*Note from A Chronic Voice: Sally first contacted me when I expressed curiosity and interest towards essential oils on social media. She kindly offered to send some free samples (which I’ve featured in this post), and also agreed to an interview! She shares her knowledge of their benefits both for everyday usage, and as a complementary therapy for chronic illnesses. There is still so much to learn from nature, and we’ve only grasped the tip of what she has to offer. I’ve learned a lot from Sally, and I hope you find her insight valuable too!
1. Hi Sally, let’s begin with a short introduction on your background/history, and how essential oils became an important part of your health and life.
I’ve done a lot of cool things in my life. Raised 3 beautiful girls, lived in Italy, made amazing friends. And then *BAM* in 2010 I broke my wrist, and had a horribly bad experience with it not healing properly. Somewhere in the stress of that, rheumatoid arthritis was triggered. It hit hard and fast. From a painful joint in my hand that we could not figure out, all the way to swollen everything and barely able to walk up my stairs in less than six weeks.
As is true for many of us, I didn’t have a very good first rheumatologist: dismissive, unconcerned, and definitely not interested in listening to me. The meds he gave me made me sicker, and didn’t do much for the pain. I began to fall deeper and deeper into sadness, guilt, and depression. I was constantly in a fog; thinking clearly was next to impossible, and the exhaustion so strong that getting through the day was misery.
A good friend of mine had begun using oils for some different issues, but began bringing me information on oils that could benefit me. There was a lot of info, and I freely admit I was very dismissive at first. I honestly didn’t think there was anything that could do any good for me. I finally gave in because she was SO persistent and found that yes, indeed, they could help me. I started using frankincense because that was the main oil Kelli kept tell me about. Within a week or so, I noticed my brain fog wasn’t as thick, my energy was enough that I didn’t doze off in the middle of doing something – enough that I knew I needed to learn more.
That sparked an interest in essential oils, but also in diet, exercise, supplements – a balanced approach that my new (and amazing) rheumatologist was completely on board with. My health has improved dramatically over the past few years, which led folks to approach me, asking for help. From that, Hope Health Healing was born.
2. Wow that’s an interesting life story for sure! I’ve always dreamt of living in Italy, how was that like? (I’m asking this more for selfish reasons than for the benefit of the blog ;))
And that’s very interesting. Only one week for the frankincense oil to make a difference? How much did you use and how did you use this (topical/diffuser/ingestion)? What was the biggest before and after difference that made you sit up and notice?
My husband was in the military – so we were on a post, but it was awesome. Lots of history, wonderful people and food. We did a lot in the military installation but got out in the community too. We homeschool so it was simple to take off whenever.
For the frankincense – I use a drop or two under my tongue every morning. You do need to be mindful of brand/quality when using internally, and it is a personal choice. Topical and aromatic can also be beneficial but I feel like using sublingually gets it in my system super fast.
Brain fog was the biggest thing I noticed initially. Just that little bit gave me the ability to think clearer. Second was an increase in energy. Not crazy-espresso energy, but a calmer ability to get more accomplished. It was enough to make me want to learn more.
3. Yea I do get a bit apprehensive about consuming any essential oils. I mean, the instructions on the bottles are mostly for topical or aromatic. What are the general guidelines for knowing when an oil is safe for consumption?
There are some different schools of thought on aromatherapy out there. You’ll come across people that say ABSOLUTELY no ingestion, and others that are more moderate. You do need to make sure the oils are of good quality. Many lower priced brands are not exactly what they are labeled to be.
There’s a facebook group that focuses on testing different brands for their purity. With doTERRA, the testing is extensive, so I’m confident in the quality. They have a medical advisory board that has discussed safety and ingestion at length. I am comfortable with it – obviously being smart about quantity and which oils I’m consuming. It’s funny – I gave more pause to this than I did the medications that were completely destroying my system.
(P.s. How cute is the handwritten note?!)
