My grandmother used to say that the best things come in the smallest packages. She was short, so she liked to come up with advice that made us pay attention. I must have remembered her words, because a few years ago, I started collecting my own small packages—bottles, really. I fell in love with essential oils and the small, brown glass containers that hold the fragrant liquid sometimes referred to as the blood of plants. I couldn’t get enough of collecting the different oils. They now fill several shelves in my hall closet. The operative word here, of course, is “collect.” I certainly can’t say “use.” I loved the scents but didn’t fully understand how to apply them.
Enter my colleague at The Teal Center, acupuncturist Ada Dan Li, who definitely understands and witnesses the power contained in these small brown bottles. Several years ago, she had her first encounter with the oils’ healing potential. She attended a workshop out of curiosity, having no idea that her frozen shoulder could be treated and relieved by essential oils. However, when the instructor applied a specific oil to her neck and shoulder, her shoulder relaxed, allowing full range of motion before the workshop ended. Was she a believer? Absolutely!
Since then she has become a certified aromatherapist and learned to therapeutically incorporate oils in her acupuncture practice. Her clients offer grateful testimonials to her skills. One client with sinus issues since childhood eventually went off the prescription drugs she had been using, thanks to one of Ada’s oils. Another client with multiple sclerosis has gradually regained her ability to drive and to go for weeks without requiring one of Ada’s treatments, again thinks to the healing potential contained in these small bottles. Ada has also had remarkable success helping parents whose children have been diagnosed with ADHA.
Why do essential oils work?
These oils are plant extracts retrieved through steaming or pressing bark, flowers, roots, or resins. They exist as the concentrated forms of the healing components found in plants and trees—just another way to make these health-giving elements shelf stable. Herbal tinctures and dried herbs are other examples that are less concentrated. Because the oils are released as infinitesimally small molecules, they easily are absorbed through the skin, making their way quickly into the circulatory system. Inhaled, they may arrive directly to the brain, specifically the amygdala, an essential part of our limbic system, responsible for hormone response. If you ever taken a deep inhale of peppermint when feeling stressed or slid into a bathtub full of lavender-infused bath salts, you’ve felt their power.
Products such as these have been used with great success for millennia.
Indeed, ask yourself when plant medicine has NOT been used. It is as old as humans. Plant parts and powders have been found in ancient burial mounds, illustrating that humans have experimented with how to release the healing and nutritional powerhouse stored in plants since the earliest civilizations. The first known use of steam distillation to produce essential oils dates to the 11th century, attributed to the Persian polymath, Avicenna, who is honored as one of the earliest fathers of modern medicine. More recently, in 2018, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that essential oils from garlic cloves, myrhh trees, thyme leaves, cinnamon bark, allspice berries, and cumin kill the bacteria associated with Lyme disease.
Ada’s research led her to settle on DoTERRA oils for her acupuncture practice. Though numerous essential oils fill the marketplace, DoTERRA emphasizes safety, purity, and therapeutic usage for the oils it supplies. The company sources from international suppliers to ensure a large variety of medicinal choices. These oils meet 52 standards for purity, safety and therapeutic validity before they are made available for sale. The company also provides clear chain-of-custody data. On the bottom of each bottle is a number that purchasers can type into a DoTERRA website cataloging where the oil came from.
Ada knows that acupuncture works, but she says that it works better when she uses the oils. Ada practices acupuncture to promote client healing, but she works with the oils because they are a tool for client self-care. In her practice, Chinese medicine principles merge with Western medicine practices, enabling her both to identify her clients’ issues and also offer them a tool in the form of the oils that can advance their healing in-between acupuncture treatments.
Ada’s practice proves the truth of my grandmother’s adage. The best things do come in the smallest packages.
Tick Repellent: Essential Oil Recipe to Improve Your Summer
Combine in a 4-ounce spray bottle:
2 ounces witch hazel
2 ounces apple cider vinegar
8 drops eucalyptus
8 drops tea tree
8 drops cedar wood
8 drops rosemary
6 drops lemongrass
Spray as needed every 2 to 4 hours when outdoors