Are You Tired Of Being Confused By Conflicting Information? Do You Want Tools To Help You Make Sense Of It All? Are You Sick Of Getting Answers That Just Tell You WHAT To Think Instead Of Giving You The How And Why Behind The Answers? Are You Looking To Build Your Own Personal Knowledge Rather Than Constantly Having To Rely On An “Expert” To Tell You What To Think?
Many of you have been asking about my story / background in essential oils, and how I got started using and teaching about them, and why, in this world full of books and classes would I decided to write and teach? So here is my story, or at least what I can share in a format like this without taking up 10 pages.
My journey really began when I was quite young. I grew up plagued with various health issues, but my parents didn’t ever take my health problems seriously, and also didn’t believe in going to the doctor unless you had a broken bone or something immediately life threatening. So from the time I was very young, I was on a search to self medicate with whatever I could find or learn about. Looking back I realize how dangerous this could have been for a little kid, but thankfully I never did anything stupid (or at least too stupid), looking for relief from my chronic pain as a child.
But the real story begins about 15 years ago when I started a nursery with over 50 varieties of hard-to-find herbs and began growing and distributing plants to all the local nurseries in our area at the time. I expanded my knowledge of herbs by devouring books, taking classes and courses in herbalism, survivalism, wildcrafting herbs, etc. These courses and classes helped me learn about the different herbs, their properties, how to use them, make tinctures, teas, poultices, etc. My love of herbs is still very strong to this day, and I still use the actual herbs more than essential oils because I love them and believe in them so much!
While I used essential oils off and on for many years, I became exceptionally fascinated with them after my love of herbs kicked in and also once I began working with skin care products a lot. Using herbs in creams and lotions was my passion, but many times this caused the cream or lotion to have a very short shelf life. So essential oils fit in perfectly; not only did they not shorten the shelf life of my products, but in many cases they actually extended them. I became very involved in developing skin care products after my mom was diagnosed with a very rare form of breast and bone cancer. She, of course, wanted to avoid any chemicals in her skin care but found that many so-called “natural” skin care products were in fact not very natural at all! On top of this, when we were able to find truly natural products, they were often extremely expensive. Now these products are much more available, but 15 years ago they were MUCH harder to find, at least here in northern Idaho without an internet connection available. Since I had always been fascinated with chemistry and how things reacted and worked together, I decided I would just make her a line of skin care products myself. However, as many of you have probably found if you have ever tried to find recipes for lotions, butters, liquid soaps, etc., there is (especially 15 years ago) a sad lack in this area. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of “recipes” out there, but they look/feel/smell nothing like what you buy in the store. And perhaps the biggest problem is many of them won’t last unless you keep them in the fridge. A recipe promises a “lotion” but in fact is nothing close to a lotion, actually resembling a soft lip balm or salve. Or, even worse, is simply a mixture of other pre-made ingredients, like mayo, fels-naptha, liquid soap, or other pre-made ingredients. This made me FURIOUS! Why were people claiming to know all about skin care and were calling themselves “experts”, but were sharing recipes that were missing ingredients, didn’t work at all, molded in a few days, required other pre-made products, or produced a finished product that wasn’t even close to what the title of the recipe promised?
So, my mad scientist genes kicked in. My great-grandmother had formulated a hand cream that she sold for years, then she sold the formula to a manufacturer and it is now sold in Wal Mart! So I figured if she could do it, so could I! And countless hours and tons of failed batches, ruined ingredients and sleepless nights later, I had developed a whole line of products I could be proud of, that did not contain chemicals or preservatives, and looked and felt like something you could buy in the store, and in fact did sell in stores, as well as online and were shipped all over the country, and in several other countries as well. Since then, I’ve been blessed to work with hundreds of people with specific skin issues and been able to formulate products around their sensitivities, as well as being asked by Dr. Eckhart to formulate a line of products especially for his patients that contained no chemical estrogens or phytoestrogens. I have also been asked many times to duplicate the smell of a skin care product that is someone’s favorite, but the company quit making it and they can’t bear to live without it, or take a product that was a favorite but full of chemicals and formulate a natural alternative that they can love. And I do love a good challenge!
