Guest post by Katie Bodily
Essential oils are all the rage these days. For years, essential oils were only used by aromatherapists or spas. But today, essential oils have become a common household item, thanks to the popularity of health food stores, the emergence of essential oil multi-level marketing companies, and available information via the Internet.
I’ve been studying about and using essential oils for 9 years (before the big oil boom) and use them in my daily life as well as my foot zone and energy therapy practice. I was diagnosed with PCOS as a teenager and have struggled with my health through my adult years until I took charge and completed the PCOS Diva Jumpstart Program. Since then, my understanding of PCOS has changed dramatically. I’ve learned that PCOS is different for every woman, and that it requires a unique combination of tools to manage your own personal brand of PCOS. One of my favorite tools, especially since I’ve adopted the PCOS Diva lifestyle, is essential oils.
If you’re new to essential oils, here’s a brief run-down of what they are and how they work:
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils contain the healing properties of plants in a very concentrated form. They are made by distilling plant material to extract the oil. It can take 16 pounds of the fresh peppermint leaf to produce one ounce of essential oil! They can heal the body, mind, and spirit. They can improve the overall function of the immune system, oxygenate cells, repair damaged tissue, cleanse the body, and bring the body and spirit into balance.
There are 3 categories of oils available today:
- Fragrance oils–used to fragrance a room, like you would find at Bed Bath & Beyond, and contain zero therapeutic benefits and often contain harmful chemicals.
- Flavoring oils—used to flavor foods and candies, and contain zero therapeutic benefits but can be ingested.
- Pure Essential Oils—contain nutritive and therapeutic properties of plants. Only buy pure essential oils! There are many companies that provide good quality pure essential oils. It’s a matter of preference who you choose to buy from. In my experience, the oils sold in health food stores are the lowest quality and the oils sold by non-multi-level marketing companies are the highest quality. My favorite company is Butterfly Express. Their approach to essential oils most closely follows my own beliefs and opinions regarding essential oil purity, methods of use, education, and distribution.
What to Use and Why:
When living with PCOS, our main focus is to balance our hormones. Essential oils can aid in this process. As we all have our own personal brand of PCOS, we will have varying levels of success with this. The three most common oils for treating hormone imbalances are clary sage (for estrogen imbalance), thyme (for progesterone imbalance), and sandalwood (for testosterone imbalance). Other oils that can be helpful are basil, cypress, fennel, geranium, and lemon. I also really like a blend of oils called EndoRelief (sold by Butterfly Express) that supports the endocrine system. EndoRelief contains cumin, cypress, coriander, dill, geranium, myrtle, nutmeg, oregano, petitgrain, and sage essential oils. Another blend I like is called WomanWise (also sold by Butterfly Express) which aids in hormone balance. This blend contains clary sage, jasmine, lavender, marjoram, patchouli, spikenard, rue, and St John’s Wort. For women who are approaching, at, or have completed menopause, you would use the oil Balance (sold by Butterfly Express) for hormonal support instead of WomanWise. Balance contains chamomile Egyptian, chaste tree, clary sage, cypress, lavender, marjoram, myrtle, peppermint, rose geranium, sage, yarrow, and ylang ylang. You can rub the oils (diluted with coconut oil) over the abdomen several times a day, or on the inside of the ankle (the reflexology spot for the uterus).
One of the more frustrating aspects of PCOS is the persistent acne. As long as I’m a true Diva, my acne is completely gone, but sometimes I’ll have an indulgence and pay for it later on my face. I have found that tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca) is great at zapping those deep cystic breakouts. Some people like to add it to their daily face wash. For some, that is too drying and they prefer to use it directly on the breakout. I’ve also heard that lemon oil works well too. If applying the oil directly to your skin is too strong, try adding a small amount of coconut oil. If coconut oil makes your acne worse, you can use witch hazel or even distilled water to mix with the oil to decrease its strength.
