At doTERRA we recommend using essential oils aromatically, topically, or internally depending on the properties in each individual oil. Nearly every oil and blend, with the exception of HD Clear® and Immortelle, can be diffused. Diffusing an oil helps us take advantage of its most noticeable characteristic—it’s scent. By learning more about how much of a role smell plays in our lives, the impact of essential oils can be understood on a deeper level.
The Power of Scent
Our sense of smell is one of our most powerful senses, and you have probably noticed in your own experience that some scents are more positively associated in our minds than others. Your body contains over 1,000 receptors for smell—more receptors than for any other sense. Dr. David K. Hill D.C., Founding Executive points out that even though our noses are not as acute as a bloodhound’s, “you can still detect thousands of varieties of odors in infinitesimal quantities.”
By putting essential oils directly into the air we breathe, we can influence the feeling of our environment, and, more powerfully, our own emotions. The doTERRA Emotional Aromatherapy® System contains six blends formulated to address specific emotions, but any oil can have this impact. We know that citrus oils, for example, are uplifting and energizing to your mood, while scents like Lavender or doTERRA Balance® are calming and grounding.
Other Uses and Benefits
While smell is a great tool, there are other reasons that diffusing essential oils can be beneficial to you:
Only a small amount of oil needs to be used if you’re using it in an ultrasonic diffuser. This means you can use one bottle of essential oil many times before you’ll need more.
How to Diffuse
The best way to diffuse is either nebulizing (cold air) or ultrasonic (water) diffusion. Heating oils to diffuse them can alter their delicate chemistry. Most of the diffusers doTERRA offers are ultrasonic diffusers, meaning that they use water to disperse the oil into the air.
To diffuse in an ultrasonic diffuser, put cool tap water to the fill line and add at least two drops or more to the water. Then, choose the time setting you desire and let it run. Diffusing in a nebulizing diffuser is waterless: take the cap and orifice off of your bottle of essential oil and attach it to the diffuser and choose your settings for time and amount at a time.
If you don’t have a diffuser, there are other ways to enjoy the benefits of diffusing. Try adding a few drops of essential oil to your palms and cup them over your nose while you inhale deeply. This is an easy technique especially when you’re on the go. Or, add some drops of oil to a glass spray-bottle with water and spritz around the room.
The combinations of essential oils you can diffuse are endless. And, like each of you, they are as unique as you would like them to be. Check out our post on creating blends to see what scents go well together, or follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram for more ideas.
Your health today could be helped by looking back thousands of years. Reach into history and you’ll find an ancient wisdom and practice that you may have heard of, but might not truly understand—Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
TCM is one of the world’s oldest forms of medicine. But in a world predominantly using Western medical science, the popularity of Traditional Chinese Medicine is regaining popularity. Many of the principles and ancient wisdom of TCM are being integrated into holistic strategies for health today.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is Thousands of Years Old
TCM—also often referred to as “Eastern Medicine”—originated in ancient mainland China. It dates back more than 2,500 years and has evolved and been perfected ever since. Even for those relying on modern “Western Medicine” which, is only a couple of hundred years old. However, there is likely a lot that can be learned from TCM practices.
But what exactly is Traditional Chinese Medicine? An understanding of the premises of TCM starts with the underlying philosophies.
Yin and Yang is the Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Nature is the primary hallmark of TCM. The basic premise of TCM is that our bodies are a microcosm of our surrounding world and universe. You have probably heard of “yin” and “yang” (or at least seen the symbol).
Yin and yang is the basis of Eastern science and TCM. It is the concept that opposing forces are actually complimentary, essential, and need to exist in balance and harmony for optimal health. Some examples are:
light and dark
positive and negative
fire and water
good and evil
male and female
expanding and contracting
Think about it this way. Shadows cannot exist without light. And the premise of many modern superhero movies—good cannot exist without evil.
The basic underlying premise of yin and yang in TCM is these seemingly opposite forces need to exist in balance and harmony. Harmony between yin and yang is thought to promote health. But imbalance is thought to result in disease.
Qi—or Life Force—is an Important Concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Qi (pronounced “Chee”), is generally defined as the vital energy that flows through the bodies of every living thing. The literal translation from the Chinese characters means “molded by the energy of the nature”. The Chinese believed that Qi permeated everything and linked their bodies’ to the surrounding environment.
The concept of Qi is deeply rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The concept was first noted in the oldest TCM scriptures, aptly named the ‘Internal Scripture.’ The concept is that vital energy circulates through our bodies in pathways referred to as meridians. Symptoms or overt illnesses are believed to be the result of blocked, disrupted, or unbalanced Qi moving through our meridians.