Working with herbs BEFORE working with essential oils, I feel, is a big advantage. Knowing the plant, what it does, and what its uses and cautions are before working with the highly concentrated essential oils has helped me have a more rounded perspective than I otherwise would. Many people have an overly flippant use of essential oils because they can’t imagine how a drop of something could possibly be harmful. But when you have a knowledge of the plant and how it is used, you are able to put into perspective how 24 cups of an herbal tea (which is what 1 drop of peppermint is equal to) could cause possible harm depending on the herb in question. This also works the opposite way as well. Some people who learn about essential oils first, develop a fear of the actual plant because they know how a particular oil can be toxic. But many times, the plant itself is quite harmless and would have to be consumed in huge quantities to have any ill effects at all. So broadening your herbal education can be very helpful if you want to learn more about essential oils.
But back to my experiences with essential oils. I have studied and used them for myself, the two kids I have raised / am raising, and many other people struggling with skin issues in particular, but also pain, anxiety, and many other illnesses. In addition to 15 years of experience working with herbs and essential oils, as well as being a certified aromatherapist, I am also currently completing my C.C.M.A. certification which is a Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist course from the International Certified Aromatherapy Institute, which is an N.A.H.A level 2 recognized program. This program is for those who are practicing aromatherapy professionally. It includes an average of 675 hours of study, therapeutic case studies, fragrance case studies, and a large research paper. In involves detailed chemistry of oils, molecular structures, detailed information about different distillation practices, therapeutic uses, and safety protocols among other things. I felt it important to mention the exact program and what is involved because many people throw out pieces of paper they call “certifications” that don’t actually mean anything other than a few hours spent attending a class somewhere. I want you to know I am putting large amounts of my time, money, and energy into bringing you the best quality information on essential oils and herbs that I possibly can. I am not just a stagnant pool of information that is still drawing on what I learned 15 years ago but am constantly working to improve my own education and experience so I have up to date, good research and information to share with you. I am also currently completing an animal course for aromatherapy that goes over some of the special concerns that come with using aromatherapy for pets and livestocks. I have a bit of a different take than many people do on essential oils. Some of this comes from my experience, some comes from my research. So I don’t promise to always agree with everything you have “heard” regarding oils. But what I can promise is I will do my best to explain to you exactly WHY I believe what I do regarding oils, and WHY I recommend what I do. I am always open to questions, and if I don’t have the answers, I have access to a lot of information so there is a good chance I can find out for you or point you to someone else who can.
My main frustration with essential oils over the years has been the lack of good solid information you can find out there. There are lots of people spouting their opinions and ideas, or what worked for them, or what they heard worked for someone else. But when you really start digging, it’s very hard to find real solid answers for WHY we do or don’t do things in aromatherapy. For example, you will be able to find many lists of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy, but trying to find exact scientific reasons for WHY each of those oils should be avoided is a whole different story. I’m not saying the information is not out there, it absolutely is! I’m saying it is alarmingly hard to find, specifically in an easy-to-understand format. And this, in my opinion, is one of the biggest reasons for all the misinformation that is out there today. People just do what they are told without knowing the scientific reason behind it, and when they do try to find the reason behind it, they end up hitting a wall, or uncovering a scientific paper that they aren’t able to understand and this discourages them from further research. And people that are supposed to be “world leaders” in this field, promote blind loyalty by simply telling people what to do without explaining why, and how things work. And not fluffy terms, but actual facts and science behind what essential oils do.
I am not suggesting that you as an individual need to know all the chemical components of an oil and the reason behind all their uses or cautions. But what I AM saying is you should be able to find out if you want to! And if you ask someone what to do, they should be able to tell you the reason for what they are recommending, not just quote whoever their favorite expert of the day may be, or cite that they have “never had a problem” using an oil this or that way.
