What Are Essential Oils?

w/ Casey Von Iderstein of Karmic Wellness

I'm really excited for this post I'm about to share with you!  Because a lot of what I do at Otter Grooming Co. involves essential oils, I thought it would be important to talk about them in a little more detail.  That's why I was super excited when I found out that my friend Casey, one of the first people I met at Ithaca College, is now a holistic health coach, essential oils educator, and mindfulness teacher.  Her mission is to help people simplify and detoxify their life so they have the space and energy to live your purpose. Essential oils have so many great benefits. Essential oils for allergies  essential oils for headaches, essential oils for anxiety, and the list goes on and on. I hope you enjoy! - Matt

Essential Oils 101

Essential-OilsEssential oils – so hot right now. I know these little bottles of plant magic may seem like the latest wellness trend - but in truth, they were the first documented form of medicine, so they’ve got serious staying power.

Even if you’ve never intentionally used essential oils before, you’ve most definitely come into contact with them (maybe without even realizing it).  For example, if you’ve ever peeled an orange and smelled that incredibly fresh, gorgeous aroma that bursts from its skin, you’ve experienced them.

So, what are they? In a nutshell, essential oils are the natural aromatic compounds found in plants. They’re tiny organic molecules that are dedicated to keeping the plant healthy, protecting it from threats, and attracting pollinators for reproductive purposes.

They’re basically the superheroes of the plant world, and they’ve been used by humans for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits for centuries.

In terms of potency, they’re super concentrated - 50-70 times more powerful than dried herbs (i.e. 1 drop of peppermint essential oil = 28 cups of peppermint tea) - so a little bit goes a really long way.

They’re incredibly effective for supporting both physical and emotional health – and since plants and humans have similar building blocks, essential oils are in a familiar environment once they’re in our body. They have the ability to work synergistically with our cells, which means no side effects with proper recommended use, and no risk of dependency. Hooray!

Essential-OilsThey’re one of the most efficient, effective ways to get the mind and body back into the state of balance that they crave. My favorite thing of all? They work on the cellular level, getting right down to the root of the problem. So, instead of simply masking or managing symptoms and ignoring the root cause (like we’ve been taught to do with most conventional meds) – we can actually find relief from our symptoms while simultaneously addressing and resolving the problem where it started.

Essential oils are also super versatile because each one contains a variety of different (natural) chemical compounds, giving each single oil wide-ranging therapeutic benefits.  It constantly blows my mind to see how many different health concerns can be addressed by just one type of oil. They’re the ultimate multitaskers.

Personally, I use them to keep my immune system strong, balance hormones, repair and nourish my skin, boost detoxification, support healthy metabolism, reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and energy, elevate my mood, facilitate healthy digestion, soothe pain and tension, cleanse surfaces and the air in my home, lull me into a deep sleep, and so much more.

Now, how can you use these guys in your daily life? There are three ways of using pure therapeutic grade essential oils:


Essential oils, when diffused, can be very stimulating, while others can be calming and soothing. Diffusing essential oils can also cleanse and purify the air. You can also breathe them in directly from the bottle, or from the palms of your hands. Aromatic use is one of the fastest ways to change your emotional state (which then has positive ripple effects on your physical health).


Essential oils are easily absorbed by the skin and many can be safely applied topically when used in conjunction with a carrier oil, such as Fractionated Coconut Oil.  One drop of essential oil applied to the skin can enter your bloodstream within 30 seconds, and service every single cell in your body within 30 minutes. So wild!


Certain essential oils have a deep culinary history and can be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. Note: most brands of essential oils are not safe for internal use due to purity concerns, so be sure to do your research before ingesting essential oils to ensure your personal safety.

It’s important to note that not all essential oils are created equal (not by a long shot, actually), and since they’re completely unregulated, they’re not required to be tested for safety or effectiveness before they’re sold to consumers.  Many oils that you purchase online or from your local health store are adulterated, filled with additives, and can contain harmful pesticides and chemicals. Yikes!


Picking a brand that has super strict standards around purity, potency and sourcing methods is a must to ensure you’re reaping the intended benefits of the oils and avoiding adding more toxins to your system.  Before buying a bottle of essential oil, do your research to ensure that the particular brand you’re looking into is transparent about all of the above, and that they have consumer safety and wellbeing at the forefront of their mission.

I’m more than happy to help if you have questions or if you’re looking for personalized recommendations. I know essential oils are new territory for many people, and I always want to ensure people feel totally comfortable using them and get the absolute most out of these little bottles of plant magic. I can also hook you up with a sweet discount on the brand of essential oils that I personally use. Feel free to drop me a line at connect@karmicwellness.com if you’d like to connect!


Certified Holistic Health Coach | Essential Oil Educator | Mindfulness Teacher
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