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Essential Oils for Holistic Healing

By Rachel Brady

The scent of lavender has always been something I’ve loved. When I was 13 I made a piece of art to illustrate all of my favourite things. Alongside artistic representations of guitar bands and a cherry lip gloss, I included a drawing of lavender! Something about essential oils I have always found slightly beyond words. The scent powerfully interacts with your cells in a very different way to say, a perfume. It’s not just about a nice smell; you feel a shift happening.

The scent of lavender has always been something I’ve loved. When I was 13 I made a piece of art to illustrate all of my favourite things. Alongside artistic representations of guitar bands and a cherry lip gloss, I included a drawing of lavender! Something about essential oils I have always found slightly beyond words. The scent powerfully interacts with your cells in a very different way to say, a perfume. It’s not just about a nice smell; you feel a shift happening.

Essential Oils came into my life properly a few years ago. I was depressed, and I’d shared this on social media. An online friend sent me 3 small bottles of essential oils. They immediately made a positive impact on me. Did they cure me? No, of course not, but there was a lift, an immediate deep relief upon inhaling, and that, for the briefest of moments, was extremely supportive. I wanted more!

In one of my favourite songs that has helped my recovery, Sit Around the Fire by East Forest and John Hopkins featuring Ram Dass, Dass talks about an ‘ember’. This moment was a bit like discovering an ember in the ashes...

“Within each of us there once was a fire. And for some of us it seems as though there’s only ashes now. But when we dig in the ashes we find one ember and very gently we fan that ember. Blow on it, it gets brighter. And from that ember we rebuild the fire. The only thing that’s important is that ember.”

The ember was self care. I started to do yoga on YouTube. I read voraciously about mental health and and spirituality. Then I decided to train in yoga. I developed a spiritual practice, all the while growing my oils collection every month instead of buying wine, and learning more and more - mainly through my own use I have to say (there is no learning to be done which betters that of your own experience). I trained as a holistic coach. Then in Reiki… All the time using oils to complement each modality. Things started landing and I felt big shifts. Before I knew it I was on a healing path, quitting alcohol once and for all, and completely retraining in holistic wellbeing. Not only was I using oils to calm my 3 kids (lavender), to apply to my skin (frankincense, cedarwood, copaiba), to add to my tumble dryer (wild orange), plus to my daily water (lemon, peppermint, grapefruit), to bring focus to my ADHD-brain (Lemon, Rosemary), to do yoga with (Patchouli), or to meditate (again Frankincense) - and of course for sleep (Vetiver, Chamomile). But I was also investigating them to use energetically; as a pathway to greater expansion of the mind.

Adaam Barallet, in his book Gifts of the Essential Oils, says…

“In times when new pathogens are finding ways to evolve beyond the capacities of pharmacology essential oils are here as guardians and allies to guide you through times that challenge you physically, emotionally and spiritually… a potent gift from Mother Earth bestowed upon us to guide us home to love, reclaim our birthright to health, vitality, joy, mental harmony and spiritual awakening, just as the universe and our soul intended.”

How do essential oils work?

Essential oils are the essence of a plant, distilled and used for health and energetic benefits. Inside roots, seeds, flowers, bark, are highly potent chemical compounds - essential oils. They give a plant its scent, protect it from hazardous environmental conditions, and even assist it with pollination, among other important functions and benefits. Through the careful process of distillation or extraction, the same properties that protect or regenerate in the plants themselves can be utilised by us.

Each essential oil varies in its natural makeup, so aromas and benefits are also unique. Used around the home or on the body as an alternative to often very harmful synthetic materials, they provide a holistic and highly effective solution for those looking to be healthier in a more natural and safe way. This is really important as we learn more about the root causes of disease and find ways to live better, for the highest good of all - especially the planet.

What I have always been most drawn to when working with oils is their emotional benefits. In particular on an energetic level (by energetic I mean harnessing the plant wisdom as a conduit to ‘higher plains’ when meditating, doing Reiki or yoga).

Essential oils directly impact the limbic system in the brain, which is where our emotions and memories come from. By using oils, we can kind of ‘hack’ the inner systems of how we behave, creating a useful tool for helping soothe or relax, or even building aromatic anchors in situations that previously caused us stress.

All essential oils are not created equal

This is so important - a brief interlude on safety and purity. A very cheap ‘oil’ on offer at the local pharmacy for a few coins is not the same thing as a 100% pure, natural essential oil, farmed sustainably - and extracted carefully and respectfully. Anyone is allowed to put the words natural and pure on their labels, sadly. So many oils are synthetic and have no trace of pure oil in them, or very, very little. Using these types of oils on our skin and even in the air can be very harmful so choose wisely when purchasing. Remember, a little goes a long way. Internal use is only ever advised with top quality oils. Start with just one if budget is a priority. (Only choosing one? Lavender, Lemon or Peppermint are inexpensive and multi purposeful).

A word on hot and citrus oils…

Some oils are ‘hot’. This means they must be diluted and never taken internally. Oregano, cinnamon, clove, cassia are examples. Citrus oils are phototoxic which means you can burn badly when putting them on the skin, even diluted, and going outside - so please use caution. Aromatic dressing (anointing the skin directly is great, but do so under clothes to be sure of safety).

How to use oils

You can use oils 4 ways.

  • By simply inhaling an oil, you are, in fact, ‘taking’ it into your body. Your nose has glands which receive the oils (remember they are volatile compounds so that means they evaporate into the air immediately on leaving the bottle).

