Combine the power of scent and the healing properties of plants and you’ll get a potent potion for everything from a racing mind to a race-induced leg cramp.
Realtors use the smell of baked cookies to sell homes. Animal attraction, even in humans can be traced back to scent. For thousands of years humans have been extracting essential oils from plants for both, medicinal and vanity purposes.
The Ancient Egyptians were the first to distill and create infused oils, but the biggest contributors to the science of scent were the Greeks. Physician Marestheus’ books discussed the positive and negative effects of wearing garlands of leaves and flowers while surgeon Dioscorides took things to another level. In 78 AD, he penned a five-volume text known as Materia Medica that became the standard on various uses of some 600 plants for the next 1,000 years.
Even Hippocrates – the Father of Modern Medicine – used essential oils medicinally after studying their effects on health.
However, the term aromatherapy wasn’t coined until the late 1920s by French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé. After a severe lab burn, the scientist reflexively doused his arm in lavender oil. The rapid, scar-free healing that followed peaked his interest in essential oils further and he published Aromathérapie: Les Huiles essentielles hormones végétales (Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy) in 1937.
Over time, the science of scent has revealed some amazing things. First, smell is subjective – though we tend to agree on what is “foul” and “fragrant,” we mostly describe smells differently. Second, the “imprinting” of odors means that certain scents will trigger memories of people, places and events for you, but not necessarily someone else (your grandmother’s perfume, for example).
Also, scents influence the body – essential oils help heal the body, mind and spirit, making them a natural choice for athletes.
Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils, like the doTERRA oils below, are extracted from plants and free from most of the serious side-effects of modern, synthetic medicines (although you could have allergies).
Whether you’re struggling with your breath, have ripped callouses, or experiencing sore joints and muscles after crushing your WOD, you may want to try using essential oils. Just be sure to check if the oils you are using can be ingested, applied to the skin or both.
Here are a few scent-sational suggestions to get you started:
You know the drill, you’re nearing the end of your workout and your lungs feel like they’re on fire. Take a whiff of peppermint oil applied to your wrists or add a drop to your water to clear your respiratory pathways.
FYI – you’ll definitely want to keep this essential oil away from sensitive body parts, especially your eyes. If you do accidentally give yourself an undiluted dose, apply fractionated coconut oil to the affected area instead of water for fast relief.
When the gym beats us up a little – bruised legs, rope burns, or even pre-workout jitters – lavender can help. A drop on your wrist quells anxiety and nausea while applying this anti-bacterial oil directly to a burn or bruise, aids healing.
This blend of several plant oils, like chamomile and wintergreen is especially good for soothing sore muscles and achy joints without harsh chemicals. Place a drop or two on the affected area or massage into the bottom of your feet (all this and a foot massage!) to enjoy the cooling sensation.
Aroma Touch is best for addressing the stress we put on our muscles when we’re in “beast mode.” Cramping, Charlie horses and pulled muscles, for starters. Massage a drop or two on sore spots to relieve tension, soothe irritated tissue and increase circulation.
Want to get more than just the medicinal benefits of Aroma Touch? Have your significant other assist with the application.
To learn more about essential oils, including doTERRA products, contact Peter and Susie Bagwell, doTERRA Essential Oil Wellness Advocates and Crossfit Estero members at (586) 604-3500. Or email Susie at firstname.lastname@example.org.