Buzz surrounding essential oils: Are they for you?

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s nothing new, but essential oils seem to be getting a lot of attention lately.

Essential oils are made up of concentrated liquids from plants. Although they’ve been around for thousands of years, it’s recently been getting a lot of buzz.

“It’s one of the number one growing complementary therapies,” said Jackie Koekkoek, a medical acupuncturist at Mercy Health.

Koekkoek said she’s not surprised and has been using essential oils for years.

“I think people are looking for different ways to take care of their body. More natural ways and more complementary ways to taking some of the thinking out of it. And putting in a little bit of faith in the way we used to do it in the olden days,” said Koekkoek.

That’s what drew Shelby Paulk, a mother of five, into using essential oils in her home. That and a really rough year when she spent $4,000 out of pocket on trips to the pediatrician in just 6 months.

She diffuses them into the air in her home and mixes them with a carrier oil like olive oil, and puts them directly on the skin.

“I noticed a huge change. That’s why we love oils now. It helped keep my kids healthy so now we use them daily,” said Paulk.

But before diving head first into essential oils you have to do your homework. There isn’t any FDA approval and these oils are concentrated and strong.

Koekkoek recommends examining three main things:

  1. Purity. Are there any synthetics added and what part of the plant does the oil come from?
  2. Application. Special care should be taken with the youngest and oldest among us. Make sure you’re properly diluting your oils
  3. Dosage.

“You want to make sure that each of your essential oils come with a material safety data sheet which is going to tell us about some of the toxicity in the oils and how to use them,” said Koekkoek.

What started out as way to cut out chemicals and keep her family healthy has turned into a nice paycheck for Paulk too. She says Facebook is the main way she’s sharing information and learning from others about how to incorporate essential oils into daily life.

“It’s been a little bit of a learning curve, I think in the beginning. But if you can incorporate it into your everyday life I think its something you can use and will benefit your family,” said Paulk

One of the most effective ways to apply essential oils is diluted and then rubbed on the bottom of feet. That’s because there are 800 pores per square inch on the bottom of feet, but feet are also rough which allows for quick absorption that can prevent any type of allergic reaction from the strength of the oil.

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