A properly flowing Qi is believed to be responsible for many aspects of health. Thus, a major focus of TCM practices is often targeted at unblocking and allowing our Qi to properly circulate throughout our bodies.
There are Four Types of Qi
As mentioned above Qi is the energy that is moving throughout our bodies and the world around us. But there can be other energies that can affect our circulating life force. Early Chinese philosophers and other Eastern practitioners built on this notion of Qi. They further postulated there were sub-fractions of Qi.
Generally speaking, the major subcategories of Qi became:
Inborn Qi—related to genetics and cellular makeup
Pectoral Qi—related to metabolism and consists external factors like air and food
Nutritive Qi—related to diet and other nutritive factors
Protective Qi—related to protection from the outside world or immune health
Together these various Qi are said to form interdependent networks in the body and affect:
Internal organ function
Sensory organ function
Skeletal and connective tissue
Thus, a basic premise of TCM is that a properly flowing and well interconnected Qi is essential for optimal health. This concept has been recently embraced by Western medical science. Systems biology is the study of complex biological systems and the networks that connect them.
These connections can be through nerve conduction, hormones, signaling molecules, electrical impulses, or even external cues like day and night. It is also the appreciation that a single input (diet, exercise, medicines, stress etc.) does not just affect one cell, or one organ, or even one biological system. Rather, an input can have very wide-reaching effects on our physiology—a concept that has been appreciated by TCM for 1000s of years.
Healthy Qi is Incorporated into Many Aspects of Eastern Philosophies
The concept of energy moving around and through every aspect of ourselves and life around us has permeated into many aspects of early Eastern cultures; many of which, have become relatively mainstream—or at least heard about—in more modern Western civilizations. These major aspects include:
Feng Shui—the concept of harmonizing energy in the placement and arrangement of physical objects in a space. This careful balancing of Qi through a space can affect health, wealth, and vigor of the occupants.
Qigong—the concept of balancing Qi through coordinated movement, awareness, rhythmic breathing, and meditative states. It is utilized during exercise, healing, and training for martial arts.
Martial arts—related to Qigong, this concept is known as Neijing. It often involves slow, choreographed movements, and visualization to both learn a martial art and to focus internal Qi force to achieve great feats of strength.
Medicine—a number of medical practices can be used to help realign Qi. These can include herbology, acupuncture, moxibustion, and reflexology.
Parenthood—for many centuries birth has been thought to be the result of the coming together and intertwining of the Qi from a male and female. In TCM, this is referred to as joining energy or the joining of essences.
There are Five Elements Represented in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Another important philosophy in Eastern Medicine are what is known as the “Five Phases” or “Five Elements”. Symbolically these five elements represent all phenomena, including the stages of human life, and explain the functioning of the body and how it changes during health or disease.
The five elements—or phases—of TCM include and philosophically represent:
Fire—a time brimming with flowering and brimming with energy.
Earth—a time of transition as in the changing of seasons.
Wood—a time of growth (think about trees sprouting in the spring).
Metal—a time of harvesting and collecting.
Water—a time of stillness and retreat.
Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Ancient TCM concepts emphasize a natural, preventive approach. At the core of the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy is that corrective, preventative action can help if the right steps are taken. This starts with detailed observation by a well-trained practitioner. They look for disruptions in one of the principals of TCM, and provide actions to take. These practitioners claim to catch problems before traditional Western medicine would.
However, if these early observations are not acted upon, disruptions in one aspect of TCM will lead to disruptions in other aspects of TCM principals and overt disease can manifest. This comes from the ideas of connection you read about above.
Traditional Chinese Medicine’s preventative focus makes it a good pair with Western medical science. This mixing of philosophies can create synergistic results for your health.
And the crossover between Western medicine and the teaching of TCM goes even deeper. Just look at the use of reishi mushrooms to support protective Qi. Western scientific research has found that the beta-glucans—a complex carbohydrate often found in certain plants, fungi, and bacteria—in these mushrooms play a role in immune health through cell signaling.
TCM had the knowledge, remedies, and history of success, and Western medicine found the biological underpinnings. Together this gives us a complete picture of the benefits and an understanding of why something works.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments
TCM has crept into literally every society around the world. But it can go by a number of different names. Some of the most popular names are: complementary and alternative (CAM) medicine, integrative medicine, Eastern Medicine, functional medicine, holistic medicine, and alternative medicine.
But whatever you call it, practitioners use a variety of protocols to treat what is believe to be at the root of an underlying health condition. These can include interventions around nutrition, diet, herbal remedies, and various mind/body practices. These treatments can include acupuncture, cupping, therapeutic massage, scrapping, reflexology, bone setting, chiropractic techniques, breathing, exercise, and self-defense trainings.
