Let's Talk about MLM

Okay, let's cut straight to the chase and deal with the beautifully fragrant elephant in the room.

Something I’ve come up against quite a lot over the last year when it comes to talking about dōTERRA essential oils is the concept of ‘multi-level marketing’ (MLM), which seems to immediately conjure up all sorts of negative connotations and judgements about the product and sometimes by association, the person selling it. Don't feel bad, I felt exactly the same way when I first came across it.  In fact, even after I fell in love with the oils, I still had a tough time with the idea of direct selling (I mean, anyone who knows me, knows I scored 100% Introverted on the Myer-Briggs for a reason!) 

Before I continue, I’d like to make a very important point: just because you want to use dōTERRA essential oils, doesn’t mean you automatically have to sell them.  In fact the vast majority (I think over 85%) of dōTERRA’s customers are just that- customers, and the option to explore the business aspect is entirely that- optional.  So, the purpose of this post is merely to give you my thoughts on network marketing and hopefully alleviate any concerns you might have that by buying some essential oils you’ve inadvertently committed to something else!

My passion, before anything else, is about the role essential oils can play in our natural health care, and I’ve chosen to partner with dōTERRA because in a globally unregulated industry I have found a product that I can trust.  People sometimes tell me that they can buy 100% pure essential oils from their local stores for half the price (or more) than dōTERRA’s equivalent, but what I want to know is can they be certain of how that oil is harvested, or if it is indeed 100% of the exact oil listed (or has it been diluted in a carrier oil where it can still claim to be 100%), and are they supported in the most effective uses for that oil?  These points are crucial as essential oils are not just innocuous little bottles that smell nice; they are potent plant medicine that should be treated (and harvested) with respect and understanding.  Particularly for those who look to rely on them for physical or emotional support- these questions are actually incredibly important, and as a consumer we should want to know the answers.

I’ve also heard claims that dōTERRA’s products are over priced simply to pay those selling the products, yet interestingly this doesn’t appear to be a problem when it comes to conventional retail businesses, where a percentage of the mark up of any product is to pay for the everyday running of a business (staff, shop rent, marketing etc).  I actually don’t disagree that dōTERRA’s essential oils are often a little higher priced, however maybe it could be argued that this is because dōTERRA choose to pay people a fair wage (starting with the farmers and harvesters) and that they also commit to and invest in the people they work with by building vital local infrastructure such as schools and medical centres, bringing communities together and improving their collective economic future

These are among many reasons why dōTERRA chose the direct selling business model- so that people can become active and knowledgable consumers of these products.  I’m certainly grateful for it as I probably wouldn't have been introduced to all the benefits of essential oils if it weren't for seeing someone I knew (and trusted) talking about it on my social media news feed.  I have always been passionate about holistic health and have used essential oils in my life for over two decades, yet there was still so much I didn't know…and I was fascinated by it.

My sincere hope is that I can play a small part in inspiring others too.  For me it’s about intentional living, because when it comes to our health and well-being, I believe it is important that we choose the best we can afford; from food to personal products, from medication to make-up, everything we put on and in our body gets absorbed and is either good or bad for us- it’s that simple.  When we take preventative care, when we prioritise our self-care, when we listen to our bodies, we tap into a greater wisdom where essential oils are not the answer but are a fabulous (and fragrant) tool to accompany us on the journey. 

I’ve chosen to educate myself by studying to become a certified aromatherapist so I can be confident in the knowledge I am sharing, and I take my role within the direct selling model very seriously to ensure that anyone who purchases the oils through me has as much support as they want and need.  So yes, I would earn a commission if you signed up to dōTERRA and bought their products through me, but this is my job and I don’t think it’s wrong that I am paid for it.  After all, dōTERRA isn’t the only option out there, but if you’re looking for a company that has strong ethics, a genuine philanthropic vision and transparent business model that looks to empower ordinary people, hopefully you’ll feel it’s a good place to invest. 

Ultimately though there will never be a hard sell from me because if it resonates, the rest will follow naturally.  In the meantime, I just want to share my love/obsession of natural health care with you and, if you choose to not use oils in your life, or to buy another brand of oils that rocks your World…it’s all cool with me. I just hope now that we've got this awkward conversation out the way we can get comfortable and enjoy exploring the World’s amazing fragrant apothecary together.

