The Essence of Healing

As one of the most versatile essential oils, lavender is often blended with other oils such as pine and clary sage to create more targeted results. ALL PHOTOS SHUTTERSTOCK

This article along with others on mastering your mind, body and soul connection are featured in Newsweek Special Edition: Spiritual Living.

Most of us trust our doctors even when they hand us a prescription for a drug we can't pronounce. But, as forward thinkers begin embracing alternative forms of medicine, it seems more and more Americans would rather hear their doctor say "Just rub this orange on your elbow." Natural, holistic products are fully in vogue, and the Internet has created a way for non-experts to become as—or more—informed as their general practitioner when it comes to obscure treatment methods. "People are now more willing to take their health and wellness into their own hands," says Danielle Hardee, a wellness advocate for doTERRA International.

Oddly enough, until fairly recently, Hardee was not one of those people. Her first experience with essential oils came in the unlikely form of treating an ailing English bulldog she was fostering. After seeking suggestions for the sickly pet on Facebook, a fellow fosterer told Hardee about certain oils she could try applying to the animal's skin. "I was impressed with what she told me, but I wanted to see for myself," says Hardee, noting that because she is an attorney, her BS meter is pretty well-honed.

Pairing her intrigue with healthy skepticism, Hardee dove deep into researching the safety of the oils. "I was very happy with everything I found," she says. "I started not just using them on the foster dog, but also our son, who needed the benefi ts of the respiratory support." While the canine's recovery was soon apparent, the benefits for her son were almost immediate. "In that moment of using them, I could tell I had something special," she says.

The oils in question are considered "essential" not due to any proven vitality, but because they contain the essence of the plant from which they are extracted. Peppermint, lavender and citruses are among the most common on the market today, but numerous essential oils have been in use for several centuries. While the FDA has not approved the use of essential oils in any capacity as a drug, they have approved several products, such as Vicks VapoRub, that contain them. In fact, countless universally accepted drugs are, like these oils, applied topically, inhaled or ingested, but the prestige proffered by patents and prescriptions keeps essential oils largely in the periphery of the general public. This too, thanks to testimonies from people like Hardee, is beginning to change.

After seeing how beneficial the concentrated liquids were to both the two-legged and four-legged members of her family, Hardee soon found herself teaching essential oil classes. "It became something I felt so strongly about, I had to share it," she says. The classes quickly grew in size and geographical span and Hardee soon became an advocate for doTERRA International, a natural nutrition and wellness company. Joined by many former attendees of her classes, Hardee built a diverse league of essential oils supporters, ranging from middle-class moms to nonholistic veterinarians.

As growing popularity pushes essential oils into the broader market, Hardee recommends curious customers proceed with caution concerning quality and purity. Still an attorney at the end of the day, Hardee believes the effects of quality oils will be the evidence that helps them prevail. "I'm not a holistic health guru," she emphasizes. "I'm just seeing it with my own eyes."

Must-Have Essentials

Still skeptical? Start with these tried and true, multi-purpose oils.


Used for centuries as a natural astringent to combat bad breath, soothe indigestion and overcome fatigue, oil from the peppermint plant can also reduce nausea and cramping.


Often sought in efforts to help the mind focus, detox the body and soothe sore throats. Additionally, many find it to be useful as a natural disinfectant.

Tea Tree

Known as nature's medical miracle, it is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Though most popularly used in acne treatments, it can also be used to sanitize minor cuts.


Widely regarded as the most versatile essential oil, lavender can be used to deepen sleep and reduce stress. When mixed into steam and inhaled, it can also clear troublesome sinuses.


Commonly used to reduce pain, inflammation, congestion and indigestion, though it should never be used undiluted, and pregnant or nursing women are advised to refrain from use.

This article was excerpted from Newsweek Special Edition: Spiritual Living. For the ultimate guide to all things metaphysical and to discover the secret to peace and happiness pick up a copy today.

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