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Essential oils’ healing power gaining acceptance



The sense of smell is part of the human body’s front-line defense against such things as fire and things one shouldn’t eat.

It also heightens experience and creates fond memories as pleasurable smells rocket through the olfactory system right to the brain.

Enter aromatherapy, which involves using highly concentrated essential oils to alter one’s mood, enhance cognition and boost psychological and physical well-being.

“I use it to support my mood,” said Jenny Perruzzi, who has an array of concentrated essential oils in her office on Church Street in Ellsworth.

Jenny Perruzzi teaches classes on aromatherapy and particularly likes wild orange for enhancing mood and peppermint for relieving digestive issues. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER
Jenny Perruzzi teaches classes on aromatherapy and particularly likes wild orange for enhancing mood and peppermint for relieving digestive issues.
PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

“Wild orange is very invigorating,” she said. “Put a couple of drops on your palm, rub them together, bring your palms up to your nose and inhale. It affects your thought process, your mood, your mental health.”

While some might question whether the effect is more placebo than not, Ellsworth resident Ellen Beauchaine, who has worked as a nurse for years at Mount Desert Island Hospital and before at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, is a convert.

On a whim about a year ago, she took a class offered at MDI hospital by a visiting nurse from Penn Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The topics were managing stress and the uses of aromatherapy

“I thought, when the mumbo jumbo comes up I’ll leave,” said Beauchaine. “As a medical person it’s always, ‘Show me.’”

The speaker told a story about a teenage athlete who risked losing a leg because of a persistent infection subsequently cured by the direct application of tea tree and lavender oils.

Beauchaine was intrigued.

She found herself signing up for another class on aromatherapy and learned, among other things, that lavender was helpful in promoting sleep.

Beauchaine suggested her 89-year-old mother try it by applying a few drops of lavender mixed in lotion to her pillow. Her mother said she hadn’t slept that well in years.

Still skeptical, Beauchaine sought an aromatherapy aid when her mother began struggling with shortness of breath.

“I ordered an essential oil blend called ‘Breathe,’ and now she won’t go anywhere without it,” Beauchaine said.

“I wasn’t planning to love it the way I do,” she said. “These are parts of plants so I know this is not going to hurt me.”

Ellen Beauchaine, a nurse who normally is a tough sell on things, now routinely advises friends and family how to use aromatherapy for everything from insomnia to respiratory problems. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER
Ellen Beauchaine, a nurse who normally is a tough sell on things, now routinely advises friends and family how to use aromatherapy for everything from insomnia to respiratory problems.
PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Liz Meadows, a massage therapist with a salon at the Maine Grind in Ellsworth, uses essential oils when administering her healing touch.

Meadows is so convinced of their power that she is developing her own line of products under her business name, The Natural Alternative.

“I’m really adamant about the purity of the oils and the need to use them properly,” she said. “It takes a ton of rose petals to make one ounce of rose oil.”

Meadows said she was taken aback by some essential oil sales people.

“They almost talk about them like it’s a Tupperware party,” Meadows said.

She said essential oils are lipid, not water-soluble. They can be inhaled or absorbed by the skin.

Most people working with aromatherapy dilute the oils in a “carrier” oil or lotion.

“I like to use a pre-mixed blend of oils,” she said, often consulting with clients and letting them choose what scent they like the most.

Meadows said she knows firsthand what stress can do to the body, whether it is the digestive system, the heart, “the list goes on and on.”

She might suggest cardamom or peppermint oil for a kinked nerve or other pain.

Eucalyptus and peppermint oils provide relief for a troubled respiratory system.

In the meantime, Meadows said she enjoys all of the immune boosting properties of essential oils while giving other people massages.

And she enjoys the clientele that are in tune with aromatherapy and its benefits.

“It’s really cool how people will incorporate essential oils into their lives, replacing them for other things they would normally use,” Meadows said.

Massage therapist Liz Meadows uses a range of essential oils and is developing her own line of products to ensure purity. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER
Massage therapist Liz Meadows uses a range of essential oils and is developing her own line of products to ensure purity.
PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Perruzzi, who teaches aromatherapy classes in Ellsworth and through Mount Desert Island Adult and Community Education, swears by peppermint oil for digestive issues and as a general pick me up.

“One drop of peppermint oil is equal to 25 cups of peppermint tea,” she said. “It’s very, very potent.”

The range of oils is tantalizing, particularly those that appeal at holiday times: Siberian Fir, Wild Orange, clove, cinnamon, Douglas fir.

Peruzzi regularly offers classes on essential oils and has two upcoming classes in Ellsworth: a one hour introductory class on essential oils Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m., and a class on combining oils —“rollerball” — Dec. 19, 12:30-2 p.m.

She can be reached at 266-2944 for more information.

Beauchaine said she is delving into it more deeply every day and is available for private consultations by calling 479-2922.

“This year I am finding out what they are for me,” she said. “Then maybe it will segue into a business. I love helping people. That’s why I got into nursing. This could be a continuation of that.”

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]
Jacqueline Weaver

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