4. From what I understand, you’re affiliated with doTERRA? Would you say that if we wanted to try ingesting an oil, we can use a doTERRA one for that?
Speaking of which, how many medical treatments did you try before turning to alternative therapies such as essential oils?
Yes, I first just starting using oils to get my health back. After I was feeling better and starting helping others, I began to sell and educate people about doTERRA oils. Many of doTERRA oils are safe for ingestion. The bottles are clearly labeled with supplement facts when internal use is safe and appropriate.
I ran through quite a few – plaquenil, methotrexate, prednisone, and also various biologics such as enbrel, humira orencia, xeljanz, and now actemra. I’m down to just the actemra. Oils are great because in almost all cases you can use them (and supplements) along with western meds. My rheumatologist has been very supportive.
5. That’s great to know as doTERRA is a pretty recognised brand worldwide! I am currently experimenting with various brands as even the same oil can smell quite different. I’ll keep that in mind if I ever want to try ingesting!
And would you credit being able to come off plaquenil, methotrexate, prednisone, etc (it’s both comforting and sad that I know what they are) directly to the usage of essential oils, or a combination of factors?
Definitely a combination of factors. Diet – eliminating trigger foods, increasing hydration, eating more anti-inflammatory foods.
Exercise – even at simple levels (walking in the pool is how I started), using supplements (omegas, antioxidants, probiotics), and then oils to help soothe and support body systems. It’s kind of a package deal.
6. Are essential oils a suitable form of therapy for any kind of illness, you think? Or are there certain cases where they should be avoided?
I think oils have a place in nearly everyone’s life. As we’ve talked about, there are cases when certain oils need to be avoided. Oil education is important. High grade oils are powerful, so we need to treat them with respect and learn about them. It really is simple to learn though. A few good reference books and you’re all set. Having a community is helpful as well. I’m part of a couple amazing groups along with my own for people I work with.
7. That’s great! Which are the groups you’d recommend to those who’d like to learn more about essential oils in relation to managing chronic pain?
Yes in my case, I can’t use blood thinning oils as it’d be ‘like an overdose on your meds’, as you mentioned. This unfortunately, prevents me from trying a lot of alternative therapies, not just essential oils.
I have one group that’s public, Finding Hope & Healing with Chronic Illness, where I share a lot of info. The other main groups I utilize are private (for wholesale account holders).
8. Do you recommend mixing the oils or just using one each time? For example, is diffusing just one type of oil more potent than mixing it with others, even at the same dosage?
I have quite a few blends that I use very regularly. Some are purchased blends, and others are combinations I put together. We share a lot of those tips and recipes in the group. There’s a grounding blend called “Balance” that I use all the time for keeping me focused and settled. “Deep Blue” is another popular option for soothing muscles and joints.
9. From what I understand, many oils share similar functions. For example, there are many different kinds of oils you can use for relaxation. Are there any differences that would make one better for me than the other, or is it just a matter of scent preference?
Do you have a personal favourite and least favourite scent, and why?
I think it comes down to a couple things, one of which definitely is personal scent preference. The other is our unique body chemistry. We can react differently to oils. For example, my daughter uses “Wild Orange” for digestive needs – I love “Wild Orange”, but “Peppermint” or the “Digestzen” blend works better for me.
Another example – although it is a go-to relaxing scent for most people, I do NOT like the scent of lavender. However, I love how quickly it works to soothe burns and bites, so I’ll use it. I choose more woodsy scents for de-stressing and relaxing.
We have a blend called “Balance” that is mix of Spruce Needle/Leaf, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy Flower, and Blue Chamomile. It’s probably my all time favorite blend. I use it daily to stay centered and grounded.
10. That’s interesting, as it’s a similar concept with perfumes which helps me to ‘get it’ a little better. For example, rose sits well with my body chemistry and lasts all day, whereas it usually disperses quickly for others.
Along that vein, are there specific spots on your body to apply certain kinds of oils for best effect?
