Getting to Know Essential Oils

Karen Balistreri

Since traveling in Central America, Tea Tree Oil has become a vital presence in my medicine cabinet. It was an absolute lifesaver for itchy fly bites while gardening in the tropics. Applied topically it eased the itch and healed the sore faster than anything else I tried. I’m continually amazed by it’s other applications: dab it on a pesky pimple or add a couple drops to shampoos to stimulate healthy hair and cure dandruff.

Essential oils have been used throughout history as preventative medicine, in treating infections, and to aid in relaxation and stress relief. Today, most people are unfamiliar with these oils, which often provide natural remedies for easing various discomforts.

Karen Balistreri, an aromacologist, has been studying the field of wellness since 1988. She passionately shares that essential oils have changed her life, and helped her family and clients. On October 8 and November 5, Balisteri will teach a morning workshop at the Spa at Sacred Grounds in Ephraim.

“I have been in the field of health and wellness for going on 25 years. I teach people about purity in essential oils, which means knowing where your oils come from and how to make sure they aren’t deluded,” Balisteri said. “There isn’t anything natural in even the best bath shop’s oils.

The FDA ruled that an essential oil must contain at least 5 percent of the plant essence. This leads to many misunderstandings when purchasing oils. For instance, people buy Lavender Essence thinking it’s 100 percent pure, when it’s actually a hybrid and not pharmaceutical grade oil.

Balistreri said, “These oils are the essential lifeblood of the plant; they are a living substance. I have people try oils, smell them, massage it on anything that hurts, or for comfort. So my classes are very experience-oriented. It’s about an hour and half, and we cover nine oils and their many uses.”

Essential oils can aid concentration, digestion, as an antiseptic, to ease minor aches and pains. Lavender, for example, is known as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the oils. Lavender relieves sunburn and chapped hands or lips. Also used in many deodorants, lavender keeps you smelling fresh and clean. Drop lavender oil on a cut to clean the wound and kill bacteria.

“I will use whatever oil I need that day, depending on what my body is telling me. However, I use lavender and peppermint almost daily. The number one problem in the world today is stress, so lavender, which is calming, is so important. You can rub it on your pillowcase and get a better night’s sleep,” Balistreri said.

Another important and multi-faceted essential oil is peppermint. Well known as a digestive aid, using a couple drops in hot water for tea can work wonders. Also try rubbing four to six drops of the essential oil over your stomach to relieve indigestion, flatulence and diarrhea.

Aromatherapy Opportunities

Aromacologist Karen Balistreri will present workshops on Oct. 8 and Nov. 5 at 10:30 am in The Spa at Sacred Ground’s library. There is no fee for the morning sessions, and Balistreri will also be available to schedule individual consultations in the afternoon. For more information call 920.854.4733.