Nutrition & Essential Oils
Have you jumped in on the essential oil craze? Lavender, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree … Many people have made essential oils part of their everyday beauty, cleaning or wellness routine. In fact, essential oil sales in the U.S. have boomed over the last few years to nearly half a billion dollars annually. If you haven’t given them a shot yet—or even if you’re a devoted user—check out some of the basics on essential oils and a few interesting things you may not have known.
Did you know essential oils aren’t really oils at all? They are actually highly concentrated elements of the plant itself. Hundreds of plants can be used for essential oils such as chamomile, cinnamon, jasmine, red cedar and valerian. People have been using essential oils in many different ways since ancient times—for their healing properties, stimulation, relaxation, cleaning and disinfection. Today, there are a vast variety of uses for essential oils—as a scent for your body, an air freshener for the home, in homemade cleaning products, for relief from cold symptoms, as a stimulant in massages, an addition to DIY face scrubs and masks and many more.
To start, try some of the more popular oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, tea tree (melaleuca) and lavender. See below for some tips on using these. And always remember that essential oils are not fragrance oils! Fragrance oils are artificially created and likely contain chemicals.
There are a lot of resources online that tell you to buy “therapeutic grade” essential oils and while you’ll see this label on some products, it doesn’t actually mean anything specific. There is no government agency or independent group that regulates or approves items with this label. Instead look for essential oils that are 100% pure, organic, sourced from known botanical species, sustainably grown and harvested, chemical-free and widely used by integrative health professionals.
Basic Uses & Tips
First and foremost, always make sure you are using a high-quality product. Some of the below uses involve placing the oil on your skin—so you want to be sure it’s safe and comes from a good source. Also, do research to make sure an oil is safe for topical or oral uses, some essential oils can be toxic.
- The next time you or someone in your family has a cold, put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil in the tub. As the steam rises from a shower or bath, the essential oil will help to open up the sinuses.
- To relieve a headache, place a couple dots of peppermint oil on your temples, forehead and back of the neck.
- Use lemon essential oil to remove the sticky gunk left on glass from stickers.
- Make your own air freshener by mixing tea tree oil with baking soda and placing in a container with a lid. Be sure to poke holes in the lid!
- Keep lavender essential oil on hand to reduce stress. Research has shown that breathing in this calming scent can help with relaxation.
Be cautious with using essential oils if you are pregnant or nursing without approval from your doctor.
Many people do not consider the role of nutrition in their physical health, but when you stop to consider it, nutrition is an integral part of health. If you are receiving chiropractic care, your chiropractor may work with you to ensure that you are eating a proper diet that contains fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low fat dairy and healthy fats.
If you have a poor diet compounded with bad eating habits, your body will not operate to its optimal efficiency which will make you feel tired all of the time. As a result of this inefficient operation, your body will start to break down. If you tend to eat a lot of processed foods, sugar and empty calories that have no real nutritional value, you are setting yourself up for inflammation. Inflammation leads to severe joint pain among other painful health conditions.
When a person is being treated by a chiropractor, they can maximize the effect of the treatments that they receive by adopting a good self-care routine. The routine should include regular chiropractic treatments, optimal nutrition, proper hydration, a reasonable amount of exercise and plenty of rest.
If you are unsure about what kind of foods you should be eating, speak to your chiropractor who can probably give you some good information on what to eat. When in doubt, consider consuming raw foods dense in nutrients, especially vegetables.
Here are some of the benefits of various foods:
- Fresh vegetables including cabbage, peppers, carrots, spinach, kale, tomatoes and legumes are foods that are high in fiber and contain minerals and vitamins required by the body. You should aim to eat 7 – 9 servings of fresh vegetables daily.
- Fresh fruits in season including strawberries, red grapes, blueberries, cherries, blackberries and pomegranates are loaded with high levels of antioxidants which help the body to get rid of toxins and free radicals.
- Whole grains such as whole wheat bread, oats and brown rice are good choices that help the body to function with fiber and valuable amino acids.
- Fresh herbs (when possible) and spices can not only add flavor to food, but provide a good benefit to the person consuming them. Turmeric contains a large concentration of anti-inflammatory compound that is easily digested. Cinnamon, cider vinegar, basil, mint, chamomile, parsley, chili pepper and black pepper all contain compounds that reduce inflammation.
If you are not eating well, your nerves can be affected by impacting their ability to share information. Improper nutrition can affect the body’s ability to repair muscle, muscle density, the function of your organs and fluid levels in your cells.