  • Oils do benefit from dilution, as the carrier oil prevents them from entering the atmosphere - and instead into your skin. Also it means they last longer - these are potent oils so remember less is more. So using them topically directly on your skin, either on pulse points or on acupressure points, is a great (my favourite) way to use oils. I make up rollers with all my oils - 25 drops to a 10ml roller and top up with fractionated coconut oil.

  • Diffusing oils is becoming more and more popular - and great for when doing yoga or working at your desk. Simply add a few drops to your diffuser and add water to create an ambience in your room to energise, relax or inspire.

  • Lastly, and please use caution here - and only ever with advice from someone who is educated on essential oils as to which oil, from which quality assured brand to use - internal use is sometimes appropriate. I take a drop of lemon oil in my large (metal or glass only) bottle of water every day. If concerned, simply use them in other ways.

Essential oils for sobriety

My journey into alcohol use disorder recovery began about 5 years ago. My actual healing journey in earnest I would say only started 3 years ago. I started to use essential oils as a pathway into that. They have been a catalyst for me into wellbeing, and ultimately into a more steadfast recovery.

I would imagine myself, tucked up in bed at night, using my oils, journaling. As opposed to room spinning, stinking of alcohol and cigarettes!

Essential oils came to represent this new version of me. This health loving, meditator, yogi, coach - lover of a low tox life - hater of toxic chemicals. So when I stumbled occasionally and went back to drinking, it was very much out of alignment with this ‘new me’. I had extreme cognitive dissonance. Until I finally let go of my addiction and threw myself into holistic wellbeing, thanks in no small part to the oils.

Oils become a symbol for me of purity, health, nature - and freedom. I would apply my oil protocols (daily routines) in the morning, all day and in the evening, and they would hold me steady. Like a healthy crutch that nourished, rather than poisoned.

*These practices are taken from Gifts of the Essential Oils book, by Adam Baralet.

Grapefruit: Oil of Self Love

  • Grapefruit Oil is great for cravings. Add a toothpick drop of it under your tongue or add a drop to water.

  • A good oil to aid breast health. Use diluted after a shower.

*Add a few drops of grapefruit to carrier oil or plain lotion and anoint yourself. Affirm that you love yourself and you are beautiful. Be careful in sunlight as grapefruit is phototoxic.

Spearmint: Oil of Deeper Seeking

  • Use spearmint diluted on the throat when you wish to speak your truth.

  • A wonderful addition to a diffuser with grapefruit and clary sage.

*Inhale Spearmint in times of heavy emotions. Visualise green light washing over you, washing away your sadness.

Wild Orange: Oil of Joy

  • A drop of happiness. Wonderful for depression. Try one drop rubbed in your hands and inhaled to remember your worth. Affirm, I am enough (simply because I am alive).

  • Orange is also the oil of abundance - I like to diffuse with Frankincense when working to attract and magnetise wealth.

*Take off your shoes and socks and ground yourself on grass or similar. Inhale Wild Orange and affirm that ‘life is joyful’. Notice a shift.

Vetiver: Oil of Stillness

  • Vetiver is a gorgeously scented sedative. Use 1 drop on the soles of your feet for a deep sleep.

  • Vetiver is lovely for meditation too.

*Try working with Smokey Quartz and Vetiver together. Whisper concerns into the crystal and release the concerns.

Cypress Oil of Flow (and Let Go)

  • Inhaling Cypress is like forest bathing when you can’t do it! Close your eyes and imagine you are surrounded by trees.

  • Try on the soles of your feet to ground

  • and keep your emotional balance. Brilliant for stressful mornings getting kids out the door!

*When you wish to let go of something or someone that is holding too great an attachment for you, light a candle and visualise them. Inhale cypress and then blow out the candle to release.

Clary Sage: Oil of Perspective

  • In the moments when you can’t remember why you are doing this or perhaps you are being triggered… go to Clary Sage for clarity and perspective.

  • Add to the diffuser with spearmint and grapefruit for a blend called ‘Pixi Dust’.

*Try being creative in some way and working with Clary Sage. Engage with less the physical shape of what you might sketch, but the vibrational elements. Have fun!

Arborvitae: Oil of Steadfastness

  • This oil fends off distractions and negativity and all that is not for you. (Just as the tree does to insects that try to feast on its bark).

  • Try adding a drop to your crown chakra (the spot on your scalp) and meditating when you feel drawn to addictive behaviours - or you are about to enter a space where those things are present.

Petitgrain: Oil of Solid Foundation and Purpose

  • I love to work with Petitgrain when considering my higher purpose.

  • It also has a wonderful, mellow citrus scent - and it is lovely as a ‘purefume’.

  • When planning things around your sobriety or a recovery plan, work with Petitgrain to give a feel of solid foundation.

Frankincense - Oil of the Divine Masculine

  • Frank is a powerful oil to remind us of our innate divinity.

  • Often used for meditation, it’s also a very powerful oil to aid in cellular support. Try adding one drop to a glass of water or adding one drop to your third eye chakra for brain support and increased intuition.

  • Remember that each of us has the divine masculine within us. This is a powerful and loving force. Inhale Frank when you need to remind yourself of the loving protection that the Universe offers us all, unconditionally.

Also recommended: add a fractionated coconut oil and a diffuser.

Reach out to Rachel on her Instagram @iamrachelbrady or by email with any questions:

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