Sarah Bearden (former Marin County WAPF chapter leader and nutritionist of Roots To Health) was trained as an aromatherapist in England. She raised her children using essential oils and natural remedies.
Essential oils come from from the flowers, roots, bark and leaves of a plant. There are aromatic cells in the plant that are broken open by steam distillation and extracted. Essential oils are very highly concentrated. The constituents of the oils get into the blood stream if applied on the skin and if inhaled. Internal use of essential oils is done effectively often in France but it must be done with a qualified practitioner because they can have powerful effects on the body. When using these oils on babies, it’s much safer to diffuse the gentle oils into the room or use the hydrosol instead.
Sarah says that essential oils can be used in a very scientific way, such as looking at the chemical constituents of an oil to determine what it would be therapeutic for. Or on the other end of the spectrum, they can be used in ritual or in spiritual ways.
Sarah passed around lavender for us to sniff, specifically lavandula angustifolia. This particular lavender has a sedative and calming effect. She said that other lavender species can have the opposite effect! Lavender is also known for it’s healing effects on skin burns.
She told the story when her son was 3 or 4 he was having difficulty sleeping. He would wake up frequently with bad dreams. One night she put one drop of lavender on his pillow and he slept through the night without difficulty! No bad dreams.
One caution for using essential oils is to almost always dilute them in carrier oils such as coconut oil, avocado oil or full fat milk before putting them on the skin or in the bath. They are super concentrated and after repeated use can cause a sensitivity reaction to the specific oil.
One way to help determine the essential oils are from real plants and not chemically made is to make sure the Latin name is listed on the bottle. This tells you what species of plant it is. Another way is to call the company and ask for the GCMS report (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) which is a third party report of the constituents of the oils. Thsi report can help to uncover any potential adulteration. Essential oils have a half-life, too, so if you have some old essential oils Sarah suggested using them in homemade cleaning products rather than on the body. Some brands she trusts are Aromatics International, Stillpoint Aromatics and Nature’s Gift.
We had a lovely gathering of about 20 people chatting excitedly. The snacks were delicious, especially the chicken liver pate, the guacamole, the kraut and sodas and the sweet treats. We always have the best food! And thanks to Joy Ericksen we got to meet in the wonderfully homey fireside room of the Trinity Community Church.
By Karen Hamilton-Roth