Essential oils, the liquid extract found in plants, are becoming the products of choice for local companies looking to offer alternatives to chemical-filled health and beauty products on the market today.
Loral Deatherage, cofounder of ecocentricity!, hosts classes on essential oils and uses them herself for anything from the common cold to stress relief.
“I usually base things on facts and research, so when I first heard of these essential oils, I thought it was just some modern day ‘woo-woo,’” Deatherage said. “But now, every time I have a pain or ailment, I go to the essential oils first rather than to a doctor or medicines.”
According to Deatherage, essential oils are basically the energies used by plants to protect themselves against various threats. The plants are typically steam distilled to capture the essence inside. The oil from each plant contains different properties and can be used for a variety of applications.
These oils are similar to herbal medications, Deatherage said, but much more powerful.
Common uses include alleviation of burns, headaches, colds, coughs, upset stomach, nausea, fever and bug bites. People also use them for aromatherapy to relax, sleep better and even prevent illnesses.
Despite the long list of benefits, Deatherage said people today aren’t commonly using these oils because our society focuses on hospitals and doctors for healing or wellness.
“Doctors won’t usually steer people toward essential oils for their illnesses because it’s just not part of their training,” she added. “They are taught to treat things with drugs or surgery.”
Ancient civilizations used oils (similar to the blend “Thieves,” pictured right) to fight off illnesses and even ward off the plague, but then we became too “smart” with our technological advances, Deatherage said.
“We forgot about what’s out there in nature, and about these methods that are much easier on the body,” she said. “We’ve turned our health completely over to our doctors rather than being responsible for our own bodies.”
Tracy Perkins, owner and artisan at Strawberry Hedgehog, said she uses essential oils in her bath and body products because conventional products can contain over 3,000 different chemicals.
“There is a reason people get headaches when they head through that (perfume) section in the shopping mall,” Perkins said.
She added that the blanket term “fragrance” often refers to products containing thousands of mystery ingredients, including some that are toxic.
“We could easily return to using all essential oils in place of synthetic fragrance,” Perkins said. “(There are) greatly improved products available that actually help people rather than hurt them.”
Kari Bower, owner of Emelmahae Soap Company, said she has used essential oils for over 20 years and also refuses to put any synthetic fragrances into her products.
“Using essential oils makes for better products because your body knows what to do with them,” Bower said. “They are also better for the earth and won’t cause pollution issues because the earth knows what to do with them, too.”
With more people becoming “label-readers,” Bower said there is much more awareness of the difference between natural and synthetic products. When she sells her products at the Phoenix Public Market, customers will actually pick up the soap products and read the list of ingredients.
“People are starting to notice a difference in these types of things,” she added. “I think that (the oils) are a much better choice, and they enhance life while helping clean out unnecessary toxins from the things around us, so they definitely deserve a shot.”
Keep an eye out for these local companies that sell essential oil products: