In the beginning
If you're like me, and like a good deal of people, you suffer from seasonal allergies. Truthfully, I didn't have any noticeable allergies until nearly eight years ago. But it seemed like, by the time our son was two, they were bothering me more and more. About three years ago, I even went so far as to get allergy testing done. I did not have a major reaction to anything, but a mild reaction to a lot of things. I started allergy shots and after five or six months of them, saw no results. I know that you're supposed to take them longer than that, but we then moved and I would have had to start all over again anyway.
By the time we changed locations almost two years ago, I was miserable. In the fall and winter, I had sinus infection after sinus infection. I remember having to take three rounds of antibiotics between the beginning of November 2011 and February 2012.
Enough is enough!
After trying allergy shots with no relief, I decided I had to do something. I really didn't want to start back up with allergy shots again once we moved and I wasn't convinced they would help me anyway. I was feeling desperate. I started doing some research into essential oils and figured that it certainly couldn't hurt to try.
That next winter, every time I started getting sinus pain or a sinus infection, I would put peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus oil (just a drop each) into a bowl of water and breathe in the steam for 30 seconds. I did this several times a day until I didn't feel like I was on the verge of a sinus infection anymore. I was amazed. I did not have a single sinus infection all winter and when I had a cold and did this, I was so much more comfortable.
Expanding essential oil use
I was still having bad allergy symptoms that at least twice a week would develop into a headache that only a Coke and migraine medicine could ease - and even that didn't always work. I also took an over-the-counter allergy medication every day. Impressed with my experience using essential oils when I was on the verge of a sinus infection or sick, I began to look into it to see what could be done to lessen seasonal allergies in general. This is what ultimately led to my obsession with essential oils.
Recipe for success
I found a lot of suggestions for different oils that could help ease allergy symptoms. At some point in my search, I ran into a blog post by Baldwin's Girl that contained an actual recipe to try to relieve allergy symptoms. This was exactly what I was looking for!
Allergy Relief - That Sneezin' Season from Baldwin's Girl
10 drops eucalyptus
10 drops lavender
5 drops cedarwood
5 drops peppermint
3 drops helichrysum
I did not have helichrysum for quite some time, but I did mix up this recipe without it and began to use it. I first bought a necklace made of clay that could absorb the oils into it so that I could wear it around my neck and breathe those oils in all day long.
Later, I upgraded to a locket-style necklace that has a cotton pad in it that I can add a couple drops of the oil blend. I found that this worked so much better and the smell lasted much longer as well. I also added helichrysum to the mix.
I have been using this recipe for almost a year now and I have had great results. Am I absolutely allergy symptom free? Of course not. For example, we've had rain off and on the last five days and my allergies have kicked up a lot. I'm stuffy and uncomfortable. But I know I would be feeling much, much worse if I weren't using the oils. I can also say that, in the last year, I have to take migraine medication once or twice a month as opposed to consistently needing it 2-3 times a week before. A huge improvement in my book. I did have one sinus infection this last winter, but one in two years is a whole lot better than 2-4 every winter.
When I do get bad sinus headaches, I roll some Relieve Me (50% oil, 50% carrier oil) on my temple or the back of my neck. I also have used an unscented, all natural lotion and added some peppermint, lavender and spearmint oils to it and will rub that in as well. They definitely help.
I wish I could get rid of my allergy symptoms completely, but compared to where I was a year ago, I feel like essential oils have been a miracle in my life.
If you've tried just about everything to lessen your allergy symptoms and you're still feeling miserable all the time, you might want to give essential oils a try!
Remember, do your research on all essential oils before you start using them. Most essential oils must be diluted (I do not dilute the allergy relief recipe, but it also doesn't touch my skin) and some oils that might be okay for adults are not okay for kids, etc. Definitely educate yourself about oils before you just jump in and use them! There are a lot of great resources online and people you can ask for help or advice as well.
When it comes to essential oils, what camp do you fall into?
I am personally a huge fan of essential oils. Not only do many of them smell good, but I have also found them to be incredibly useful. Is it a hobby or an addiction for me? Probably a bit of both.
What brand of oils is best?
I remember when I first started researching essential oils. It was incredibly overwhelming. There are the two main brands that battle each other and numerous other brands of oils out there that you can find in health food stores, online, and some even in grocery stores. So which brand is best? I really don't think that you can point to one brand and say it's better than any other.
Recently, The Humbled Homemaker put out a blog post about this very thing. There's no way I could state this better than she did, so I definitely recommend you go and take a look at it.
The Grace-Filled Answer to the Essential Oil Wars
I can tell you that I have a wide variety of brands and types of essential oils in my collection. My favorite brand of essential oils is Rocky Mountain Oils. If I can buy an oil from them, I will. But it's not always possible. If I have a choice, I will almost always choose an oil that is produced here in the United States. So that can determine where I purchase my oils (for example, I always buy my lavender from Liberty Natural because they distill it from their own lavender fields in Oregon). I guess what I'm trying to say is, get what you feel is right for you and your family.
How do I keep them organized?
I have a larger, padded container that I keep my oils in (and yes, I alphabetize them because that's the way I am lol). I buy my oils in 15 ml bottles and I store them in within that padded bag in a cool, dark place. I also carry some with me everywhere I go. For that, I finally found the perfect solution: A custom bag from Our Happy Healthy Home. I just received this bag last week and I'm already loving it. But there are a lot of other options out there if you're looking for something smaller, less expensive, or just in a different style. I started small, carrying five kinds of oils with me, and I have upgraded three times to this OHHH bag.
Do we have to hear the obligatory caution statement?
YES! Before I go any further, I want to remind you that not all essential oils are the same. Some are safe to use on children, others are not. Some are safe for a pregnant woman to use, others can cause problems. There are some essential oils that you can apply neat (undiluted) and others that you cannot because they can cause skin reactions. The point of all of this? Do your research! If you decide to get into essential oils, find yourself a good book and keep that handy for reference. Learn everything you can about each oil in your collection. Double check the use for that oil before you apply it to yourself or anyone else. Would you just grab a medication off the shelf and give it to your child without first reading the cautions on the back? Of course not! Essential oils are no different. Educate yourself about them before you start using them. Alright, now that we've covered that, on we go!
What oils do I carry?
Okay, so right now, I carry a lot of oils with me. Seriously. In addition to essential oils, I carry a well-stocked first aid kit with me in my car. I may have to do a blog post about that one in the future as well.
Rollers: Most if not all of these are half essential oil and half almond oil
Relieve Me: This is a blend from Rocky Mountain Oils that I just love. I use it for muscle cramps and aches and also for really bad sinus headaches.
Geranium: I love the smell so it's like my perfume.
Lavender/Chamomile: I bring this to put on bug bites, burns, scrapes, etc.
Peaceful Child: This is a blend we've used on our son who has autism. It has been wonderful, helping him relax and focus when he's overwhelmed. I don't go anywhere without this.
Immunity: Another blend from RMO. During cold and flu season, we put some of this on the bottoms of everyone's feet before going out in public.
15 ml bottles
Lavender - I use this for so many things and don't go anywhere without it.
Allergy Mix - I have a diffusing necklace that I wear when I'm having issues with seasonal allergies. I will do a blog post about this mix here in the next few days.
Purification: Another great blend from RMO. This is great to spray both as an air freshener and also to help clean the air around you. I've been known to use this on chairs in a doctors office before.
2 ml bottles: Unless mentioned, these contain 5 drops of an essential oil and the rest almond oil. There are a lot of uses for all of these so I'm not going to go into all of that. I just want to show you which I carry with me. Those that are full strength are mostly kept that way because I get a lot of sinus pain and I like to use these full strength to breathe in. I don't recommend applying most oils to the skin without first diluting them.
Eucalyptus (full strength)
Tea Tree (full strength)
Peppermint (full strength) - helpful for headaches
Rosemary (full strength)
Vetiver (the main ingredient in the Peaceful Child blend I use)
I also have a small bottle of Grapeseed oil in case I do need to dilute something on the fly and a 2 ml bottle of arrowroot powder.
There we go! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If nothing else, I can at least direct you to a site or book that might be able to give you some answers.
Essential oils are a lot of fun, incredibly useful, and yes - addicting!