. But when the conversation turns to essential oils I pretty much tune out.

It probably doesn’t help the well-meaning essential oil consultants that a few have gone around professing that their oils can cure Ebola, inciting an FDA crackdown. But when it comes to sinus congestion, back pain, or even a great stain remover, I am perfectly open to exploring unconventional methods.

I finally decided to see what all the hype was about and entrusted my friend Stephanie with Good Girl Gone Green for a personalized tutorial and test drive.

She sent me a variety of pure essential oils (plant-derived extracts) as well as some custom-blends meant for specific uses.

I started with a simple and incontrovertible use – making things smell good. I had been meaning to add essential oils to my dryer balls for a while, and Stephanie recommended Purification, a blend of oils including citronella, lemongrass, tea tree, and rosemary. It made a big difference in my laundry and having a truly natural pleasant scent really is uplifting. It was also an easy fix to put a few dabs on cotton balls to place in diaper bins and rooms that get stale when sealed up for the winter.

Stephanie also had me mix a few drops of thieves oil in a spritzer with witch hazel and water to use as a disinfectant. I sprayed this on the kids’ toys, the remote, the phones – everything that desperately needed it since the kids’ noses haven’t stopped running since October.

The medicinal uses were trial and error, with nothing but some very loose anecdotal evidence to share.

When I came home from Thanksgiving dinner of course my belly was a bit sore. And randomly my asthma had been acting up. Before bed I applied Digize to my belly and a prescribed blend of raven, copaiba, and dorado azul  to my chest. To be perfectly honest, I had no expectation beyond my husband yelling at me that I smelled like a hippie. But I have to say, my symptoms began to feel better with no additional medication. This could have been coincidence or maybe the oils really worked some magic!

But it wasn’t always immediate success. I put a few drops of thieves and oregano on my husband’s chest to try to alleviate a hacking cough that was possibly bothering me more than it was bothering him. His cough did not subside but it was also possible that either one dose was not enough or I had used the entirely wrong oils.

A couple days later I had a massage appointment at a decidedly non-eco spa (I had a Groupon.) When I saw the two-gallon vat of generic “massage oil” he had by the table I was glad I had brought my own blend of avocado oil and Pan Away, a pain remedy with wintergreen, clove, and peppermint. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

But the most remarkable use I found was for my occasional – but wicked – sinus pain. I put peppermint on my temples and it truly made a difference almost immediately.

Please let me know what your experience is. Did you find any miracle cures? A great way to tackle dirty floors? A scent to keep away creepy dudes on the subway? Please share!

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is based only on my own research and personal experience. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. 

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