Essential Oils 101 with Kate Block

Kate and I first bonded with over our shared love of hot yoga and breakfast meat. She quickly became my go-to healer – for everything from chakra balancing to muscle pain. Having been enrolled in a Masters in Biology program before shifting her life path towards holistic healing, she’s got a seriously special skill for breaking down complex, overwhelming knowledge, into real-life digestable tidbits. Kate is here to give you the real talk on essential oils.

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Can you give me a brief overview of Kate world?

Sure!  I’m a therapeutic body work practitioner – that means that I do traditional massage therapy, but also other forms of bodywork like energy work and reflexology and I’m trained in the use of essential oils.

I work with my clients to alleviate physical issues through massage, but I also do energy work when people are looking to work on emotional issues from a body-based perspective… and often essential oils can help with that.

Essential Oils seem to be the hottest thing. WTF are they and what does “essential oil” even mean?

An essential oil is a volatile liquid that is distilled from some type of plant tissue – so that could be the stem, the leaves, the flowers, the bark, etc. Using laboratory processes, a lot of pressure, and really, really hot water in the form of steam, we can force those volatile liquids out of the plant tissue. So, it’s not essential as in, “these oils are so great you can’t live without them.” It’s more “essential” as in the “essence” of a plant.

Why are some oils so much more expensive than others?

A couple of reasons:  A) The seasonality of the plant that’s used to create the essential oil — if it’s only available for a three month window of harvesting, that essential oil is going to be more expensive to produce.  B) The amount of plant tissue that’s need to create the essential oil. For example, it takes between 2000 and 5000 lbs of rose petals to create a single ounce of rose essential oil which is why rose essential oil is notoriously insanely expensive — it can cost between $1.50 and $3.50 a DROP!

What would be the top 3 oils to get started with if you’re on a budget?

Lavender is the universal oil. From an emotional perspective, it’s great for grounding, calming, peaceful sleep, relaxation, and stress-reduction. But it’s also really great for physiological stuff.  Lots of different skin conditions — it can help with acne, aging skin, burns, and scars.  It can also be soothing for rashes and bug bites and it’s anti-inflammatory and a mild pain reliever.

In addition to lavender, I always try to carry Peppermint around. For one, it’s amazing for getting rid of headaches. I’ll put a little on the back of my neck and, 9 times out of 10, it’ll take care of my headache quicker than ibuprofen can. And two, it’s really great for the digestive system, any tummy troubles — nausea in particular.  Peppermint is also a “stimulating” and “energizing” oil.  That means if you’re feeling lethargic or like you just can’t get yourself going, a little whiff of Peppermint can be super helpful.  I also like to apply it on the insides of my wrists if I need a quick, invigorating burst of energy.

Another one is Tea Tree. It’s awesome for acne and opening up the respiratory
system.  Tea Tree is also pretty famously anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic. When I’m washing my yoga clothes, for example, I’ll put a little in my laundry to cut the stank.  It can be effective in neutralizing some of the pathogens you’re getting exposed to. If I feel like I’m coming down with something, I’ll mix a few drops of Tea Tree, Clove, and Oregano essential oils together and slap that on the bottom of my feet.

What’s the deal with the bottom of the feet?

I know, right?  We think of our feet as super tough and callused, but they have the largest pores in the whole body, so it’s really easy for essential oils to get into your system through your feet.

And what about custom blends? Can you tell me about your Goddess blend?

So, the reason I came up with Goddess is that I was buying an essential oil blend to use as a perfume and it was pretty darn pricey. After I completed the essential oils classes that were part of my therapeutic bodywork program, I figured – hey, I know about essential oils, I know what kind of effect I want to create with this blend, I know what kind of scents I like, so — what the hell — I’m just going to try doing this myself.

One night, I took all these oils with scents that I knew I loved and that had the effects I knew I wanted – oils that were uplifting, aphrodisiacs, and that would heighten my sense of my own inner badass. I also wanted to create a blend that would open and balance all seven chakras.

I was tinkering with these oils all night and I basically got high off my ass on my own sexy awesomeness. I was texting my boyfriend all this stuff like “I’m a goddess!” and “I hope you’re ready to do some serious soul-gazing when you get home” and just some weird, weird shit. It kind of cracks me up now, but I just felt so damn good.

So that’s Goddess. And I think it ended up being pretty successful. Excuse my lack of modesty, but it smells incredible, it has exactly the effect I was shooting for, and my dude loves it. I’m making it for cheaper than I could buy it from someone else and I know exactly what’s in it and the quality of the oils that I’m using.

I’ve actually had a lot of people ask about it. So I’ve ended up selling it and some other custom blends I’ve made to a bunch of other people too.

Full disclosure, I’m one of those people. I smelled Goddess® on Kate and could not find my chill. As one of the first adopters, I now have just a tiny bit of my roller ball left. I’m rationing it for my most important, most needing-a-reminder-of-my-inner-Beyoncé moments.

The way I see it is if you want to smell amazing, why would you choose to use a commercially available perfume that has all kinds of alcohols and synthetic chemicals and that isn’t going to do anything for you in terms of your emotional state or your physical or energetic body? When you could use something made with essential oils that is all-natural, that’s going to smell fabulous, and that will also benefit you physically, emotionally, and energetically at the same time?

What are your favorite application sites for a custom blend?

The insides of my wrists, right under my collarbones, and behind my ears and down sides of my neck. If I’m looking to get frisky, maybe just inside my hip bones. And if I’m out and about, I’ll just keep through the rollerball bottle in my purse so I can reapply during the day.

If someone wanted to get their paws on your Goddess blend or reach out about getting a custom blend, how could they get ahold of you?

They could email me (littledipperht@gmail.com) or get in touch with me through the Wellness Collective Grand Rapids, which is a group of wellness practitioners I work with.

Final question. What is making you happy this week?

This is a little cheesy, but I have to say my boyfriend’s parents who have so consistently supported and encouraged me over the past year. Also, my birthday was last week and that morning, my boyfriend woke me up by blasting me with a confetti cannon.  I can’t even explain how much I love confetti, so it was literally the perfect thing.

You deserve to wake up to a confetti cannon every day. Thank you for sharing some of your awesomeness with us today.

Did that answer your EO questions? Got more? Sound off in the comments below!

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