The Trend That's Sweeping The Nation
"Do you want to go to that essential oil class on Monday?" my sister-in-law asked me the other night. I hesitated, definitely intrigued but still hesitant to take the step into what I apparently irrationally labeled as full-blown crunchy-granola-mother in my head.
But what kind of mother wouldn't want the best for her children and their health? The premise of going all natural and chemical-free really does sound promising, but I am also at my core, a skeptic. I don't want to get swept into a fad or a trend or heck, even a pyramid scheme of the latest stay-at-home business.
So I talked to one mom who's been there, claiming that she and her family have been completely medicine free for almost a year, to get the low-down on essential oils and if they are actually safe for young children and babies.
Disclaimer: The following information is a personal testimony from a mother who uses essential oils and you should always check with your doctor for full medical advice.
Rachel Stuewer Leipprandt is a mom of two who not only distributes and educates on essential oils in her community, but claims that the oils have completely changed their family's lifestyle. She blogs at Pins & Pigtails and was kind enough to answer my questions.
Getting started in oils
Like many mothers, Rachel worried when her daughter started showing symptoms of severe allergies. "We struggled with her for two years, fighting rashes, behavior issues and sicknesses," Rachel explains. Even after visiting several doctors, trying strict diet modifications, using prescriptions creams and having surgery to remove her adenoids, nothing seemed to be working.
"We really didn't know where else to turn and the numerous medical professionals we had seen basically said we were doing all we could and she may or may not grow out of her allergies," Rachel remembers. Shortly after experiencing what Rachel calls "rock bottom" with her daughter's ailments, a coworker introduced her to essential oils as an alternative medicine — and Rachel's daughter's allergies were instantly transformed. "We are now nearing our year anniversary of being medicine and allergy free! We are healthier and happier than we have ever been," she says.
Oils, the baby-proof medicine
"Oils are safe to use on all ages," Rachel says. "Babies, elderly and everything in between." She also used essential oils successfully while breastfeeding, although she cautions that women should be more careful using oils during pregnancy.
And while I was not able to find any guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically on the use of essential oils on babies or children, they do caution for the use of alternative medicine for children, primarily due to the lack of thorough scientific testing for the treatments, saying, "Parents should not equate 'natural' with 'safe.'"
One oil fits all
Honestly, it's easy to get overwhelmed when even contemplating getting started using essential oils, especially on a wriggling, squirming little baby. Rachel recommends getting started with one oil that can be thought of as the "one size fits all, catch all" oil: lavender.
"Lavender is one of those 'everything oils,' especially when it comes to children," Rachel explains. "When I first started oiling, it honestly used to bother me that every time we had an ailment arise, I would look up the recommended oil in my reference guide and it would almost always recommend lavender. Now I have come to accept this as a good thing because who doesn't want an affordable oil that does everything? We have used it to rid earaches, heal wounds, clear rashes, calm our restless/hyperactive girls and as a vital part in overcoming allergies." And as a bonus, Rachel adds that lavender is great for teething too.
A complete list of oils for baby
Rachel recommends using the following oils for common ailments in babies and young children:
- Fennel: aids in digestion, eases colic, and increases lactation
- Lemon: clears jaundice, eases gas, rids heartburn
- Peppermint: reduces fevers, eases tummy aches, clears congestion, relieves nausea
- Thieves: prevents and helps fight sickness, removes wart, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-everything bad
- Peace and Calming: soothes and relaxes, relieves tension
How to use essential oils
This is the part I was most confused on when it comes to essential oils — how do you actually use them? Do you eat them, smell them, rub them?
"With kids, I use a carrier oil (coconut or olive oil) to apply the essential oils to their feet," explains Rachel. "This is a great place because it keeps the oils away from their eyes. Not that getting them in their eyes is damaging, but it can hurt to get peppermint in your eye, right? Your feet absorb the oils very quickly and they are able to get into the bloodstream and circulate through the entire body in less than 20 minutes. So this is a great option for treating children. I prefer to keep my socks on and put oils on my wrists and neck. My husband drinks all of his. When you are using a certified, pure essential oil, we like to say there really is no wrong way. Get the oils on you, or in you, and your body [is] innately designed to know what to do!"
Get started using your own essential oils
To get started as an essential oil user, you might consider purchasing a "starter kit" that includes the basics for successful oiling. For instance, the kit that Rachel uses and distributes contains eleven common oils, including lavender, peppermint, lemon, Peace and Calming, Thieves, Panaway, Valor, Purification, and Stress-Away.
"With that, it is great to get a reference guide to help you know what oil to use when," Rachel states. "I would highly recommend the "Reference Guide for Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley."
Lastly, attending an introductory class is a great way to hear more testimonies, learn some everyday uses and gain knowledge and know-how for getting started. "I have started teaching these classes myself in order to teach others about these life-changing, healing oils," says Rachel. "You can contact me or a distributor you know for more information on classes available in your area."