More recently, incorporation of modern and conventional techniques, such as pharmaceuticals and surgery, can also be incorporated into Traditional Chinese Medicine approaches or vice versa. Think about how breathing techniques, massage, or acupuncture can supplement and enhance a modern, Western medical approach.
Bridging the Gap Between TCM and Your Modern Life
Today you have television, mobile phones, cars, and all the trappings of modernity. So how can an understanding of medicine from thousands of years before the Internet—or even the microscope—help you today?
It’s all about connection.
TCM is based on your connection to the world around you. And the principles of Qi—the flowing of energy through you—is based on the connectedness of your whole body.
You don’t have to memorize the terms or lists of remedies to connect your modern life to traditions that have stood the test of time. The observations and treatments might be something for you to explore. And things like therapeutic massages and martial arts exercise are fairly common today.
But you don’t even have to go that far. Understanding TCM and incorporating the principles into your life can be simple.
Start by taking a holistic approach. Strengthen your connections to the outside world (with things like gardening or forest bathing) and those connections that exist inside you. Think about how your intellect, emotions, and physical being are tied together, for instance. That’s a simple way that Traditional Chinese Medicine principles can help you strengthen your holistic health and wellness. It can guide you as you develop a healthier lifestyle that connects the pillars of physical, emotional, environmental, nutritional, and spiritual health.
Health is often understood as the absence of disease or sickness. While this definition is valid, it lacks the comprehensiveness of a broader approach. So start assessing your holistic health and wellness on a wider spectrum. This means wellness depends on more factors than simply avoiding the flu each year.
Holistic health and wellness is sustained by eight pillars: physical, nutritional, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, financial, and environmental.
The pillars will give you a sense of how to work toward your optimal wellness, but it’s by no means prescriptive. The path to wellness is not one-size-fits-all. The journey is unique and different for each individual.
Your biology, personality, and environment will determine what wellness means to you. That’s why your approach should be personalized. The common thread for everyone is that wellness requires a holistic approach.
So, let’s learn more about each pillar and how you can strengthen each one.
Most people immediately think of exercise when they hear “physical wellness.” Regular physical activity is an important part of the equation that can’t be ignored. But it’s not the only aspect deserving of attention.
Your body needs more than movement alone. Physical wellness also includes appropriate sleep, hygiene, and a healthy diet (more on this in the next section). If you’re evaluating your physical health, ask these questions: Are you getting enough quality sleep? And if not, what barriers keep you from achieving regular and restful sleep?
Researchers published an update to The National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations for adult sleep requirements. Their study reaffirmed the idea that adults should get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
For college students, parents, and workaholics, this can be a tough number to meet. But simple strategies can ensure the sleep you get comes easily and goes on uninterrupted.
Avoid screens 30 minutes before bedtime.
Incorporate a relaxing wind-down routine each night. This can include dimming lights in your home, turning on calming music, and even light stretching.
Block out unnecessary light and noise. This can be done with blackout curtains and a white-noise machine.
Though nutrition is intimately tied to physical health, it’s so important and must be represented by its own pillar. This is especially true because nutrition must be personalized based on age, sex, activity level, and body chemistry.
A balanced diet requires that you consume nutritional foods that feed your body and mind. The USDA recommends that during meals, adults fill half of their plates with fruits and vegetables. The other half should be dedicated to mostly grains, along with a modest portion of protein and a side of dairy.
Diversifying your plate with appropriate amounts of each food group will help you acquire the necessary macronutrients for day-to-day energy, muscle growth and recovery, and other bodily processes.
Strengthening this pillar requires careful attention to your diet and appropriate supplementation. Life’s stressors and time commitments can make these tasks difficult. But nutritional improvements will help strengthen the other seven pillars of holistic health and wellness.
Consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Diversifying this portion of your plate will ensure you get the micronutrients your body needs.
Pay attention to portion sizes to help with weight maintenance and adherence to MyPlate guidelines.
Replace refined grains with their whole counterparts to ensure you get enough fiber.
Emotional wellness encompasses the ability to navigate your feelings. This means identifying, assessing, and effectively sharing those feelings with others.
Why is this important? The ups and downs of life can take you on an emotional rollercoaster. But the better you understand, process, and manage those feelings, the smoother the ride will be.
Create a list of those who support you and how best to contact them. When the going gets tough, it can be hard asking for help. Having this quick reference at hand may make it that much easier to reach out.
Seek out a therapist or counselor. Often a third party’s insight can help you navigate rough waters.