Uses in Your Home
When transitioning to a Diva lifestyle, it was really hard for me to ditch my Bath & Body Works obsession! But when I started to take an inventory of my house, I realized just how many chemicals and fragrances were all around me, potentially disrupting my delicate hormone balance. Now I use essential oils to freshen my home.
In place of dryer sheets, I put a few drops of lavender oil on a wool dryer ball and throw it in the dryer with the laundry. I buy fragrance/dye-free laundry detergent and add a couple drops of a citrus blend called Sunburst (sold by Butterfly Express) to neutralize odors in the laundry. Sunburst contains citronella, grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, orange sweet, spearmint, and tangerine.
I make my own foaming hand soap with castile soap, water, and about 20 drops of essential oils. You can use tea tree or I like the blends Deliverance or SpiceC from Butterfly Express for their anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Deliverance contains cinnamon bark, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, oregano, oregano wild, rosemary, and thyme. SpiceC is similar and contains cinnamon bark, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, orange sweet, and rosemary.
I diffuse a variety of oils throughout the year to freshen the air (lemon oil is a favorite) and to kill airborne viruses and bacteria (my favorite is SpiceC). During the holidays I make a room spray with just water and 20-30 drops of essential oil (my favorite is Holiday Spirit from Butterfly Express which contains benzoin, cinnamon bark, fir siberica, orange sweet, orange sweet dark, and spruce).
This year I successfully made my own bug spray with water, witch hazel, and a blend of oils called Away (from Butterfly Express) and it worked well! Away contains catnip, cedarwood, cinnamon berry, citronella, clove, and eucalyptus peppermint.
Essential Oils for Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Essential oils can also support our Diva lifestyle by reducing stress and anxiety. Lavender is one of the most popular oils for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. One of my very favorite oils for stress and anxiety is a blend called Tranquility (from Butterfly Express) and the Bach Flower’s Rescue Remedy drops. Just smelling the Tranquility oil can stop a panic attack. Tranquility contains blue tansy, geranium, chamomile German, lavender, palmarosa, patchouli, orange sweet, tangerine, and ylang ylang.
One of my favorite ways to manage the stress in my life is to take a bath with essential oils. You only need 1-2 drops of each oil in a bath. I like to add oils to relieve muscle tension like peppermint (one drop is plenty and may be too strong for sensitive skin!) and the blends Paine and Warm Down (from Butterfly Express). Paine and Warm Down contain the oils birch, clove, copaiba balsam, eucalyptus, helichrysum, peppermint, basil, cypress, fir, lavender, marjoram, and wintergreen. I also love to apply peppermint to my neck and shoulders when I have muscle tension and/or a headache. If your skin is sensitive, make sure you dilute the peppermint with coconut oil. Not everyone can tolerate essential oils in the bath and may experience skin irritation.
Essential oils can also help with depression. Some suggested oils for depression are basil, geranium, lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang. There are also many blends of oils to treat depression; my favorites are HeartSong and Letting Go (from Butterfly Express) that contain the oils bergamot, geranium, grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, orange sweet, rose, rose geranium, rosewood, ylang ylang, blue tansy, hinoki, lavender, and sandalwood.
A Word of Caution
As you begin using essential oils, always dilute them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, until you learn what oils your skin can tolerate. If you experience discomfort from an oil, rub coconut oil on the irritation to decrease the strength of the oil. Do not add oils to a child’s bath until you feel very confident in the use of essential oils.
As you learn about and begin to use essential oils to support your health, you’ll come across different schools of thought regarding proper use of oils. Spend a little time learning about the oils for yourself and find what feels right for you. For more information about how I use essential oils and things that I’ve learned, feel free to browse my forever-evolving blog: myfavoriteoils.blogspot.com.
More about essential oils for PCOS:
Katie Bodily is a Foot Zone Practitioner, trained in various emotion and energy healing techniques. Katie is passionate about teaching others about essential oils so they can use them safely and effectively to achieve health and wellness. This year she started her blog about essential oils (myfavoriteoils.blogspot.com). In addition, Katie is a stay home mom who has embraced the PCOS Diva lifestyle.