The Power of Essential Oils

Lavender

Today’s guest post was contributed by essential oils aficionado and wellness advocate Cathy Butcher, who has decades of experience using essential oils and works to help others discover how the power of a plant can improve their wellbeing.

I believe that essential oils are especially important to support our mental health during the stressful times we are living in.

Use of essential oils in holistic health has grown rapidly over the last twenty years and they are no longer regarded as just a “pleasant fragrance” to perfume our living spaces; there is increased awareness of how they can benefit both our physical and mental health. 

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are potent aromatic compounds which come from different parts of the plant; they can be taken from flowers, herbs, leaves, seeds, stems and bark.

Usually, the oil is steam distilled or pressed from the plant and on average can be eighty times more powerful than the plant alone.

Different plants yield different amounts of oil. For instance, it will take 242,000 rose petals to make just 5ml of pure rose oil, whereas 3lbs of lavender flowers will produce 15ml of lavender essential oil! This obviously impacts on the price of high-grade oils such as undiluted rose oil essential oil.

Who discovered essential oils?

Essential oils have been used as natural medicines for centuries. There is evidence that the Egyptians used oils as early as 4500BC, to make perfumes and healing tinctures.

India, too, has a 3,000-year history of using oils such as ginger, cinnamon and sandalwood for healing. According to the Bible, frankincense and myrrh were offered as gifts by the “wise men”; at that time, they were regarded as more precious than gold.

And legend has it that in the Middle Ages, during the time of the bubonic plague in Europe – also called the Great Plague, a group of thieves was arrested for stealing from the dead and dying. They were questioned as to why they seemed to be immune from this deadly disease and are said to have explained that they were spice merchants who used a mixture of essential oils, including clove, cinnamon, lemon and rosemary applied to their hands, feet and temples to protect them from catching the deadly disease.

They shared their secret, hoping to be set free, and doctors began using oils to protect themselves…but unfortunately the men were hanged.

Today, many of us have used products which work through the addition of essential oils, like Vicks, a decongestant rubbed on the chest and back to relieve coughs and sinusitis. This contains the oils eucalyptus, cedarwood and nutmeg, suspended in petroleum jelly.

Likewise, peppermint oil is used in capsules to ease bloating. A drop of peppermint on cotton wool places in corners of the room will also deter spiders and mice.

It is widely known that lavender can aid sleep, and orange or other citrus oils are uplifting.

Of course, essential oils can also be used as flavourings, as well as being medicinal. Vanilla is possibly one of the best-known essential oil used as an ingredient; as well as being flavoursome, the oil also promotes feelings of contentment and happiness.

How do they work?

When we inhale through the nose, the airborne molecules from the oils interact with the olfactory organs – sacs inside the nose which are responsible for our sense of smell – and swiftly enter the limbic system of the brain, which is the part of the brain that plays a part in emotions and long-term memory.

Interestingly, the limbic system also plays a role in controlling several of our automatic bodily functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Molecules inhaled through the nose also enter the respiratory system and can enter the blood from the lungs.

For this reason, essential oils are a potent way to calm the nervous system and soothe our minds.

What are the benefits of using essential oils?

Essential oils have been shown to have powerful antibacterial properties, and possibly even antiviral properties. There have been many studies about the medicinal and healing properties of essential oils.

Obviously, they should never replace advice from doctors, and should be used alongside other medicines.

How to use essential oils

When using essential oils, there are a couple of main ways:

Place the oil on the skin, diluted in a carrier oil, so it can be absorbed through the pores and enter the bloodstream. Inhale the oil, either through diffusing it or rubbing the oil in your palms and taking several deep breaths.

Are they safe to use?

– As with any natural medicine, there are contraindications which people should be aware of. Some oils are unsafe for animals and some are not recommended for use during pregnancy.

– In the case of animals, when diffusing, the animal should be allowed to leave the room if it wants.

For anyone who is pregnant, or suffering from heart problems or high blood pressure, the advice would be to consult an aromatherapist to check which essential oils are safe to use; or, of course, check with your GP if you’re unsure. 

Here are some of the main essential oils and their properties:

Chamomile
Reputedly works for cold, fevers and nausea. It is also calming and aids sleep. It is very safe for children.

Clove
Dental and pain-relieving. A natural antibiotic. 

Eucalyptus
A topical pain-reliever and decongestant, which helps improve coughs.

Frankincense
A mood-enhancer and stress-reducer. Antiseptic. It is good for ageing skin. 

