Sharon Castelli is a certified clinical aromatherapist as well as an artist, yoga teacher, and mother of two teenagers. She embraced the use of essential oils eight years ago and shares what she believes are benefits for families:
Now that my kids are teenagers and we use essential oils daily, I realize how many times it may have helped during pregnancy, birth, and infancy.
I used to think that essential oils were only for smelling—and I was allergic to fragrance. What I didn’t know then is that high grade edible oils are non-allergenic because they don’t contain proteins or adulterants. I used a low grade peppermint oil to smell for morning sickness, but it never helped me much. I didn’t know that a drop of pure peppermint oil in water or on the tongue can sooth nausea, heartburn, and even promote peristalsis. During pregnancy I also had the same brand of eucalyptus oil to clear my sinuses. If it was a higher grade oil, I could have used a drop in a neti pot with salt which I have seen clear many sinus infections. I once paid my 9 year old daughter $5 to get her to try nasal irrigation. In three days the green mucous she had for weeks was gone. If only I did that before my son was born! I labored with congestion and a cough which I gave to him at birth. At two weeks old he spent a day under observation at St. Vincents Hospital due to his rattling cough. If I did then, what I do now, I would have taken care of my cold with immune supportive oils and applied a drop to each foot of my newborn for protection or at first sign of congestion, potentially keeping his immune system healthy and his nasal passages clear.
I had back labor with both babies. There are plant oils that my family uses to soothe all manor of aches and pains that are safe for pregnancy. How wonderful that would have been! And the emotional calm and clarity that citrus and grounding tree oils offer, are assets when diffused during labor. One friend came to see me with a baby who was fussy and crying. My experiment couldn’t have yielded more stunning results; by rubbing a drop of a calming oils in my palms and waving them in the air, her infant stopped crying abruptly as if a switch had been shut off! I would have paid big money for that peace and calming formula with my first child, Ora, who cried whenever she wasn’t held, walked, or bounced!
As for the postpartum hemorrhage I had with my second baby Evan, could helichrysum oil have prevented or decreased it’s severity? When bleeding profusely, helichrysum dripped directly in a wound stops the bleeding immediately. It helps create a scab quickly, hasten the healing process, and it is used to prevent scarring as well. Since oils absorb quickly into the skin and then bloodstream, I would have rubbed the oil on my abdomen during that hemorrhage which consequently left me with a 9 day headache, no breast milk because the pituitary was affected,and no more menstrual cycle due to hormone imbalances. It’s that imbalance that got me interested in oils to start with. I wanted to try something that made me feel good with no side effects. If I knew about oils then, I would have used them to relieve that nine day headache to oxygenate my brain. Perhaps fennel oil could have helped with milk production as other mothers’ experience.
After that traumatic second birth I couldn’t sleep for about 24 hours. I could have applied and diffused lavender, valerian, and vetiver as they now relax my children who sometimes have trouble settling in to sleep. Women who experience postpartum depression have found essential oils to be supportive for both themselves and those around them. When you smell oils whose chemistry is relaxing, they pass by the olfactory bulb and can affect moods quite quickly. I can attest to this when I’d get oils into the air and sneak some on the back of the neck of my daughter when she was throwing a tantrum . My 5 year old son whispered to me, “It helped when you put the oil on her.” In that moment, he recognized an ally to help restore peace.
This healing story happened when my friend’s toddler had a fungal infection on his head the size of a grapefruit and the hair was falling out. She tried salves from her doctor but when they were finished the infection would return immediately. The doctor’s next resort was to put the child on a strong anti fungal for 9 months that required testing the child’s liver monthly because of the medication’s toxic side effects. She decided to first try an oil blend containing 2 melaleuca oils and rosemary topically and was elated to tell me that the skin cleared up in 2 weeks for good and the hair grew back. That remedy cost about $25 and had no side effects.
What I love about using using oils, aside from the pleasing smells is that they work in harmony with our bodies just as they did for the plants before harvest and distillation. In addition to their unique properties, all oils oxygenate and detox the cells. They are balancing and seem to have a natural intelligence that is in tune with our biology. I feel blessed to know about this ancient remedy and enjoy sharing my experiences with others.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of essential oils? Join me for an essential oil workshop at Montclair Baby on Sunday January 27. I will hold two:
Pregnancy, Birth, and Infant Care 12 pm -1 pm and Dr. Mom: Essential oils for Families from 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm.