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Keys to Healing with Essential Oils

by Nora Zelevansky
According to healing arts practitioner Hope Gillerman, when used correctly, there is a mind-body-beauty remedy for everyone.

Hope Gillerman is an essential oil advocate.

The healing arts practitioner and founder of self-care line, H. Gillerman Organics, first discovered their power - way beyond the pleasure of lovely aromas - as an injured young dancer. This newfound fascination eventually led her to create the 40 blends that would inspire her lauded remedy collection.

Now, the aromatherapist and expert essential oil blender, whose remedies can be found at spas like Mohonk Mountain House and Spa Nalai at the Park Hyatt, is educating beginners and devotees alike on essential oil efficacy in her new book, Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness and Beauty.

Here, Gillerman explains why organic essential oils can and should be part of our daily regimen.

​How did you first discover essential oils?

I was starting out as a dancer and choreographer and developed chronic back pain, which can raise a complex group of issues; pain, depression, lethargy. There was a snowball effect. Suddenly, I couldn't dance at all.

I sought help from a massage therapist who was working with essential oils. I thought they were just lavender scents in candles and sachets; I didn't know they had healing benefits. But I immediately became aware of how they impacted my life, and I could feel them detoxifying. That got me in tune with my body and heightened by sensory awareness, changing my overall approach to my health: my diet, ways to relax. Essential oils got me back to listening to my body less as a dancer, but more in terms of really feeling what is happening. And they did get rid of my pain.

What led you to start blending your own?

I was always suggesting oils to people who came to me for sessions on Alexander Technique. Eventually, I realized that I should make blends for them. I knew it could change lives, but I needed to study more. Ultimately, I learned about the application of essential oils in Chinese medicine from Jeffery Yuen.

I also started working with organic essential oils, and I had about 40 different blends when I decided to create a line of remedies. I hadn't seen people working with essential oils to capture their true medicinal power. My mission from day one was for people to have an experience of true healing and efficacy; this is herbal medicine and has been used that way for thousands of years. I'm trying to get back to that.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about essential oils?

One of the most common is that they smell good and that's why they make us feel good. While I could never dismiss the power of scent, essentials are way more. Once they enter the body, 70 percent of what is inhaled is absorbed into the bloodstream. When you smell one, you are ingesting the most concentrate essence from nature, a complex plant medicine.

Another misconception is that all natural essential oils are good. Unfortunately, most are overly processed and synthetically treated for commercial purposes such as household cleaners. Oils for healing medicine should not be processed at all. They need to be organic, so you know how they've been treated. And, since essential oils are so good at absorbing into the skin, you want to keep them away from toxic agents!

People also think that they need only one essential oil, but they work more potently when combined. And they are not for drinking, which people have been doing lately. They should be inhaled or used topically.

For what are essential oils most useful?

We need them for immune system support in this crowded world with lots of global travel and overuse of antibiotics. And for emotional well-being, which includes sleep, anxiety, low energy and more. Essential oils are brilliant at helping with skincare concerns like anti-aging, environmental protection, bug bites and more. They're good every step of the way for your skin.

You mention five core oils, which can change lives. What are those?

First you don't have to buy a diffuser. One way to take deep inhalations and scent your personal space is to put give to 10 drops of essential oils in a wine glass or snifter, swirl until the oils have coated the bottom of the glass, hold it up to your nose as you relax and slowly exhale, then inhale, five times. If left by your computer or bedside, the oils will gradually evaporate. Repeat as often as needed for a break during the day or if you wake up in the middle of the night.

I picked these five oils because they're the most heavily researched and readily available. They're multifunctional and work very well together: Lavender, for anxiety and sleep issues, relaxing muscles and skincare, but more importantly, to harmonize a blend. Peppermint, for sharpening the mind as a decongestant. Tea Tree, because it's such a strong antiviral. Lemon because citrus oils are just happy (and are also great for detoxing and cellulite). And, finally, Cedarwood, as a muscle relaxer and base note, so you can experience the fragrance longer. ​

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