Bliss or bullshit: our essential oils sceptic tells us what she thinks

Bliss or bullshit: our essential oils sceptic tells us what she thinks

I feel the need to start here by saying that I am, by nature, a sceptic. For me, it is not just seeing that it is believing, its studying and then fully understanding a topic that leads to believing. I try not to dismiss things out of hand but until very recently essential oils were in the “Kooky Things Hippies Like To Dabble In” basket in my mind… yet I have realised that using them has real benefits.

I was introduced to essential oils through a great girlfriend of mine when she told me about the gum she chewed after every meal to curb sugar cravings, each piece filled with essential oils. Never one to turn down a potential silver bullet or magic solution, I jumped online to the website she had recommended and ordered myself a box of very well marketed essential oil chewing gum… named Slim & Sassy.

All natural, no hidden speed or amphetamines like the magic chewing gums of days of yore, this had extracts of cinnamon, grapefruit, peppermint and ginger. I figured that even if it didn’t work on my cravings, it sounded like it would be a step up from Wriggly’s Juicy Fruit.

Whilst on the website I realised that the more oils I bought, the more money I saved. And the oils all promised such amazing things and sounded so good! With absolutely no idea of what I would do with them, but a deep desire to be one of those chilled out, Zen AF ladies you encounter in shops that sell crystals and angel cards, I filled up my virtual trolley with “essential oil basics” (peppermint, lemon, lavender and tea tree oil) and a couple of cool sounding blended oils (blends) called Breathe and Balance. I also ordered a diffuser, so I could waft the oily goodness all over my house.

Around the same time I ran out of my usual lovely Jo Malone perfume, and having just dropped a bit of cash on what I still thought were frivolous oils, I decided to use said oils instead of perfume. It became a daily habit to rub a fair splash of Balance onto my wrists on behind my ears, like a perfume, each morning.

Balance is a said to be a ‘grounding blend, creating a sense of wellbeing and harmony’ and… it is. I’m known to those nearest and dearest to me as being more than a little all over the place, my highs tend to be very high and the lows unpleasantly low, yet once I started wearing Balance daily, well, I became more Balanced. Less likely to flip out. Pleasantly stable.  And it wasn’t even something I was aware of – after a few weeks I forgot to wear it a couple of times and realised, with hindsight, that those days had gone not quite as well as the days where I had worn it.

I texted my Gum Chewing Slim & Sassy girlfriend with a message along the lines of “I can’t believe I’m saying this… but I think your oil things actually work!” To which she agreed that it’s totally crazy and she has no idea how they work either, but they just do.

Once I had this revelation, I suddenly wanted to apply essential oils to everything. When the kids had a cough, I put a blend called breathe of lemon, eucalyptus, cardamom and peppermint oils on them, or diffused it next to their beds at night, and those horrible hacking coughs would stop.

My chocolate mousse gets flavoured with a few drops of peppermint or wild orange oil, depending on if I’m in a choc-mint or a Jaffa mood, and I’ve one-upped all the trendy half-a-lemon-in-a-glass-of-warm-water people, as one drop of lemon oil has 30 times the amount of detoxifying agents as that half a lemon, so that’s what I put in my water bottle these days.*

Headaches in my house are treated with peppermint, and when my daughter had a stye on her eye a quick “essential oils + stye” Google search told me to apply lavender oil and tea tree oil below the eye – and the next morning it was gone.

I’ll admit that I knew I had become a crazy oil lady when two things happened:

  1. I outed myself here on the Champagne Cartel FB page as someone who uses oils to get my emotions under control and feel more balanced and grounded. Big step, trust me. Whilst I’m never one to hold back when it comes to sharing my personal information that I think could be helpful for others, no one wants to be the person other people kind of roll their eyes about.
  2. I used them on my whoo-ha. Yep. Oils on my vagina. One Saturday afternoon I began to feel an uncomfortable yet familiar tingle, and knew I needed a tube of Canesten ASAP. Except… the pharmacy in the little village in Belgium I’m currently living in was closed and wouldn’t be open till Monday morning. So… another Google search told me what to do, and very soon after I was swabbing away with coconut oil, Tea Tree oil and Lavender WHILST texting Gum Chewing Slim & Sassy Girlfriend about the fact that if she was wrong about all this Oil crap, my vagina was going to be very unhappy tomorrow, in particular with her. I’ll admit that the Tea Tree Oil gave the whole zone another (not entirely unpleasant) tingle… and the next day all was fine. No need for the trip to the pharmacy on Monday morning after all. The antibacterial properties of the oils had worked their magic, and my friendship reached a new level (talking about your vagina is always a new level in female friendships, isn’t it?) and remained intact.

Each month I order a few new oils and replace the ones that I have used up. I’ve replaced our usual hand soap with an essential oil blend that kills germs and is based on the oils that used to be burnt in the pharaohs’ tombs in Egypt for that very purpose.

When I actually remember to put my anti-wrinkle cream on at night, I add a drop of frankincense to it too, as it has been known to have anti-ageing properties ever since Cleopatra used it. My greatest win of all, my more balanced moods and the general health of my family aside is that my husband – aka the Worlds Greatest Sceptic – now believes in the oils too, and requests them for his own coughs or wheezes.

I’ve walked in on him more than once to find him with one of my little bottles of Breathe blend shoved partially up his nose whilst he sniffs it, to clear his sinus infections (n.b. this is not recommended usage of oils, just a creative little trick my husband made up alone.)

So where does that leave me? I’m a hard-core sceptic turned not-quite-believing-I’m believing-it believer. Whilst I’m not quite at the level where I am wearing aromatherapy inspired jewellery to infuse my oils around me all day (yes, that exists) or buying mugs saying “I’ve got an oil for that!” (Both those mugs AND the people who buy them also exist…) I have become that person who sends a little bottle here and there to the people I love, the people that I think need them.

I sent a blend called Cheer to my gorgeous mum who was having a rough time, and another blend for digestion and stomach pains to my sister, who had a gassy and unhappy baby, doubling up in pain after each feed. Both of them have said that the oils helped. Maybe they did, maybe it was just a case each time of it being the thought behind the gift that helped but I know this… The oils work for me, and have definitely become “essential” to my daily life.

*Not all brands of essential oils are of high enough quality to be ingested – check that the ones you have before using them in cooking. I only use DoTerra brand Oils, as they are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils, easily ordered through their website, and with whole fantastic communities of DoTerra loving people out there on FB and Instagram and various blogs, eager to explain how to best use them. And if you do buy ones you can use in food – go wild. Never run out of lime, basil, cardamom, coriander or many other spices or flavours again, and don’t worry about having to slice chop and dice them. One easy drop will do the trick.


Lucy is an Aussie expat married to a fabulous Frenchman, with 3 young children who were each born in different countries. She’s an all or nothing girl, therefore most likely to be found either out training for a half marathon… or lazing around reading her third book this week. She is a Gemologist and Diamond Grader by profession, but likes to think of herself as a semi-professional Dumpling & Massage tester too.

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