My high school was in a very rural area, to say the least. There was the Dairy Queen, the Piggly Wiggly (more commonly known as the Hoggly Woggly), the Iron Skillet, the Ward's, and the square around the school circled endlessly each morning by teenagers in big trucks. Everything had a "the" in front of it...which, I am sure you all know full well, is the hallmark of the quintessential Small Southern Town.
And there was the Oil Queen Pageant. Our little city was known as the "Oil Capital of Alabama" and so the school's annual beauty pageant was named to honor this interesting fact. It was, as it is in any Southern high school holding such events, a great honor to be crowned the Oil Queen. Or "Erl Queen," as those of us on the yearbook staff (because of course I was) affectionately dubbed it.
Lately I feel like I'm right back in the "erl" capital, as ev-er-y-bo-dy and their mama is going on about these essential oils on Facebook. And by lately I mean the past two-ish years. Today's post is all about what I really think about "dem erls," because two years later I'm all edgy and timely like that. But mostly because someone asked me what I thought. So here goes...
I do have some Big Thoughts about these erls, and they are five-fold.
1. I think it is awesome that people are into the all-natural. There are an awful lot of nasties in our world, friends...some we can't eliminate and some we can. It is really smart and wonderful of the oilers to be conducting some real research about ways to benefit their families other than prescription or OTC meds. Because sometimes enough is enough with all these meds in our US of A.
2. I think that these erls are not new. I have been hearing my crunchy friends talking about the benefits of these oils for years. What I find most interesting is that while they are happy to see the oils take off, they are positively disgusted at the wake left behind by the multi-tiered marketing approach. First, the two biggest companies (and if you're an erl-er, you know...if you're not, you don't even care) charge too much. They charge too much. Don't talk to me about organic and cold pressing and steaming the nutrients. I have done plenty of research on this and there are other, smaller companies who used the exact same methods, are still christened organic and wonderful and all that and a bag of veggie chips, and these companies charge a fraction of the price. They're also family owned and operated. In a for-real mom and pop store way, not a Heinz ketchup way. Second, there is such significant and rapid growth that people are taking these things into their homes without a sound understanding of the potency of the oils. Or that some are not safe for kids. Or that some are not safe for pregnant women. Or that some are not good for pets or people with asthma or diabetics or those with kidney issues...and on and on. There is a reason why aromatherapy certification exists, folks. Instead, the eagerness to use this $150 kit supersedes the ignorance of the average person in how dangerous the contents of those little bottles can be. Some of the popular oils are labeled on natural/home remedy sites as "possibly carcinogenic." Dem erls might be completely natural, but they aren't completely harmless. We have to do better about conducting our own thorough research, people.
3. I think that, because of the expense, dese erls of ours are a passing fad. Like gluten-free, paleo, oxygen bars, Atkins, and the stupid kale, these oils are another human attempt to find the magic bullet that we can put into our bodies to solve all our first world problems. For some people the oils provide what boils down to a very expensive placebo effect. As with anything, there will always be people totally sold out and committed to the cause, but my prediction is that the obsession will fade.
4. I think that some people are worshiping these oils. Especially for those of us who are believers, anything more about the creation than the Creator is not going to be okay. Also, it makes me uncomfortable to hear people say things like "I healed my/my child's (whatever) with just a few drops of (insert oil)." Those words have never been said by a mom who stuck some Neosporin and a bandaid on a kid's cut, though the end result would be the same. Instead, there is something about these erls that are causing people (mostly women) to draw a significant sense of empowerment from them. We need to take a long, hard look at why we are craving the sense of empowerment and control that can be provided by a substance in a bottle. Even if it is natural.
So, now that I've ticked off everybody on Facebook...
5. Honestly, in spite of all that, I really think the oils are okay. I use dem erls! The Captain takes great joy in calling them "snake oils," but even he will admit their usefulness. Recently he has been perfecting a beard oil blend, so all you out there with the face bush or are married to/sick of snogging the face bush, gimme a holla.
Specifically, the Thieves blend is one of our favorites because we make hanitizer with it and it has also been really, drastically helpful with relieving tooth ailments of both The Captain and Sassafras. As for me, I like the Peace & Calming Blend because I struggle with insomnia and notice that it really does consistently help me get to sleep and stay there when I diffuse it at my bedside. The Panaway blend has been wonderful lately with easing some muscular issues...and provided tons of relief for The Captain after a recent softball injury. Without providing enough fodder to embarrass the fool out of my children, I'll just add that the Purification blend has also been marvelous in helping de-stank-i-fy some child-related items and events in the Casa de Wilson. Lavender, lemon, and peppermint are my favorite single oils because, honestly, I can't mess them up. They are good for pretty much everything. Coconut, olive, and avocado oils are our favorite carriers (which is what you mix the essential oils with to dilute them a bit). I'm preparing some recipes now for homemade hair and skin products using raw shea butter, coconut oil, and a few of the oils for Pearl as well as myself.
So they're magical, right? Well, no. There are several promoted uses for the oils that we have tried that, frankly, didn't work at all. One example is that I've tried a few different suggested regimens and none have ever relieved allergy/sinus issues or minor headaches. The Captain tried ingesting some lavender/lemon/peppermint mix several days to see if it would fix his annual spring sinus clog, but the only effect he noted was burping flowers all day. I couldn't tell you if they boost our immunity because we're pretty healthy people, thank the Lord. A drop of peppermint in my water had no effect on my acid reflux. And rubbing the oils on our feet, though it is a sweet bedtime routine and it feels really nice and ok, totally prevents some major crackage down there...well, that doesn't do anything that is promised by the erl descriptions.
Perfect healing? No.
Still, they're not bad, these essential oils. I don't think they're bad at all, I just think people's crazy obsession with them is. So for what it's worth, that's what I think about dem erls.