Essential oils to carry you through the silly season

Just the thought of the zillion events between now and New Year’s Day and braving the shops in December is enough to send the bravest badass spiralling. And I aint no badass. On top of being an introvert who needs ample alone time to thrive, I’m also an empath who internalises the energy in a room. Too much peopling saps my energy and makes me want to curl up into a blankie burrito for days at a time.

 

We feel so much pressure at this time of year to do and be ALL the things, and kids can easily pick up on our jangled vibes. Having to go to school and relentlessly concentrate, socialise and play for the entire year wears out their little bodies, in the same way that a year of work/study/mummin’ grinds us down.

 

By term four, my little wildlings are beyond done – I honestly don’t know how they manage to go to school and kindy, focus on tasks and keep from throwing down with anyone who rattles their nerves because I’m barely keeping my sinking ship afloat, and I’m (for the most part) a mature, functioning adult.

 

It’s obvious that they’re holding it together by a bare thread because, sometimes, they don’t even make it to the car before the emotion spills out. Add in end of year sport comps, school concerts and getting dragged along to Christmas catch ups and they’re essentially walking time bombs, on the cusp of illness and meltdowns, at any given moment.

 

Kids can’t rely on caffeine for an energy lift and mental boost like we do. Even we adults should rely on it a little less, particularly during the warmer months, because it’s so dehydrating. It’s also more difficult for kids to self-regulate and communicate, let alone determine, what their needs are.

 

While an adult can decompress after a shitty day by venting to a spouse or friend, going for a walk to clear their head, or drowning their sorrows in a tub of gelato, kids exert minimal control over their daily routine and are likely to go from the structure of school to a regimented evening, which might include homework, extra-curricular activities, reading, set times for eating and bathing, and probably no ice cream (massive bummer). 

 

Trying not to overbook and ensuring that we have some lazy weekends goes a long way to refilling our cups, but as we wade through the pointy end, our bodies can benefit from additional support. Essential oils are a gentle yet powerful tool that kids and adults alike can use safely and easily to promote calm and wellness. 

 

The 4-1-1 on essential oils

If you’re a newb to the world of essential oils, here’s the scoop … Simply put, essential oils are concentrated plant extracts. Usually, a process of steam distillation or cold pressing captures the unique aromatic compounds in plants to produce pure essential oils.

 

It is important to choose high-quality essential oils from a reputable source (psst, Taylor Made Bliss) because some producers use chemical solvents to obtain plant extracts or weaken their oils with filler products and synthetic compounds to increase their profit margins. Of course, when you dilute the natural essence of a plant or add in synthetic chemicals, you are not going to enjoy the same benefits as you would using the pure product and may even experience harmful side effects.

 

While there is limited hard science to support the role of essential oils in maintaining health, aromatherapy has been used for millennia in ayurvedic medicine. There is no shortage or anecdotal evidence to support the benefits of aromatherapy and, as essential oils gain popularity, more researchers are turning their attention to validating their value.

 

There are many small-scale studies demonstrating the supportive role of pure aromatic compounds in many facets of health, including pain management, sleep quality and anxiety relief. Robert Tisserand is a world-leading expert on aromatherapy, and I encourage you to devour his website tisserandinstitute.org if you’re interested in science-backed essential oil info.

 

How to use essential oils

Bottom line: you’ll want to sniff them. Essential oils stimulate the smell receptors in your nose which, in turn, communicate with your nervous system to produce a range of positive outcomes. You can inhale them directly from the bottle or by placing a few drops in an ultrasonic diffuser, with water.

 

Topical application is helpful for close and consistent exposure to beneficial compounds, whether at home or out and about. Some essential oils, used topically, have a role in skin health and infection control.

 

Because they are so potent, essential oils must be diluted before they are applied to the skin, lest they cause irritation and sensitisation to sunlight. A good rule of thumb for adults is a maximum of 15 drops of essential oil per 30 ml (or two tablespoons) of carrier oil, such as avocado, macadamia or fractionated coconut oil.

 

Children’s skin is even more sensitive and so essential oils must be more heavily diluted before used topically on kids. In young children, three drops of essential oil per 30ml of carrier oil is adequate, progressing to six drops per 30ml of carrier oil in older children. Please avoid topical use in babies younger than six months and consult your healthcare provider before use on young children.

 

You may have heard of essential oil advocates adding essential oils to beverages, but as a general rule, steer clear of this practice, unless under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist.