Lavender
Known to be calming and sleep-inducing. It is also antiseptic and can be used to heal burns.

Lemon
A natural household cleaner and disinfectant. The fragrance is naturally uplifting (as are the other citric oils, such as orange and neroli).

Oregano
Skin-healing and possibly antibiotic. 

Peppermint
Good for cold and flu prevention, and a quick energy-booster. Helps improve headaches. It is often used as a natural digestive remedy. 

Rosemary
Improves skin and hair health, and relieves joint pain.  It aids concentration and memory.

Tea Tree
Used for centuries by the Aborigines to heal wounds. Antiseptic, possibly antiviral. A great solution for oily skin. 

How to choose an essential oil

There is, as yet, no regulation of essential oils; they can be labelled as “pure” but contain only eight per cent of the pure oil, with the remainder consisting of cheaper alternatives and “filler” ingredients.

Unfortunately, most oils on the high street are low-grade quality, masquerading as 100% pure!

To ensure the quality of the oils you purchase, always check that your supply is high quality. You can research the manufacturer, or even email them to ask questions about the purity of the oil, where it came from and whether it is certified as organic, etc.

When choosing an essential oil, be led by your nose!

About the contributor

Cathy Butcher has been using essential oils for the last 35 years and is currently researching their emotional effects and how they can improve our emotional health and wellbeing.

Find out more about essential oils and how they can enhance your wellbeing on an emotional level by contacting Cathy at butcher.cathy1@gmail.com.

Want to write about wellbeing? Contact info@wellnessbooks.co.uk to discuss self-publishing a book on wellness.

Can kinesiology help heal emotional and physical pain?

Muscle testing

This week’s blog, about kinesiology – the study of the body’s movements, which often includes a technique called muscle testing, was written for us by kinesiology expert and founder of Balanced Wellness clinic, Claire Snowdon-Darling.

Keep reading to find out what is kinesiology, how it works, and how this great all-round alternative therapy can help heal physical and emotional issues.

Intro to kinesiology

Kinesiology was discovered by Dr. George Goodheart in the 1960s. He was the first to identify that there were muscles that were not ‘locking’ or working, which meant other muscles became painful and overused. Where traditional therapies focus on the painful muscle, kinesiology identifies the root cause of the problem – the muscles that are not functioning and uses techniques to turn those muscles on.

What is kinesiology?

Kinesiology uses the theory of muscle testing (technique used to assess the strength of a muscle or group of muscles in the body) to discover the underlying causes contributing to various health issues. The causes are usually rooted in one or more of what we call the four “realms” or “The BEES”, which are:

Biochemical – This can include food we are intolerant to, chemical toxicity such as household chemicals, pesticides or pollution, and also vitamins and minerals we are depleted in.

Emotional – These can be old trauma or anxieties that are causing issues in our day-to-day life and creating physical symptoms.

Electrical – The body works by electricity, so we use electrical techniques such as acupuncture points and meridians to rebalance the energy fields of the body.

Structural – Our posture affects our health, and making sure our entire system is working properly eliminates many symptoms. For example, when we are stressed, we can have a malfunctioning ileo-cecal valve (a valve that links the small intestine and large intestine), which structurally interferes with digestion.

How does a kinesiologist work?

Once the root cause is identified, we support you with solutions that include kinesiology techniques to strengthen the muscles, nutritional recommendations, structural work, energy reflexes and emotional coaching to guide you back to your full health potential.

Nutritionally – because of today’s unnatural farming methods and our tendency to eat processed and microwaved foods – most people in the UK are deficient in vital nutrients. During an appointment, it is likely that you will be recommended a programme of supplements to aid your recovery.

Standards in kinesiology

Many studies in kinesiology are carried out by The International College of Applied Kinesiology, to ensure that we are working with tried-and-tested, effective tools.

Why is kinesiology unique?

A skilled kinesiologist uses a toolbox of techniques, because we work with all of the four “realms”. This allows us to offer a broader range of support and to fully support you on your health journey.

How many sessions will I need?

The number of kinesiology sessions varies on the person, their problems and how well they follow any changes recommended to their diet and lifestyle. Generally, people feel a significant improvement within their first one to three appointments. Once optimum health has been attained, regular appointments keep the body balanced and prevent further ill health.

What is Functional Kinesiology and how is it different?

There are many different types of kinesiology. Functional kinesiology takes kinesiology a little further; it was created as a reaction to the global health crisis we are facing.

