Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why I Am "Suddenly" Carrying Essential Oils In The Store.

I get a lot of questions and comments about why I am "suddenly" carrying essential oils in the store.  So I thought I'd take a minute and answer a few of the questions and comments I've been getting lately, and let you in on why I decided to carry these oils in the store.
I've been getting a lot of comments like, "Oh you are starting to do essential oils too now?"  or "What made you suddenly start carrying essential oils in your store?"  or "did you learn about essential oils from _______" (insert the name of any number of local or not so local essential oil users.)  "Since you are just getting into using oils too you might be interested in ________." (insert a website, or book.)

So why am I "just now" getting into essential oils?  Well the truth is I'm not!  Those that know me well know this has been an almost life long passion of mine.   I've been using oils both medicinally and for skin care for over 15 years.  I've studied, traveled, and used oils from distillers who are operating out of their backyard all the way to multi million dollar companies who are distilling oils.  I have used oils from small backyard distillers claiming no grand benefits to their oils all the way up to companies claiming their oils are the only pure oils available in the world.   I have formulated oil blends for hundreds of individuals for various issues, as well as working with many mom's developing blends that are safe and effective when used on babies.  My "closeted" interest and study of essential oils and skin care migrated from a quiet hobby to a business when my mother got cancer and asked me to make natural skin care products for her delicate skin.  She wasn't exactly quiet about her love of what I created for her, and told friends and family, which then told people, and soon I was getting calls and emails from people all over the country asking about my skin care products.  Am I an "expert?"  Nope!  But I do have a lot of experience from working with oils and skin care for many years now.
My passion in addition to actually formulating products is taking things that seem complicated, and helping others understand how to use them for every day issues.  Not just helping them understand what they do, but more importantly WHY, the products do what they do.  When we know "why" we can make much wiser choices about "how" to use products.  I enjoy writing about all types of natural skin care, and have been published in various magazine and journals.  I'm not writing this to "toot my own horn" but just to give you a sense of the amount of time, energy, and devotion I have put into this subject.  I am not just starting out on this journey.  I have spent years traveling this road and am now branching out and sharing my journeys with you all.
My mode of choice, is usually the behind the scenes, the quiet type, formulating or blending behind locked doors, and sharing my knowledge and creations only with those who ask.
So what has changed?  Well, that question has multiple answers.

When I first opened the store here in Potlatch, I really wanted to do a large skin care section, with DIY products for people to experiment with and learn with.  Teaching classes, promoting my website and research etc.  So, when I opened I stared talking to various local people about skin care and essential oils, and incorporating this into my store.  I was mostly met with odd stares, and questioning looks.  The responses I got ranged from "you do WHAT?  How do you MAKE your own skin care line?" to "essential oils are a scam, good luck with that."  The quizzical looks, and "wow you are a geek" comments were quite amusing!  So after quite a bit of talking and asking around, I decided that it just was not the time to add these things to the store.  Without sounding trying to sound down on northern Idaho, or other rural areas, the fact is that it takes some time for things to catch on up here.  In some areas we are a bit behind the times, but that's ok, there are many wonderful things about rural communities that make up for any lag time we have with trends.  And honestly being a little behind the trends can be a pretty good thing a lot of the time!  I couldn't love this area more! (unless it was hot for 3/4 of the year!)  The people are so wonderful and supportive, and having a business here has been a sheer delight!

Last year was when I really started working on my plans again for this "natural" section of my store.  I had noticed a changing "mood" in the town and surrounding areas about natural skin care and herbal oils and products.  Even some of the people that I talked to three years ago about essential oils, who just looked at me with pity that I would "believe" in something like that, had now become avid users of essential oils, much to my delight!  Also, after Hudsen was born, and I began using many of the "potions" I had made for my baby sister, or other people's children on him, it lit my fire again for doing what I'd wanted to do in the store from the start.
But things take time, and with the store, a new baby, and lots of other life challenges I was not expecting, things just drug out longer than I thought they would.  But finally, it's here!  The "natural corner" I've wanted to have for so long is up and running!  Of course there will be many more "add ons" as the weeks go by, but it is a good start!  And I believe the time is right.  I believe people are open and searching for natural solutions to skin and other health issues, and open to learning more.

 But with the openness, and "popularity" rising, so is the mis-information.  Particularly online.  This is always the case as well meaning, (and sometimes some not so well meaning) people promote ideas and experiences that are exaggerated, misleading, or downright false.  And essential oils is no exception to that curse.
And this brings me to the reason I am now being far more vocal about my knowledge and experiences with natural skin care and essential oil use than I have ever been in the past.  The popularity of using essential oils is rising, unfortunately out of proportion to quality education.  Because essential oils are "natural" people think they are harmless and similar to using whole herbs.  This is quite far from the truth.  And while I am not claiming to be an expert on using essential oils, I think my experience and knowledge can shed some light on some of the mis-information being promoted out there.
Because of my interest in the chemistry side of skin care and essential oils, I have been very involved in research about not simply "what" essential oils do, but "why."  I don't want a book that tells me lavender will "relax" me.  I want to know what chemical constituants does lavender posses that might have this effect on me?  There are so many books, websites, classes, and blogs stating willy nilly what essential oils "will do" for you.  In my opinion most of them are exaggerated, or quite simply downright mis-leading about the actual properties of essential oils and what they can do for the human body.  For example, stating an essential oil has been found in lab studies to kill certain types of cancer, can be quite misleading.  While not outright saying so, it  promotes the idea that essential oils will kill cancer IN YOUR BODY.  However, cancer cells in a dish being killed by an essential oil is in no way indicative of whether that same oil in small quantities in the human body will have a similar effect.  These mis-representations of the abilities of essential oils on diseases are dangerous and downright fraud in my opinion.  And I'm not just making statements.  My mother was one of those unfortunate enough to believe that certain oils and other natural products would kill her cancer.  And it cost my mother her life.  Now can I know she would have lived had she had traditional medical treatment?  Absolutely not.  But what I do know, is the false hope and assurance that these claims gave her caused her to not get diagnosed until it was too late.  She felt "if it is cancer, what I am doing is killing it, because studies have shown these oils, and supplements kill cancer.  So I don't need to get tested and see if is or isn't cancer."  So I am not just spouting off the danger of this over exaggerated information because I think it MIGHT mislead someone.  I know it does.  Natural remides are NEVER a substitue for proper diagnosis or treatment.  While I respect that everyone has the choice to the treatment options of their choice, whether natural or traditional, diagnosis is a MUST.  And self diagnosis for anything more than a minor skin irritation is often not wise.  Treating yourself for an unknown illness with oils or herbs can lead to masked symptoms and further degeneration.  Also, this type of exaggeration and mis-information is a turn off to educated people who see the fallacies inherent in the logic used.  I am not meaning to imply that anyone who believes this hype is not educated.  Denial and hope can be very powerful things that get in the way of our better judgement.  Please be wise!

Now I know many people don't want to be bored with all the "facts" about the chemistry of oils etc. but just want to know what the oil is "good for."  And I can understand this type of thinking for those who have incredibly busy lives like I do, so I will attempt to share my research and findings with you all through this facebook page.   But while this type of thinking is somewhat understandable coming from those who just want to use the oils for themselves and their families, it is (in my opinion) inexcusable in educators.  While an in depth knowledge of chemistry and biology are by no means necessary, knowledge about why oils do what they do is not too much to ask from someone who is promoting the use of oils or attempting to educate others in any way.  Can you tell I am very passionate about this subject?  My blood boils when I see facts twisted or misrepresented to pad the pockets of large (or even small) companies.  Or just from excited people who are full of "testimonies" with a blatant disregard for the facts, or those who claim to be "educated" but sadly have a very biased view because their education has come only from essential oil companies that stand to profit from what they are teaching.   They give essential oils, and other natural supplement companies a bad name, and give people false hope, as well as putting them in danger either by their lofty claims, or the false confidence they instil by claims to education that is at the least biased and at the most insufficient.  (I am primarily referring to online information here.)
In fact, this issue is why I hesitated to carry any essential oils in my store at all.  I am so passionate about essential oils and proper education, I was fearful that if I carried oils in my store, my research and knowledge would be discounted by people who might decide that I am saying things simply because I have something to gain by it.  I'm afraid of comments like "of course she is saying this or that brand is better or worse, she has something to gain by it!" or "she is just trying to promote "her" oils."   Despite this, I decided I should be able to offer essential oils since I am promoting their use, and educating people on them, so I finally decided (with lots of prompting from my husband) to sell essential oils at the store.  However I will continue as always to promote education on how to use essential oils, without promoting one particular brand.  Are there reasons I choose the brand I did?  Absolutely!  Is it the ONLY brand that is safe and pure?  Absolutely not.  Aromatherapy has been around for far too long to imagine that one company holds the monopoly on purity.

So, am I just starting out with essential oils?  No.  But I have decided that it is time I become a bit more vocal about them.  This is way out of my comfort zone because I don't like stirring up controversy, and usually am a "live and let live" type of person.  But I do love helping people, and  I see a tremendous need in this area of essential oils, and if I can be of help in educating people I will be extremely delighted and blessed.

Warning: please don't read my blogs or the posts on my essential oils facebook page "Essential Oils Education" if you are easily offended by conflicting opinions or if you are extremely brand loyal.  I don't promote loyalty to particular brands, and I'm sure there will be lots of facts that may conflict with some of the more popular philosophies about essential oils.  I will also be giving honest reviews of essential oil companies from time to time, and refuting false claims.  But most importantly I wil be focusing on essential oil use, education, science, biology, and dangers and caution of using essential oils.  I am not big into "fluffy" posts about oils and their many claimed uses, or grand testimonials about oils changing people's lives.  I do believe oils can change people's lives, but I choose to focus more on my passion, which is why and how oils work.  Really.  Scientifically.  Some of you may find it a bit dry and boring.  That's ok.  I understand I am a bit odd in my approach to oils, and understand that the "fluffy" approach can be much more enticing.  And once in a while I'll try to include some of the more "fluffy" side of using essential oils, because there is no doubt it's fun to hear about!  But I hope if you are skeptical about using essential oils, and all the grand claims you may have heard about them, some of the information I bring to light will help you come to the conclusion that there is something to it... just maybe not all the "somethings" you've heard.  :-)

So to conclude, I am so delighted and blessed to be able to share with you about this subject I am so passionate about.  And I want to give a huge thanks to all the people who have pushed and pulled and clawed me out of my shell to get me to the point where I would even attempt to share on this subject in a public forum like this.  To my dear friends (you know who you are!) and to my wonderful hubby, you have given my voice wings.  I know it has been a huge task, and without you I have no doubt I would still be quietly formulating in a back room somewhere.  So thank you all, and if this new venture goes wrong it is all your fault.  (just kidding!)

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