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Benefit from nature's healing powers
by Cynthia Petersen Correspondent · February 27th, 2017

You've heard of the healing power of the aloe vera plant, haven't you? My mother kept a live plant on the counter in the kitchen, and if she was burned while cooking, she would just snip off a tip of the leaf and rub it on the burn. Not only did it take away the sting, but it healed faster, too.

Most people know this little trick, especially if they get burned a lot. However, many still do not know the benefits that other plants offer, such as lavender, oregano, lemon, and peppermint.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to heal and ease pain, but it wasn't until 1910 that the secrets of the oils have been truly revealed.

According to, French chemist Rene Gattefosse was working in the laboratories of the cosmetics firm his family owned. He burned his hand during an experiment and plunged it into the nearest tub of liquid, which just happened to be lavender oil.

Gattefosse's hand healed so quickly and with little scarring, that he became fascinated with essential oils. This inspired him to experiment with them during the World War I on soldiers in the military hospitals. He used lavender, thyme, lemon, and clove oils for their antiseptic properties. The chemist saw an increase in the rate of healing in wounds treated with essential oils and that the oils seemed to be free from the disadvantages present with other antiseptics that were currently being used.

And even though Gattefosse's work showed significant improvements in the healing of wounds and easing of pain with the oils, it wasn't until the 1990s that more people became intrigued with the oils, a more natural alternative to traditional medicine.

Some of the oils used in aromatherapy include chamomile, geranium, lavender, tea tree, lemon, cedarwood, and bergamot. Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. They are often combined to create exactly what the body requires for each ailment, including joint pain, sleeplessness, digestive problems, headaches, and skin problems.

Aromatherapy can also have an impact on pain. Certain scents activate smell receptors in the nose, which triggers a reaction in the nervous system. This, in turn, stimulates the part of your brain that controls emotion, triggering the release of feel-good hormones, such as dopamine.

Marcie Ward, a local distributor for Young Living Essential Oils, said the company's goal is to educate the community about the use of essential oils and are doing this by holding classes and workshops, as well as provide information through social media.

"When I first got started with oils I honestly thought they were just to make my house smell good, and didn't understand the major benefits they could provide both physically and emotionally," she said. "Oils have empowered me as a mother to have a truly natural alternative to have on hands to soothe my children. After my first time using the blend 'Thieves,' something clicked. I researched the oils because I wanted to learn about these little bottles of plant juice and figure out how they worked. Pure essential oils speak for themselves. They are the lifeblood of a plant, the roots, leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds. These oils come from the fluid inside of the plant and are necessary for the plant to live. We can use these oils to bring balance back into the body."

Classes and workshops are held periodically in the community, including at Awaken Chiropractic, 2205 Blairsferry Crossing in Hiawatha. The next event will be held Wednesday, March 8, at 7:30 pm.

Awaken Chiropractic owner, Erica Christensen, said she initially became interested because her patients had been asking about them.

"I wanted to learn more before giving my opinion," she said. "The more I read, the more interested I became. As a chiropractor, our focus is on how to make the body heal and function at its absolute best without the use of drugs or surgery. Using essential oils just made sense as they work with the body and support different body systems and, similarly, try to aid the body in doing what it's already designed to do.

Erica said that while she knows there is a time and place for medications and doctors, more young families and young parents are starting to see medications and medical intervention as a "last resort."

"Many are looking for natural options to support their children's bodies and overall health, like essential oils and chiropractic care and good food, to try first. These things are part of a wellness lifestyle and involve being proactive about our health, supporting our bodies in any way we can, instead of waiting until things go bad. We offer a lot of informational workshops about essential oils, so people can become more informative about the oils."

For more information, visit or call Marcie at 319-430-8841.

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