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I Received An Essential Oil Reading & Here's What It Told Me About My Health

Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
By Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Portrait Of A Young Woman With Essential Oil
Image by Federica Giacomazzi / Stocksy
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Essential oils contain a slew of therapeutic benefits—some are great for stress relief, others are top-notch for sleep, and plenty contain healthy antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. 

Given the vast number of beneficial oils out there, it can be overwhelming to decide which blend to incorporate into your routine. According to holistic esthetician Tammy Fender, why not let your own body make the call? Your body can tell you exactly what it needs if you only take the time to listen—so she offered me a signature "essential oil reading" to help me tap into those subconscious signs. 

Discover my results ahead, plus what your own favorite oils can tell you about your health. 

What is an essential oil reading?

Let me start by saying that an essential oil reading is not a medical tool. It's a service offered by Fender and her team that is pretty unique to her practice, but it features elements based in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda

"The sense of smell has a direct connection to the brain," Fender tells me. "We use it as a diagnostic tool that works on a physical, emotional, psychological, and ethereal level." She offers 13 oils—meant to represent 13 physical organs in the body—all housed in tiny amber vials without any identifying labels (aside from numbers one through 13). 

The client selects their top three favorite scents, which signals to Fender and her team which part of the body they should focus on most. "What appeals to you at the moment is what's beneficial," she explains, and it's dynamic (meaning, you could book another reading and wind up with totally different results based on your energy levels). "From there, you would come into the treatment room with any of our therapists, and we would use those custom-blend [oils] into your treatment." 

While traditional Chinese medicine schools don't necessarily teach this essential oil work, "One of the five ways that we diagnose [is through smell]," notes Debbie Kung, DAOM, LAc, board-certified doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. "I look at your tongue and take your pulse—those are the first two big ones. [And] smell is one of them, too." 

That said, Kung knows a handful of acupuncturists who do use essential oils in their treatments for their therapeutic properties. "It just adds to the relaxation. It adds to the sensory experience that your body takes to heal," she says. 

She also mentions a subset of acupuncture called "esoteric acupuncture," in which the patient smells various essential oils and chooses which ones they gravitate toward before beginning their treatment. "It's a mix of traditional Chinese medicine plus Ayurvedic [medicine]," Kung explains. "There are seven essential oils that we use, and depending on what that person needs, we'll sometimes use that essential oil for that chakra if it needs a little bit of a boost… It's a different way of practicing traditional Chinese medicine because it involves a chakra system." 

From Kung's explanation, I'd wager Fender's essential oil reading resembles an esoteric acupuncture approach, with a skin care focus as opposed to needles. 

My experience & results 

I had a virtual essential oil reading (since Fender has spas in Delray Beach and Palm Beach, Florida), in which I received 13 little bottles of essential oils in the mail. Before hopping on a Zoom call with Fender herself, I gave each bottle a whiff, selected my top three, and sent her my picks.

It turns out, I had chosen thyme, clary sage, and pine needle—an interesting trio, Fender tells me, as two out of the three actually work with the same region of the body. "Clary sage and thyme work with your kidneys and your adrenals," she notes. As you may know, your adrenal glands are in charge of making cortisol (the famous stress hormone), which means my body might be holding on to stress. 

This doesn't surprise me—aren't we all overworked these days?—but it does align with a previous acupuncture session I had with Kung, who noticed chi stagnation along the kidney meridians. That coincidence is not lost on me. 

Pine needle, on the other hand, connects to the lungs and thyroid, Fender tells me. "It's very oxygenating," she says, and it's lauded for mental clarity. "When we create more oxygen in our environment, we bring more nutrients to the cells, and we have more head space, if you will." 

If I was in Fender's studio, she would definitely drop some pine needle in her oil blend before massaging my neck and decolletage. But at home, she tells me to drop some pine into a carrier oil (jojoba, olive, etc.) before applying it around the lung area—the chest, decolletage, and the lymph nodes under my arms. I could also add a few drops into my go-to body oil and slather it all over for full-body oxygenation. 

"At a different time, maybe before bed, take a drop of clary sage and put it behind the ears," she adds. "You could even put it on the creases of the legs to support all of the pressure points that are pumping so much blood through the body, or through the top of the head through the scalp. We have great absorption there as well." 

Of course, I'll need to mix it with some sort of carrier oil before applying since you should always dilute potent EOs. (On that note: Essential oils can be irritating for easily reactive skin; if you're sensitive to EOs, an essential oil reading probably isn't for you in the first place.)

I didn't have any groundbreaking health revelations from my essential oil reading, but it's interesting that the oils I picked reflected my main well-being concerns: stress, brain fog, and thyroid function. Fender had no idea of my health history, which makes me consider how many of the potent EOs you choose actually choose you, for lack of a better phrase.

The takeaway 

If anything, my essential oil reading makes me realize that our sense of smell is more powerful than we think in terms of overall health. I've been incorporating my chosen scents into my body care routine, and overall, I feel good—thanks to those balancing oils or the mere act of self-massage, I'm not sure, but I won't dismiss the former for my sense of mental clarity. 

"There are a lot of things we don't know about our universe," says Kung. "We're still learning about the body and how it attunes to energy." What we gravitate toward might just be what our bodies crave in order to heal.

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