Topically, it’s good to go to the area of concern if possible (if my shoulder is sore, I apply there. If my stomach is upset, the abdomen is perfect). OR if it’s a systemic issue or you’re just not quite sure where to apply, then pulse points (so it’s absorbed and distributed throughout your body quickly) or the bottom of your feet. Feet work well in conjunction with reflexology, along with the fact that your skin there is tougher, so there are fewer sensitivity issues.
11. Good to know! What are some good go to oils for various kinds of pain? For example, nerve pain due to fibromyalgia, or inflammation in Lupus? Also, inflammation in Lupus can manifest in different organs of the body for everyone. For example, it might affect the skin of one person, the kidneys of another, and in my case, the brain, joints, muscles, blood and who knows where else it’s been! Is diffusing an anti-inflammatory oil for general purpose useful for them all?
There are so many options for soothing discomfort. For nerve – many people find benefit with the Balance blend and Aromatouch blend. If we were to look at individual oils, Peppermint, Basil, Lavender, Marjoram, and Cypress come to mind.
Lupus is similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis in that RA also manifests itself in all kinds of different ways. There are again many options, but I would say using Frankincense, Wintergreen, Marjoram, Eucalyptus, Peppermint topically on feet or pulse points would help systemically. The Deep Blue blend or our DDR Prime blend would be other good choices.
I feel like topical would be a better application than aromatic for the purpose of a healthy inflammatory response. Not that there wouldn’t be benefit, but I think you’d see the most results from either topical or internal use. Regardless, our bodies are smart, so the oil will do its thing. It’ll get where it needs to go 🙂
12. Yes, our bodies are definitely amazing beings full of intelligence 🙂 To wrap this interview up I’ll ask a few final questions! Can you ‘overdo’ essential oils, and are there different limits for different oils?
A little goes a long way – you generally only need a drop or two. So yes, you can overdo it. n most cases it would take A LOT for you to overdo it to the point of being dangerous, and certainly different oils have different points of that. I think that it is simple enough though, to be mindful of using a small amount. Using a little more often is much more effective than using a lot all at once anyway.
13. In Chinese medicine for example, a lot of the treatments are cumulative in effect. This is as opposed to Western medicine say for example, painkillers, where its efficacy decreases from time of ingestion. Where would you say the usage and benefits of oils fall on this spectrum?
This is my opinion, but the longer I’ve used oils, the more beneficial I feel they’ve become. I believe that since the oils work at improving cellular health, it stands to reason that the more we use them, the healthier we are. We build a strong foundation by using something that works with our body.
14. How important are carrier oils when applying topically? Are they necessary, and how do you choose the best one for yourself?
In most cases, it’s wise to dilute with a carrier oil. It allows a small amount of oil to spread over a large area, reduces skin sensitivity issues, and slows down the evaporation rate of the essential oil.
Fractionated coconut oil is a common choice. it stays shelf stable for a long time, absorbs quickly into the skin, and offers some of its own health benefits. There are many different kinds though – avocado oil, almond oil, apricot kernel oil just to name a few. They all have their own unique benefits. I like avocado oil because it works really well with my skin.
15. Do you have some good resources we can look at to understand the science behind it better?
16. Finally, is there anything I missed out or that you would like to add?
Essential oils are an incredible resource for us. I love that they can be easily used in conjunction with medications and I love that more and more physicians are open to learning and helping their patients utilize the power of natural options. The other thing that is amazing is that it is easy to learn about them. It’s empowering that we can have these resources at our disposal. In the U.S., our society has gotten progressively less healthy. Hopefully the current popularity of oils will continue and cause our overall health and wellness to take a turn for the better.
I’ve enjoyed chatting and sharing oil information. I’m happy to continue the conversation with anyone who would like to learn more.
*Note: This interview is meant for educational purposes, and is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding new treatment protocols.
If you liked this article, sign up for our mailing list here so you don’t miss out on our latest posts!