I come from a community where half the members are health nuts who love raw vegetables, avoid sugar, exercise regularly and medicate themselves and their families with nothing but garlic and essential oils. The other half eat junk food all the time, watch too many movies, and will never say no to meat or anything deep-fried. You can guess which half I belong to.
In spite of my unhealthy ways, I have one claim to natural health, and that is my little bottle of peppermint essential oil, that I carry everywhere. Peppermint oil has gotten me through the unbearable nausea of swerving roller-coaster bus journeys, not to mention blocked noses, colds and headaches.
A few months ago I was on holiday with my family and my two little nieces got sick. They were both nauseous and feverish, and as you may know, there is nothing more miserable than a sick child, apart from a sick child without her mother. The grandmother and this aunt did their best, but they were still pretty miserable. We gave them medicine, prayed with them, and tried to talk to them to get their minds off it. Then I remembered my peppermint oil.
“Do you want me to put a little peppermint oil on your temples? It helped me when I was nauseous in the past.”
They immediately agreed. (I think they would have agreed even if I had suggested an anti-nausea dance in the rain. They were desperate.)
I pulled out the bottle, and sine I had used it in the past, didn’t read the instructions. I dropped a few drops onto my niece’s hand, and then directed her to rub a bit on her temples and the back of her neck. I was pretty generous with the oil, thinking logically “More peppermint oil = more health and wellness.” My other niece used some too.
Within a few seconds all hell broke loose. Both my nieces started screaming at the top of their lungs “IT’S BURNING! IT’S BURNING! AHHHHHHHHHH!” while tears streamed from their eyes and they desperately hopped around the room in obvious pain.
I was startled, wondering for a moment if they were overreacting, but their continued screams quickly disillusioned me. Guilt consumed me, as I rushed them to the bathroom too try to wash the oil off. (I was kindly informed by an essential oil professional just last week that that was the worst thing I could have done, as water would have just pushed it deeper.. somehow, and what I should have used to clean it off was some other kind of oil. Yes, please address all future essential-oil related questions to me, I am an expert.)
For about five long minutes they screamed and cried and I beat myself up (completely figuratively). “What could have gone wrong? I’ve used it before. Do you think it could have gotten more concentrated with age?” I put a little bit on myself and it burned me too. Then I finally read the instructions on the bottle. Who said only men hate reading instructions? They contained two bits of pertinent information: ‘Mix one drop of peppermint oil with five drops of olive oil’ and ‘Keep away from eyes.’
I guess I should return my Aunt of the Year award. So brilliant. Who could take two sick, miserable little girls and only make things ten times worse? Would they ever trust me again? Maybe I should graciously bow out of this whole child care thing.
Suddenly I noticed a silence interrupting my self-recrimination. Then the seven year old yelled, “I’m healed! It worked! I don’t feel vomity any more! Praise the Lord!”
It was true. They both bounced back to normal for the day at least. The next day one was feeling sick again. She sidled up to me and with a sparkle n her eye asked, “Could I have some of that peppermint oil again?”
Give me back that Aunt of the Year award.
(Don’t worry, I mixed it with cooking oil the next time we used it, and applied it far away from her eyes.)