Essential Oils and Foot Care
~ By Kirsten Antony R.N. ~
Essential oils and the therapeutic use of, known as aromatherapy, have been used throughout history to help heal the body holistically. The field of aromatherapy has grown over the past few decades as well as all the products available on the market. Many people associate aromatherapy with fragrance and perfume, but there is much more of a therapeutic value to aromatherapy and essential oils than meets the nose.
Essential oils are the liquids that are pressed or distilled from plants. This may include parts as leaves, flowers, fruits, grasses or woods. When applied to the body, essential oils are absorbed into the skin which can promote an effect on the body, mind, emotions and spirit. The molecules enter the circulatory system and, depending on the oil used, can promote a variety of healing responses. The oils may also be inhaled which trigger olfactory receptors in the nose. This stimulates the central nervous system and respiratory system. For example, inhaling peppermint traditionally acts as a stimulant and may help improve energy levels. Using essential oils in a diffuser is an excellent way to disperse the oils in the air.
There are a few important points to mention when using essential oils. Essential oils all come from different plants and have different chemical compounds. These different chemical compounds have different therapeutic actions. It is important to know what an essential oil is used for before using it. Essential oils are an incredible agent to healing, but some have very strong medicinal properties and should be treated with care.
It is not typically advised to use the oil straight out of the bottle onto the skin. Essential oils applied directly on the skin undiluted is known as the neat. Most essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil, otherwise they may be irritating to the skin. Jojoba oil or sweet almond oil are two examples of carrier oils. Lavender essential oil mixed with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil makes and excellent massage oil for relaxation. Lavender has been known as an aid for insomnia and has a calming effect on the nervous system.
For foot care, I’d like to discuss the use of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is known as an antifungal and antiseptic and can be used for foot care issues such as athlete’s foot and nail fungus. Athlete’s foot and nail fungus are two different types of fungus. Athlete’s foot grows on the skin and toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a fungus that grows under the nails. Tea tree oil may help combat either type of fungus on the feet.
Onychomycosis is very common to see in those with diabetes, a depressed immune system, those with decreased circulation and the elderly. Toenails do tend to become thicker and discolored as you age. Thickness and discoloration are also signs of onychomycosis. If you suspect toenail fungus or athlete’s foot, it would be appropriate to seek a physician’s diagnosis and also before starting a home treatment program with essential oils. As with any herbal remedy, it is a good idea to work with a health care professional to avoid any adverse reactions.
In the world of natural healing, plants can be wonderful allies. They can heal us in so many ways. Essential oils are a highly concentrated part of the plant. It may have taken many plants to make one drop of oil. Please use with caution, reverence and gratitude.
Kirsten Antony is a Registered Nurse and Certified Reflexologist. Kirsten is a holistic health care practitioner and specializes in foot and nail care. She provides care in the Denver area at a variety of facilities as well as making house calls. For more information visit www.kirstenantony.com or call 303-668-8992.