 

Silly season support

Now, to the crux of this article – which essential oils are going to steer you through the remainder of the year with calm, clarity and strength? To be up to the task, they’ll need to fight off the lurgies that spread like melted butter as the season changes, promote restful sleep, battle anxiety and focus the mind so that you can tick off the 124,733,781 tasks at hand. Here are four of our favourites …

 

Vetiver

Harnessed from a grassy Indian native, vetiver oil has a sweet, earthy aroma which belies its powerful calming effects. While vetiver doesn’t enjoy the same glory as better-known essential oils, it’s the star of our sleepy-time blends for littles and grown-ups because it packs a knockout punch. In a 2015 rodent study[1], vetiver oil demonstrated similar anti-anxiety effects to the anxiety medication, diazepam. At the same time, vetiver has been shown to decrease mental fatigue[2], helping you to focus and keep a clear mind.

 

Frankincense

The three wise men didn’t gift frank to the big J for nothing. Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense has a spicy and earthy scent and a whole host of benefits. Frankincense has been used to treat infections from as early on as the 11th century and shows antimicrobial activity against a range of human pathogens, including bacteria and fungi[3]. Frank also shows analgesic effects similar to anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen[4], to send headaches packing. A 2011 rodent study also found that frankincense improved memory[5]

 

Lavender

Lavender features in so many of our Wylde Tyga and aka Bliss blends because it’s the MacGyver of essential oils – there’s almost nothing it can’t do. It sounds a little cliché to recommend lavender oil for a good night’s sleep but it’s not for nothing! Renowned for its calming properties and sleep-inducing sorcery, lavender has demonstrated its worth as a sleep aid and anxiety reliever in small-scale studies.[6] [7] It also shows powerful antimicrobial activity[8], helping you to ward off illness-causing pathogens. 

 

Rosemary

Though you might think of rosemary as little more than a culinary seasoning, or one half of a charming British crime thriller, it’s actually an aromatherapy powerhouse, promoting calm and mental alertness. In small studies, inhaling rosemary was found to reduce the level of stress hormone cortisol in saliva[9], reduce the pulse rate of anxious test takers[10] and improve the speed and accuracy of participants in a maths test, in direct proportion to the length of time that rosemary oil had been diffused (wow!)[11]. Rosemary is another germ-fighting dynamo, making it an obvious choice for our High Health immune support blend. This is one potent oil, so be sure to keep away from kiddies under 6 years of age.

 

I hope that the above info has given you confidence in turning to nature’s toolkit to support your family through this nutso time of year. I would wish you luck in finding little moments of zen as we hurtle towards Christmas at warp speed, but with the right essential oils, you won’t need it. Please feel free to contact me with any oily questions you may have – I have studied aromatherapy for many years and it is a joy to help others discover the many benefits of essential oils.

 

Peace, love & oils,

 

Chloe xo

 

 

 

 

 

 REFERENCES:

[1] Somrudee Saiyudthong, Sirinun Pongmayteegul, Charles A. Marsden & Pansiri Phansuwan-Pujito (2015) Anxiety-like behaviour and c-fos expression in rats that inhaled vetiver essential oil, Natural Product Research, 29:22, 2141-2144.

 

[2] Cheaha D, Issuriya A, Manor R, Kwangjai J, Rujiralai T, Kumarnsit E. Modification of sleep-waking and electroencephalogram induced by vetiver essential oil inhalation. Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology. 2016;5(1):72-78.

 

[3] Di Stefano V, Schillaci D, Cusimano MG, Rishan M, Rashan L. In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Frankincense Oils from Boswellia sacra Grown in Different Locations of the Dhofar Region (Oman). Antibiotics (Basel). 2020;9(4):195.

 

[4] Basch E, Boon H, Davies-Heerema T, Foppo I, Hashmi S, Hasskarl J, Sollars D, Ulbricht C. Boswellia: an evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 2004;4(3):63-83

 

[5] Mahmoudi A, Hosseini-Sharifabad A, Monsef-Esfahani HR, Yazdinejad AR, Khanavi M, Roghani A, Beyer C, Sharifzadeh M. Evaluation of systemic administration of Boswellia papyrifera extracts on spatial memory retention in male rats. Journal of Natural Medicine. 2011 Jul;65(3-4):519-25

 

[6] Conrad P, Adams C. The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high-risk postpartum woman — a pilot studyComplementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2012;18(3):164-168. 

 

[7] Smith Lillehei A, Halcón LL, Savik K, Reis R. Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled TrialJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2015;21(7):430-438. 

 

[8]  Varona S, Rojo S.R, Martín Á, Cocero M.J, Serra A.T, Crespo T, Duarte C.M.M. Antimicrobial activity of lavandin essential oil formulations against three pathogenic food-borne bacteria. Industrial Crops and Products. 2013;42:243–250.

 

[9] Atsumi T, Tonosaki K. Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva. Psychiatry Research. 2007 Feb 28;150(1):89-96. 

 

[10] McCaffrey R, Thomas DJ, Kinzelman AO. The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students. Holistic Nursing Practice. 2009 Mar-Apr;23(2):88-93.

 

[11] Moss M, Oliver L. Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. 2012 Jun;2(3):103-13.