Ruby Phoenix

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1984 was a big year for me. I was 12 and read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which got me obsessing with every little thing happening in my body, and I got my period.  Then came Forever and soon after boys had my puberty hormones all a flutter and a whole other awareness of my body took over. However during the last few decades I became gradually disconnected from my physical body.  It’s been unconscious and unintentional but unless I was sick, looking to lose a few pounds, or tracking my cycle to gauge my fertility, I never really considered how integral my body was to my wellbeing. It sounds crazy typing it out now, as of course I’m aware I exist in a body, but I saw it as a vehicle of existence, if you know what I mean: fundamental sure, but in a functional capacity.

Then in the last few years, as I entered the peri-menopausal phase of my life, there’s been a significant shift in my consciousness.  Maybe it was the essential oils, maybe it’s just what age does (acknowledging our mortality sure as hell makes you think about things differently!) but my health has become a major priority and with that, an awareness of my body. Not just as a means of existence, but paramount to my existence. It’s been a domino effect really, with one thing leading synchronistically onto another, to where I find myself now: an aromatherapist and wellness advocate with an insatiable thirst for, and continually growing, understanding of how deeply interconnected our mind, body and spirituality is, and the importance of those relationships.

The journey to menopause takes us through a liminal phase and, from the moment we enter peri-menopause (usually around 40 onwards for most women), we stand at a threshold with the opportunity to reflect on our past experiences and the stories we tell ourselves.  We are offered the chance to let go of ideas that no longer serve us and transform our struggles into personal wisdom.  This is not something we merely think about, but can be visceral experiences that occurs as hot flushes and migraines, or cause insomnia and feelings of intense emotions; a (not always welcomed) gift from our bodies to commune with our inner self. This is a portal to transform what we have allowed to define us into a deeper wisdom and understanding of life, of our life.

I’m currently studying Aromatherapy and Medicine of the Soul with Cathy Skipper and Florian Birkmayer which is based around the Jungian concept of alchemy where fire (calcinatio) is traditionally considered the first of seven stages of alchemy. It seems apt then that one of the most common physical symptoms experienced by women during the menopause is what is known as hot flushes.

The calcinatio represents being burned up or consumed by the fires of one’s unmet desires, blocked instincts, passions and rages, in other words, one’s own personal hell. If this intense effect can be endured, it can have a refining and consolidating effect, for it is also associated with the flames of the funeral pyre, which signify transformation.  Once the process of calcinatio has finished, there is a feeling of something having been burnt off, the tension has been released.
— Sharon Martion, The Alchemy of Anger

In addition to hot flushes, the calcination stage can also be experienced on an emotional level through intense rage and anger: “fiery” emotions that need to be released in order to be transformed.  In fact one of the first signs of peri-menopause could be increased irritability, a little signal that the heat is being turned up.  It’s important to acknowledge these signals, to claim the anger and release the experiences that have rendered us feeling powerless and and allow the fire of transformation to burn. 

We often hear how the menopausal journey is one that takes women by surprise, however alongside the physical discomforts, it’s the psychological breakdown that seems to be the hardest to accept.  After all, it’s scary when the way we’ve lived and experienced the world is suddenly no longer working, and the urge to make things “normal” again by trying to ignore and push the difficult emotions away is fierce; but if we allow ourselves to cultivate an awareness of the emotions we are feeling and let them become our teacher, we can grow through them.  

That is how the name Ruby Phoenix came to be, for it’s how I envision the journey through menopause: first we must surrender; to our body, to our mind and to ourselves. We must admit and release our yearnings, our grief, our truth, and face ourselves with naked and raw honesty. We must allow our old ways of thinking and being, burn. Then, when we no longer bleed, we can transform into a ruby red phoenix and rise anew.

5 Essential Oils on the Journey to Menopause

A woman’s ability to adjust emotionally during the climacteric can be greatly influenced by how much of her life is lived in alignment with her inner values and her identification of self.  So, although there is no denying the hormonal changes that take place within a woman’s body, how she copes with the menopause physically will be largely determined by the strength of her emotional well-being.

Knowing that some of the key psychological symptoms experienced during the climacteric are depression and anxiety, which are often fuelled and aggravated by stress and insomnia, I wanted to share with you some of the essential oils that could support women to work through these symptoms.   It's important to bear in mind there are many essential oils that can be considered and I would encourage women to initially work with an aromatherapist who can create a unique and individualised programme suited specifically to their needs. However in lieu of that, here are my top 5 essential oils that can best support women through the climacteric. 

1. Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia)

Anxiety is a common symptom listed by women during the climacteric and ester-rich oils are known to have significant rebalancing action on the sympathetic nervous system.  The main constituents of Lavender are linalyl acetate and linalool, which are important components in the calming and soothing quality of Lavender and have been rapidly detected in plasma after a topical application, reaching peak levels within 19 minutes. In addition, several studies have been conducted on the effects of aromatherapy in sleep-related disorders showing that inhalation of Lavender during bedtime can improve sleep quality. With insomnia being another common symptom of menopause leading to increased irritability and mood-swings, and with additional studies showing Lavender’s ability to help with mood changes and instability during this time (Holmes, 2016), Lavender could provide extra support to women during the climacteric who are suffering from insomnia. 

2. Neroli (Citrus aurantium var: amara)

Dominated by linalool, Neroli is known for its “uplifting, anxiety-relieving and calming actions that are of value in both aiding sleep and counteracting fatigue” (Rhind, 2014) making it useful for the climacteric woman.  In fact, a specific study on menopausal women investigating the effects of inhaling Neroli essential oil concluded that it improved their quality of life in relation to their symptoms. Gabriel Mojay describes Neroli as being particularly good for ‘hot, agitated conditions’ and can help ‘ease mental and emotional tension, nervous depression, and both chronic and acute anxiety.’  He also talks about how Neroli can assist in the release of repressed emotions through the energetic reconnection of our conscious and subconscious worlds (Mojay, 1994).  

In her book, ‘The Wisdom of Menopause’, Christiane Northrup says, “if emotional issues in their lives are not attended to, if their midlife losses are not fully grieved and released…they may end up with full-blown depression”, so using Neroli essential oil to support working through any blocked emotions could be helpful during this time. 

3. Rose (Rosa damascena)

Called “the Queen of flowers” by Greek poet, Sappho, the effect of Rose on our Central Nervous System (CNS) is extensive.  A study by Hongratatanaworakit (2009) showed that Rose produced a state of relaxation and calmness through transdermal absorption, supporting its use in aromatherapy for the alleviation of stress, depression, anxiety, mood-swings and irritability (Rhind, 2014). A clinical test on the effects of aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in postpartum women who were treated with rose and lavender essential oils twice weekly for a month found that their postnatal depression was lessened with significant improvements. Another study looking at the effects of olfactory stimulation on prefrontal cortex activity found that Rose can induce physiological and psychological states of relaxation.

4. Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

An essential oil known to reduce premenstrual tension and ease menstrual pain, Clary Sage is also effective for calming the mind and easing tension, with an antipressant-like effect.  According to Peter Holmes in Aromatica (2016), on an energetic and emotional level, Clary Sage ‘excels in those whose irritability, scatteredness, emotional confusion and stagnant, distressed feelings arise from weakness and a lack of centre.’ It is said to ‘bring awareness within, allowing one to come from one’s deeper emotional and energetic core’ by ‘uncannily stirring up long-lost feelings and half-buried dreams.’

5. Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum)

In Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit (1997), Gabriel Mojay describes the emotional and energetic quality of Geranium as one that ‘helps to reconnect us to our feeling-life – to our emotional sensitivity, relaxed spontaneity, and healthy thirst for pleasure and enjoyment.’  For women in the throes of the climacteric who might argue there is too much emotional sensitivity, Christiane Northrup suggests, “if we strive to work in active partnership with that organic energy, trusting it to help us…we will find that we have access to everything we need to…move joyfully into the second half of our lives.”

Geranium essential oil has also been shown to reduce anxiety, and a clinical trial comparing the efficacy of massage and aromatherapy massage with Geranium on depression in postmenopausal women found that the aromatherapy massage was more beneficial.

Mind, Body, Spirit

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Intentional Living.

What we love about essential oils is they often appear in our life to fulfill a physical need, but as we develop a relationship with them, we begin to notice how they effect our emotional and spiritual health too.

There is now a considerable amount of scientific research supporting the powerful chemical components of essential oils, but even before modern science, the antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties of essential oils have been used to ward off diseases for millennia; somewhere along the way we just lost our intuitive sense and responsibility for our own health and well-being.  It became all too easy and convenient to take a pill for a headache or indigestion without even pausing to consider whether there is a more natural alternative.

Yet there is so much wisdom to be gained from our bodies and the way we treat it; taking care over what we put into it is a powerful first step.  Working with (and understanding) nature’s medicine cabinet, one which has been well used for thousands of years, puts us back in touch with something ancient and profound.

When we get up in the morning and pause to consider what we’re going to diffuse, we are setting an intention for our day.  We are taking a moment to check in with ourselves and ask, “What am I feeling and how do I want to feel?”  The thoughtrequired to choose a particular oil, the positive intent and the purpose of the oil, creates space for us to pause and reflect.  In a World where we're often running from one thing to the next, this is a gift that can't be underestimated.

 

In a fragmented world where mind is severed from body, culture from planet, and the material from the spiritual, we have a deep need for systems that allow us to reclaim our wholeness.
— Anodea Judith

What Are Essential Oils?

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The Power of Plants.

Essential oils are the aromatic compounds sourced from various parts of certain plants. They come from the smallest of flowers to the largest of trees and are all wholly unique in their chemical make up and complexity.

Far from being a new fad, essential oils have played an integral part in our lives for thousands of years with aromatic plants and oils used as incense and perfumes as much as for their medical properties. From the Ayurvedic system of medicine in India to well documented use in China, some of the earliest written records date back to more than 2000 BC.  There are over 600 references to essential oils in one form or another in the Bible, and over the years there have been many discoveries at archaeological sites evidencing their widespread and popular use.

Medical chemistry as we know it today, didn’t really come into play until the early 1800’s when a German apothecary’s assistant, Friedrich Serturner, discovered the raw chemical compound of opium from the poppy. With the scientific revolution of the early nineteenth century, chemists began to identify the various constituents of essential oils and over the years we have seen the shift from these natural derivatives towards synthetic copies. Nowadays the medicine we use often has very little to do with its natural origins.

There is no dispute that modern medicine has made huge advances and life-saving discoveries, but somewhere along the way we lost our intuitive sense and responsibility for our own general health and well-being.

 

When you enter the fragrant pharmacy a whole World of possibility is waiting for you.
— Valerie Ann Worwood

To Diffuse or Not to Diffuse, That is the Question

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It wasn't until I signed up with dōTERRA and got my diffuser with the Home Essentials kit that I realised what a game changer a diffuser is.  Up until then, I was going old-school with the oil burner and tea light candle which, although I love in terms of connecting with the elemental energies, is not the most practical day-to-day application.

Then came the diffuser *cue heavenly music* and quite honestly, it rocked my World. I can assure you, if you don't have one yet, you'll probably end up with one in every room by the end of the first year of owning one! 

Like most things, not all diffusers are made equal.  Purpose is important, so a smaller, less robust diffusers could be suitable for a small office or spare bedroom.  However to diffuse in a more expansive space, like a living room, you will most likely need something a bit bigger.

Obviously as I was a Virgin Diffuser until the dōTERRA petal came into my life, I have strong loyalties towards her.  You can buy her through my dōTERRA link here and she comes as part of many of the enrolment kits (but you can buy her separately too).  Click here for more information on dōTERRA.

Neal's Yard also offer a range of diffusers here, and I have the Esta, Soto and Niko (I told you it becomes addictive!) The Esta and Soto are perfect for a medium sized room, and the handy Niko comes in the car with us and we use it to diffuse in hotel rooms to kill off any nasty smells and airborne pathogens.