This essential oils article was written by Jenni Hulbert and first appeared in the spring 2021 issue of our Trail Times newsletter.
Imagine bottling up the smell of the forest after an epic trail run!
Essential oils are the natural aromatic compounds extracted through steam distillation or cold pressing the seeds, flowers, stems, leaves, bark, and roots of plants. What we notice as fragrance when smelling pine needles are actually these volatile compounds (essential oils). Our sense of smell is connected to powerful physiologic and emotional responses with a direct path to the limbic system. Yes, all that from just breathing in nature’s aromas!
Essential oils can also easily penetrate the skin. Once absorbed, they can benefit the localized area and help with things like muscle soreness and skin irritations. Applying essential oils with a carrier oil (e.g. fractionated coconut oil) and light massage can also increase absorption. High-quality therapeutic essential oils may also be used as a dietary supplement for more targeted health benefits like digestion and immunity.
Always follow professional guidelines and be mindful of quality. Proper methods of growing, harvesting, and distilling are really important when it comes to purity. Poor production practices and synthetic essential oil variations are very common, so choose high-quality essential oils for optimal benefits and safety.
Now for some of the best essential oils and specific applications for runners to use for training and recovery!
- Eucalyptus or doTERRA Breathe blend: respiratory support to open airways and relieve congestion or sinus issues.
- On Guard protective blend: immune system support, natural hand cleanser, and air purification.
- Lavender: skin irritations, stress relief, restful sleep, and increasing parasympathetic nervous system activity.
- Peppermint: boosts energy and focus, supports digestive health, and relieves tension in the muscles.
- doTERRA Deep Blue soothing blend: Ideal for sore muscles, joints, and injuries.
- Turmeric: enhance cellular antioxidant enzymes, support healthy nervous and cellular function, promote immune function with internal use. Internal use has also been shown to increase curcumin potency and absorption.
- Lemongrass: tones and purifies the skin, promotes healthy circulation, and helps support the health of the nervous system.
- Tea Tree: soothes irritated skin, immune support, cleansing for toenail and fingernail issues.
- Wild Orange: cleansing to surfaces, immune support, uplifts mood and energy.
- Copaiba: cardiovascular health, immune, digestive, nervous, and respiratory system function.
If you need to support your adrenals, manage stress, or boost energy:
- Inhale 1 drop Wild Orange essential oil and 1 drop Peppermint essential oil from hands, for an energy boost.
- Apply 1 drop each of Basil and Rosemary essential oils with fractionated coconut oil to the lower back a couple times each day to support healthy adrenal function.
- Inhale 1-2 drops Lavender from your hands and massage into your ear lobes before bed to help you relax.
If you need to support your immune system:
- Apply 2-3 drops of On Guard essential oil, diluted in fractionated coconut oil to the spine or take 1-2 drops of On Guard in water a few times a day for acute issues.
- Inhale 1-2 drops of Eucalyptus or Breathe blend for respiratory support and to open airways before a training session or as needed seasonally.
If you need muscle or joint support:
- Apply Deep Blue or Peppermint to the area of concern and massage.
- Soak in a bath of Epsom salts (1 cup) with 2-3 drops of Cypress and Lavender to promote circulation and ease tension.
- Apply 2-3 drops of Lemongrass diluted appropriately for ligament or tendon issues to support a healthy inflammatory response, ease discomfort, and promote tissue regeneration.
Jenni Hulburt is a fitness specialist teaching movement that’s part cyclical, seasonal, sweaty, and soulful. She has a Bachelor of Science and Masters degree in Exercise Physiology and Sport Psychology. As a student of nature, and wellness advocate with doTERRA, she works essential oils as plant allies, teaching others about these gifts of the earth for well-being. Get Jenni’s free essential oil workshop to create your own wellness apothecary: www.jennihulburt.com/essentials