I got asked the other day by a friend if the pretty blue glass bottles protect the essential oil from light, or if the brown ones are better, or if it mattered at all. I could have just said “yes it does matter, use the amber ones.” but in my opinion, this just promotes loyalty without actual knowledge. So, (in case you are wondering) my answer was “Yes it matters, because essential oils deteriorate the fastest when exposed to the blue spectrum of light. While pretty, the blue, green, and purple glass bottles do not filter out this spectrum of light as well as the amber bottles. So, if you are storing your oils in a dark place, it doesn’t really matter, as long as the bottles are glass. But if they are going to be sitting out on your night stand, or on the counter, or exposed to light at all, it is best to go with amber.” So now, if someone asks my friend why she doesn’t use the blue bottles, she can respond with the actual answer instead of just “well Ashley said they aren’t as good as the brown ones.”
Or another example: Someone was asking about using certain essential oils during her pregnancy. She had read that this particular oil was not “safe” to use when you were pregnant and was asking my opinion. I could have answered “it’s ok to use, go ahead,” but then she would have had no information except my word to go on. My answer was “The reason that oil is generally not recommended during pregnancy is because it can act as a stimulant and is thought to possibly cause uterine contractions. However, since you are already past your due date, it is completely safe to use, because it will not harm you or the baby and any stimulation to your uterus it might cause would, at the WORST, cause you to go into labor, which you will be doing any minute anyway!” But if I hadn’t explained the reason behind the oil not being recommended during early pregnancy, she could have thought, or rather continued to think, this oil might harm her or the baby and that is why it is not recommended during early pregnancy.
Or another example, which is not important as far as safety, but illustrates the frustration that can come when you can’t find the information you need. A lady was asking on an online forum the other day what the difference was between orifice reducers, and euro droppers. She got multiple answers from people telling her they were the exact same thing. They were both orifice reducers, so it didn’t matter which one she used. Even looking at the websites that sold these two different types of reducers was no help as they don’t explain the difference either! This gal persisted on the online forum, asking why they had different names and looked different if they were exactly the same? Several people responded again with the “they are the same thing” comment, and she started feeling frustrated, and my guess would be a little stupid as well! I could feel her frustration, so I jumped into the middle to try to offer an explination—”while they are both orifice reducers, one is a simple plastic insert that reduces the diameter of the bottle, while the other (the euro dropper) reduces the diameter of the bottle, but also has a plastic “stem” underneath which is a vent and makes it much easier to get drops out of your bottle than standard orifice reducer. Standard orifice reducers tend to create an “air lock” in the bottle which makes it very hard to get any oil out unless you use a pipette. So, if you plan to use a pipette, the standard reducers are the best choice, but if you want to be able to get drops directly from the bottle, a euro dropper is the best.” Now she understands the difference and can make an educated choice on what she ordered based on what her goal was!
Am I making myself clear here? These are just simple little examples, but they illustrate my point. I write all this to say, my passion is helping people UNDERSTAND everything to do with oils and how to use them. My goals for my classes, blogs, Facebook pages, and website is to turn the tide of the blind leading the blind and help people truly have a grasp of why they do or don’t do things and how these oils actually work together with our bodies. My goal is to help you find the answers YOU NEED, not just to be another expert that will tell you what to do. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE helping people and answering questions, and if you are stumped and need help with a recommendation I am happy to help you in any way that I can. But you may receive a longer-winded answer to your question than you expected! (as many of you who have already emailed me with questions have found out!)
So friends, that’s my story, my passion, and my goal. Education, pure and simple. Not promoting fear of using oils, but also not promoting that all natural substances are safe and harmless. My goal is taking the research on essential oils, which is primarily composed of scientific papers and articles that are very hard to read, and make the information they contain and explain easy to read and understand, and accessible to beginners and more advanced users alike, not just reserved for those who have a passion for research. At some point if you stick with me on this journey long enough, I will probably contradict a lot of what you have been told, but I will also explain why and do my best to equip you with the information you need to determine what is best for you and your family. So if you are sick and tired of being confused by contradicting experts, and friends and family who recommendations are exact opposites, begin the journey with me to finding out WHY, not just WHAT. You’ll never regret it!
I am so beyond excited at the chance to partner with all of you on your journey to a more natural lifestyle and better health.
Many blessings to you all!
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