In functional kinesiology we focus on six pillars of health:

  • Blood sugars stability
  • Adrenal and thyroid stress
  • Hormone balancing
  • The digestive system and gut microbiome
  • The immune system
  • Emotional transformation.

About the contributor:

Claire is an expert in menopause, digestion and emotional transformation and is the visionary founder of Balanced Wellness, where she has worked with thousands of clients since 2007. Through this work, she has developed a series of protocols which have been accredited as a new therapy and are taught through The College Of Functional Kinesiology, of which she is the Head. This training focuses on the six pillars of health: blood sugars, stress, hormones, digestion, immune and emotional transformation. She is also the co-host of the popular podcast Consciously Healthy.

Contact & links:

General information: www.balancedwellness.co.uk

Free health advice: www.iwanttofeelbetter.co.uk

Free emotional support: www.radicalselflove.co.uk

Training information: www.functionalkinesiology.co.uk

Facebook & Instagram: ClaireSnowdon-Darling & @balancedwellnessuk

Tapping: can EFT really benefit our health?

Today’s post has been provided by London-based health coach and EFT Practitioner Karen Lucia.

EFT – also known as Tapping – is a healing technique that can be used to help clear emotional wounds and has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and promoting a more positive outlook.

Tapping is best learned with the support of a professional EFT practitioner, who will walk you through the steps and offer practices that you can employ by yourself after learning the fundamentals.

Keep reading to find out more about this incredible healing technique and how it can support your wellbeing – plus a simple tapping exercise you can do at home!

As energy healing is getting more and more mainstream interest, EFT is becoming more recognised as an effective therapy – although it is by no means a new modality. Tapping was first discovered in the 1970s but has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity as new scientific research as well as anecdotal evidence emerges that supports this unique holistic practice.

The history of EFT

In the 1970s, psychologist Dr Roger Callahan, who used a range of different techniques in his practice, made a breakthrough while working with a client that had a severe phobia of water.

The client described that when she thought of water, she would get a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. Because of his studies of acupuncture, Dr Callahan had an insight into what might be happening and asked the client to tap on the end of the stomach meridian – an energetic channel used by acupuncturists –located just below the eye, to see if it would ease the sensation in her belly.

It did, and when they went to the edge of a pool to test if anything had changed in the client’s feelings, the client noticed the fear and anxiety was gone – and it stays like that until this day.

Callahan went on to patent his discoveries and the therapy he developed was called TFT, Thought Field Therapy. TFT transformed his psychology practice completely, and it was highly effective but also overly complex and only accessible to therapists going through intensive training.

One of Callahan’s students was Gary Craig, an engineer and master of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), who simplified Callahan’s technique by adding some key NLP concepts, used fewer tapping points, and made it less complex. And so Emotional Freedom Techniques was born.

Craig was also the first to introduce EFT as a self-help tool and his method remains largely unchanged until today.

Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional Freedom Techniques is a method that involves tapping on the acupressure points of the face and upper body, along the meridian lines of Chinese medicine. It is a mind and body tool – an acupressure technique – that turns off or deregulates the stress response (flight or fight) that a person might experience when addressing  issues, feelings, sensations, or thoughts that provoke a fearful reaction. This stress response can present itself as physical pain, anxiety, anger, tension, overeating, etc.

Emotional Freedom Therapy

EFT, as in Emotional Freedom Therapy, is a talking therapy between a practitioner and a client, in which the tapping tool and other EFT techniques are used to work on general and specific issues such as anxiety, stress, confidence, fears, phobia, chronic pain, emotional eating, etc.

​In an EFT session, you tune into the negative patterns that we create around uncomfortable feelings, thoughts or troubling memories. While bringing these emotions or thoughts into consciousness the client taps on specific pressure points, which helps clients to find relief, relaxation and promotes healing around the emotional or physical issues that could be holding them back.

How does EFT work?

When we experience a negative event, thoughts, emotions, and sensations are triggered in the amygdala, which are then sent to the central nervous system (CNS).

The amygdala is a set of neurons in the medial temporal lobe (centre) of the brain and its key roles are:

  • Processing emotions
  • Survival instinct
  • Memory
  • Sexual activity and libido

The CNS is the part of nervous system that consists of the brain and the spinal cord; it controls most functions of the body and the mind, and is:

  • The centre of our thoughts
  • The interpreter of our external environment
  • The origin of control over our body movement

Through tapping, you clear blocks that are stuck in the nervous system, switch off or deregulate the stress response, and restore the energy balance in your body.

Try a practice exercise with me!

A simple EFT practice you can do at home

Tapping is an amazing and easy tool that can help you to take better care of yourself, anytime and anywhere. You do not need extensive knowledge or massive amounts of time to get going; you can simply start small by practising the points while gently addressing your feelings around issues that you are dealing with.

Step 1

Tap on each point about seven times, starting with the side of the hand – known as the karate-chop point. While tapping here, you create a ‘set up statement’ depending on what you want to address, for example, “Even though I feel stressed, I accept myself and how I feel.” Repeat this three times. You do this to expose the problem and set your intention to clear it.

Step 2

After setting up the tapping session, you tap continuously through the rest of the points while repeating any feelings or sensations that come up as you are thinking about or expressing your problem out loud, for example: “I feel so anxious”, “I feel out of control”, “I feel a knot in my stomach”, “I feel tension in my shoulders”, “This situation is so overwhelming”.

Do this for about three rounds, then take a deep breath and see if there is any change in how you are feeling – and acknowledge these changes.

Step 3

Continue with another round of tapping, if necessary, to clear whatever else has come up until you feel some relief and relaxation.

When you begin to feel better, finish with a round of positive tapping, such as: “I know I am strong and will get through this”, as a means of affirmation and to cement the positive work you have done.

Why do we include negative words and feelings while tapping?

A question that I often hear is why we use all the negative words/feelings while we tap, and if that might put more negativity in our minds; after all, the self-help space is usually all about affirmations and positive thinking. But just think of when you need to clean your kitchen: you would have to see the dirt first to know where to clean, right?

Well, it’s the same with EFT: you have to see which negative responses are being triggered to be able to switch them off, deregulate them or calm them down with tapping. This way the feelings and sensations will be released and will not stay stuck in your mind or your body.

You can, however, finish with one round of positive phrases while tapping in your self-practice, as it will leave you feeling powerful!

What can you expect from Tapping?

Honestly? Try not to expect anything specific but trust that you are working to make yourself feel better. When the body starts to shift negative energy, there is a possibility that you will have to yawn, stretch, laugh, move, shake, yell, pee – but often you will just feel a sense of calmness.

Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel a shift or a change straight away. Sometimes you will feel the change later, or you will need to do some more of the work to be able to discover what it is, exactly, that you are feeling as we often bury things deep inside ourselves.

Always approach it in a gentle way and be kind to yourself!

About the contributor

I work as a Health Coach and EFT Practitioner, I’m based in London, and come from a creative background as a professional dancer.

With my passion for movement and fascination with the never-ending possibilities of the human body, my focus eventually shifted to helping women achieve a healthier body and one that they feel good in, so I started working as a strength and conditioning trainer, and studied clinical nutrition.

After a few years, I realised that the people who actually maintained their body transformation after the initial three to six months were the ones with the strongest mindset – or in other words, those who believed the most in the possibility of success.

That’s why I decided to study different techniques that can build and transform the mind, and from there I finally understood that awareness should be the place to start for any lasting modification of someone’s lifestyle. This translates into my work with clients as a style that combines education and coaching.

Contact Karen:

www.karenlucia.com

IG: @karenlucialc

FB: /karenluciacoach

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Energy medicine: myth or miracle? Can energy healing really improve wellbeing?

The term energy medicine is growing in popularity and credibility, with celebrities and scientists alike beginning to take the phenomenon more seriously.

Today’s blog tackles the vast subject of energy medicine: its potential for promoting wellbeing, how it works, and some of the techniques that are in use around the world today.

Keep reading to find out more about this incredible branch of complementary healthcare and whether it could increase your wellbeing.

Energy and the human body

Before we talk about energy medicine, let’s talk about the energy in our body. The body needs energy in order to operate – called bioelectricity. Often, when we spare a thought for how our body works, we think about the heart pumping blood and oxygen around, keeping us alive, but we fail to remember the role that energy plays in the amazing symphony of life that is the human body.

What is the heart rhythm? It’s an electrical current. Chemical interplay within the cells of the heart creates a positive charge; a current which discharges down the nerves and causes the muscles to contract, creating our heartbeat.

Likewise, the digestive system is powered by energy. The food we eat creates a chemical reaction which produces an electrical charge. What are calories? Calories are a unit of energy!

Energy means everything to brain function, too, since the brain’s primary job is to process and transmit information through electrical signals. In fact, the brain uses huge amount of energy, consuming about 20% – a fifth – of the entire body’s energy resources.

Hearing, for example, consumes a great deal of energy. As part of our survival mechanism, any delay in auditory processing could mean life or death – so the brain works hard to process electrical signals speedily and with the utmost precision, allowing you to take the appropriate action should there be a threat nearby.

Even at rest, the brain continues to process information, the neurons in constant communication. It’s our internal, ever-watchful sentry system.

In his book The Genie In Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine And The New Biology Of Intention, Dawson Church PhD, leading-edge scientist and award-winning author, says:

“A normal cell has an electrical potential of about 90 millivolts. An inflamed cell has a potential of about 120 millivolts, and a cell in a state of degeneration may drop to 30 millivolts. By entraining the electrical fields of the cells within its range to the magnetic pulses emitted by the PMS machine, cells can be brought back into a healthy range.”

What is energy medicine?

Since energy plays such a huge role in the healthy functioning of the human body, it makes sense that energy medicine is becoming a popular adjunct to traditional Western medicine.

Practitioners of energy medicine believe that our health and wellbeing is linked to the flow of energy within our bodies. The ‘New-Age’ tool works with the body’s natural energies and is thought to hold the potential not only to treat ill health but also to prevent it – although science is yet to prove this indisputably.   

The term ‘energy medicine’ is a broad description for alternative therapies such as energy psychology, Reiki, reflexology, EFT (also known as tapping), acupuncture and acupressure, and vibrational healing methods such as sound healing, crystal healing.

The ancient arts of yoga and qi gong also fall under this term, as they are rooted in the belief that energy alignment can heal the body, and their movements are designed to promote this.

How does it work?

There is growing evidence that a system of channels and vortices exist within the body which serve to transport and regulate the energy flow around our system. These have been documented for thousands of years within traditional Chinese medicine; the idea is that these channels can be accessed and the energies manipulated for the benefit of our health and wellbeing.

Many people have heard of the chakras: these are vortices of energy which form part of this network of energy. There are also meridians, which are channels through which energy flows.

Complementary therapies such as acupuncture and acupressure work on the theory that these energy flows in the body, when unimpeded, promote good health. Reiki, a Japanese healing technique, EFT etc. also work on this principle.

Western science is finally beginning to indicate that these subtle energy channels do, indeed, exist. They have now been identified and termed the ‘primo vascular system’, and research into the meridians, their functions and the validity of energy medicine continues.

Is there any proof?

Research into the efficacy of energy medicine is in its nascent stages, relatively speaking; however, there is increasing evidence around its benefits.

Only recently, a U.S. study by the Indiana University School of Medicine, in collaboration with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, showed that addressing the energy levels within the nerve fibres of people suffering from spinal cord injury could boost regeneration and functional recovery – this could have a profound impact on patients who suffer spinal cord injury in the future.  

A scientific paper published in 2010 found that biofield therapies, as energy medicine is also known as, showed strong evidence for reducing pain intensity in pain populations and moderate evidence for decreasing negative behavioural symptoms in dementia, as well as decreasing anxiety in hospitalised populations and also, potentially, in cardiovascular patients.

And a more recent 2019 trial into the large-scale effectiveness of Reiki found that there were significant improvements in depression, anxiety, pain and tiredness in subjects who received the treatment.

You can find lots of anecdotal evidence, as well as scientific papers on the subject of energy medicine on the internet.

Conclusion

We often talk of having low or no energy, feeling good or bad vibes, and of feeling “drained” (of energy).

The English language often references energy, perhaps as a reflection of our innate but long-forgotten knowledge of the significance of energy in supporting good health.

Western and Eastern views of the human body and models of healing have historically been poles apart. Now, it seems, that the chasm is beginning to close.

While we’re used to taking care of aspects of our health such as our heart and cardiovascular system; perhaps it’s time to spare a thought for the health of our energy system?

Energy medicine is a huge subject and this article only skims the surface. Donna Eden is a leading authority on energy medicine; along with her spouse, David Feinstein, PhD – a clinical psychologist – she has designed world-leading courses and a wealth of resources on the subject of energy medicine. You can find out more about the subject at her website.

Look out for more blogs in the coming weeks on energy medicine and the different modalities you could use alongside your regular healthcare practices and support your health.

Note: this is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Do refer to your GP if you have any health concerns, and seek the advice of a qualified health professional before trying any new treatments and/or if you have any doubts.

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