2018-01-25 / Life in Leelanau

In Cedar, family finds benefits of essential oils

By Jen Murphy
Of The Enterprise staff


AS PART of his morning routine, Stacey Wilcox’s son, Charley, puts essential oils on his feet to support immunity. AS PART of his morning routine, Stacey Wilcox’s son, Charley, puts essential oils on his feet to support immunity. As one of the five senses, smell may not be considered as primary as sight or hearing.

It is sometimes referred to as the “fifth sense,” placing it right on the bottom of the list. However, it’s hardly non-essential. In fact, smells that pass through our noses are connected directly to the part our brain that controls mood, memory and behavior.

That’s one reason many Leelanau County residents rub or roll on, inhale and ingest the variety of scents offered by plant-derived essential oils.

In general, essential oils are applied to skin, inhaled or ingested to achieve therapeutic benefits. These benefits range from stress relief and relaxation to quieting symptoms of migraines, arthritis and inflammation.

Stacey Wilcox and her family in Cedar use them daily.

“I started using them when I learned that my son had respiratory issues. I started using them and reading,” Wilcox said. “We have been able to relieve his issues outside of Western medicine, like using a nebulizer. I thought, if I can keep these things from happening, I can make sure his breathing is safe. That was my ‘a-ha’ moment.”

Wilcox made sure her son’s doctor knew about her use of essential oils and keeps him informed, but she had resistance from family members.

“It was hard to persuade my parents that I wasn’t just making this up,” Wilcox said. “I asked them to try another option for themselves and see what happened.

“I understand it’s hard to wrap your mind around something that’s not Western medicine, but even just smelling them can change your mood and how you feel. There’s definitely a place for Western medicine, but when that’s not working, people look elsewhere.”

Aromatherapist Linda Bayer, owner of Bayer Essence Aromatherapy based in Northport, understands the benefits of essential oils well.

Bayer said essential oils help both emotionally and physically and that they have a variety of uses, but cautions against using them as a cure-all.

“Aromatherapy is complementary to western medicine,” she said. “If you have a serious condition, you’re not going to use essential oils and be healed. You need to consult with a doctor. But I had cancer, and essential oils helped with some of the symptoms.

“Doctors are pretty open-minded, I’ve found. But you have to share information, and don’t cut out the medical professionals.”

Studying and teaching about essential oils has been a passion of Bayer’s for more than 20 years. She discovered them in a small store, bought a book to read and her first bottle — citronella oil — and was hooked.

Bayer later became Michigan’s first aromatherapist registered with the Aromatherapy Registration Council.

“My favorite oil for someone to start with is lavender,” she said. “It’s calming, healing and settles the nerves. It’s an easy thing to start with.”

Another “go-to” for Bayer is peppermint oil. She explained that a bit of peppermint rubbed on the temples opens up the blood vessels that constrict and cause pain.

Although essential oils can be used by anyone, Bayer warned against pregnant women in their first trimester using them.

“All oils are different, and everyone reacts differently to the oils,” she said. “And pure, straight essential oil is extremely concentrated. I do not promote taking them internally unless you’ve had a chance to sit down with someone to help.”

Her advice to newbies is to start small.

“And when you do talk to an aromatherapist, follow the instructions they give you,” she said. “Don’t just take one smell and expect that to work.”

Want to learn more?

Bayer will teach a two-hour class focused on the basics of using essential oils at the Northport Arts Association on Feb. 1. Two sessions will be available: 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The class costs $15.

Wilcox will also give an intro to Young Living Oils class at the Cedar- Maple City Lions club on Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. The class is free to the public.

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