Journaling is an easy way to identify and process your feelings, especially if you’re not comfortable sharing them out loud. It’s always a great way to measure your progress or growth. And reminders of your past obstacles and successes will only be a few pages away.
Social wellness is about connecting with others to form positive relationships. And if those falter, it’s about dealing with any conflicts appropriately.
Social relationships create support systems that can carry you through life’s struggles. Harvard’s Study of Adult Development ran for 80 years, collecting data on hundreds of participants. A recent study on a subset of this population—surviving octogenarians—investigated the connections between marital satisfaction, social lives, and happiness. Researchers found that participants who spent more time with others reported greater levels of happiness.
The impact of surrounding yourself with those that care for you can’t be understated. When the demands of life increase and stress mounts, the ability to turn to someone for support and understanding is powerful. Building and maintaining these networks take time and energy, but the work is worth the effort. And it will continue to serve you throughout your life.
Meet new people through social networks like Meetup.com, community events, or volunteer service.
Schedule a recurring time weekly to reach out to out-of-state friends and family. Connect with someone new each week to keep those relationships strong.
Revisit the idea of pen pals and snail mail. Connecting with loved ones through handwritten communication can really strengthen bonds.
The spiritual pillar will look different for everyone because it’s such a personal piece of overall wellness. It will play a stronger role in one person’s life more than another, depending on how each person defines it.
Spirituality is commonly viewed as a sense of purpose, direction, or meaning, without which, values can slip to the wayside, upending life’s balance. Many cultivate their spirituality through meditation, prayer, or other activities that foster a connection to nature or a higher power.
Maintaining your spiritual wellness will look different for everyone. It’s not about a specific religion or belief system. Spiritual health is about personalizing your journey. Some people might practice mindfulness as a way of checking in with their intentions, guiding their actions, and maintaining a values-based approach to life. How you choose to strengthen your spiritual health is up to you.
Dedicate a small chunk of time each day to yourself. Make this time a priority, free of distractions, interruptions, and major activities. This time can be used to relax, reflect, meditate, or pray.
Keep a journal. Writing regularly can help clear your mind and keep you accountable to the goals you’ve set.
Choose your top three values in life and write them down. Reflect on them often. Keeping these values in the front of your mind will help guide everyday decisions—big and small. This practice will make it easier to say “yes” to things that matter, and “no” to things that don’t align with your values.
Intellectual wellness is strengthened by continually engaging the mind. Doing so can help you build new skills and knowledge that inspire and challenge you, and help you grow. You might choose different ways to keep your mind sharp—depending on your mood. For some, that’s brain games and puzzles, or scholastic endeavors. Even simply engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations and debates can strengthen this pillar.
Some experience intellectual boons through self-discovery and personal advancement. Academic efforts, involvement in community activities, or other avenues of personal growth are just a few you can try.
Look for continuing education classes through a local community college or university.
Join a book club or visit your local library and sign up for a card.
Take up journaling or another self-reflective activity.
To be financially well is to live within your means and plan for the future appropriately. It can be tough to accomplish, but small steps can pay off big-time in the long-run.
Financial wellness might sound the least exciting. But pursuing betterment in this area will surely strengthen the other pillars of holistic health and wellness. After all, financial troubles are one of the top stressors that Americans report. Taking small steps to control spending and save money can really lighten the burden on your everyday life.
Make paying off debt a priority.
Create a budget with the help of an online system like Mint or a personal financial planner.
Set aside a fixed amount of money every month for non-essentials, like entertaining, dining out, and recreation.
Environmental wellness is concerned with your immediate personal surroundings and the larger community where you live and work. Specifically, environmental wellness is determined by the reciprocal relationship between an individual and their environment. How do you support your environment? And in return, how does your environment support your health, well-being, and safety?
The effects of strengthening your environmental wellness can be felt personally, and by your larger local and global communities. The more you care for and respect your natural and built environments, the better they can support and sustain your daily life.
Individual: Keep your workspace clear. A clutter-free workspace inspires creativity and productivity.
Neighborhood: Join local clean-up efforts. This could include: producing less waste, recycling, and picking up litter in your neighborhood.
Larger community: Cut back on car trips. Whether it’s combining errands or replacing motorized transport when possible, each small effort can add up to a large impact.
Build Up Your Pillars of Holistic Health and Wellness
Wellness means different things to each individual. And being well gives each person the ability to reach their personal goals. After all, when your body, mind, and soul are cared for holistically, you’re able to pursue and meet your goals with less resistance.
To determine your personalized approach to wellness, reflect on the eight pillars of holistic health and wellness. Figure out which ones most require your attention. And remember, strengthening each one will provide a great foundation for living your best, healthiest life.
Special Thank You to Jenna Templeton
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