Audio: Lavender and Balsam Fir

Doug Corrigan: Good day to you and welcome to this edition of Young Living’s audio training series. I’m Doug Corrigan, Senior Director of Training and Education for Young Living Essential Oils; very pleased to be with you today and discuss 2 essential oil singles that are actually grown and originate at Young Living farms, specifically in the area of our farms in Idaho. From the beautiful St. Maries Farm in Idaho we’re going to discuss St. Maries Lavender; and then of course from the Highland Flats Farm just up the road from St. Maries is where we grow the Balsam Fir. As this is coming to you in January we will be in the middle of the harvest so consider this a harvest celebration! But whether it’s harvest time or not that you happen to listen, the information that we’re going to share should be pretty timeless because these 2 oils really epitomize what sets Young Living apart as the world leader in essential oils; I mean a really significant number of our essential oils are actually grown on our own farms – either in Ecuador; or Mona, the farm in Utah; then also in Idaho; and there are other farms that we utilize and through all that you can start to understand what makes Young Living so, so different. We’re proud of that singular opportunity we have to focus strict attention to detail through this whole process that we call Seed to Seal®; from the seeds sewn in the ground to the plants harvested and then beyond that, insuring that our oils are the purest and most authentic oils available anywhere, and also that they are the most effective. No other essential oil company can claim such involvement in the entire process in the depth and breadth of their line like Young Living; really we are unequaled in this regard. You can search high and low; you can find other companies that are good at parts of the supply chain with maybe 2 of the 5 steps that we consider necessary to ensure purity, authenticity, and efficacy; these things ensure that we’ll provide the most therapeutic benefits. Only Young Living diligently monitors all 5 of these important steps, and of course each one of these important steps has many other sub-portions and sub-steps so to say. Let’s just briefly take this opportunity while we’re at harvest time to discuss this vital Seed to Seal® process.

We’ll start at step #1 – the foundation of pure and authentic essential oils is really making sure that the seeds are the right seeds and that they’re planted in the right soil because be what it may, a plant will never become more than the soil that it’s grown in. Potent essential oils come from the right plant species that are carefully identified and authenticated by Young Living experts through scientific research, field study, university partnerships and on-site planning and certification.

Step #2 includes careful cultivation on one of Young Living’s 6 global farms or special partner cooperative farms where we hand-in-hand have helped develop the practice at these different farms. Young Living Essential Oils has mastered the cultivation of pure, potent essential oils and utilizes this knowledge around the world as we meet with these cooperative farm partners and we certify that the growing processes on each of these farms is uniform and meets Young Living’s strict attention to quality and our quality standards.

Step #3 is distillation. This is another place where Young Living is really unequaled in our experience, and so much of it revolves around Gary Young, Young Living’s Founder and President, He studied the distillation process throughout the world but originally came to know the distillation process by studying with some of the French Masters. He has refined and mastered procedures to produce the finest essential oils in the world. What’s so critical there is distillation with the end therapy in mind for medicinal-grade essential oils and that is what Gary is distilling for; not a certain scent or a certain taste or anything like that – he has in mind to maintain its natural therapeutic properties. I love the story that initially when Gary found the distillation equipment that met his stringent standards it wasn’t readily available for purchase, so he custom-built much of his own distillery equipment, and he still refines so much of his own distillery equipment to this day. This unique equipment is now used at Young Living distilleries and produces the purest oils in the world. Young Living’s proprietary low-pressure, low-temperature steam distillation process insures that the beneficial plant compounds in every batch of essential oil remain uncompromised during the entire extraction process.

Step #4: Before we go on to the last 2 steps it’s important for people to realize (for people who are new), the first 3 steps are really the most important steps to ensure quality and efficacy. We found through our many years of involvement with essential oils that if we do these first things right, then the last few steps are really there just to safeguard that something hasn’t gone wrong that hasn’t been visible to us. This is where we’re so different from some of these other companies; these last 2 steps are the only things that many of them do. But with that said, let’s go on and talk about why testing essential oils after they’ve been carefully distilled to ensure that nothing has gone wrong, that they contain the optimal balance of bioactive compounds – insurance, so to say –is still a vital part of the Seed to Seal® process because you always have to check your blind spot. You learned that back in driver’s education, right? Young Living has invested in the costly equipment that’s necessary to conduct this thorough testing. Young Living uses its own internal laboratories; it’s so critical that a company has its own internal labs and the reason why is that constant testing, especially with Young Living’s vast product line, all the different oils that we receive to make our blends and the single oils that we receive to sell as singles, these all need to be tested batch for batch for batch, and if you don’t have your own internal labs and have that infrastructure built it’s easy for people to just skip over that process because it can be so costly. If you’re constantly testing and re-testing using 3rd-party laboratories, that is a very costly process so Young Living invested in its own labs, its own expertise, but here again checking our blind spot – when we have a question about an oil that we’ve analyzed and it’s just not adding up right or we think that maybe something has gone wrong in the analysis, we also utilize some of the best 3rd-party labs in the world to audit; again, to check our own blind spots, to make sure that something hasn’t gone wrong or that something might be off with our own equipment –checking and then double-checking to make sure that Young Living meets or exceeds all purity and potency standards, and then each essential oil must pass this finished-product stringent testing.

With step #5 Young Living completes the Seed to Seal® process by the careful sealing of each bottle, with the way we bottle in the amber glass bottles and store them in temperature-controlled areas. When essential oils are protected from oxygen and light they are very robust and can be preserved almost indefinitely. We talk about essential oils that were preserved in the Egyptian tombs and were still active after thousands of years – that’s the kind of power and potency they have if you protect them from oxygen and light. We go to great lengths to make sure that is the case.

As you know Gary Young meticulously researches everything about an essential oil, including its seed and the land that it will best grow on before it’s distilled, tested and sealed for delivery to our customers. This of course he has learned first-hand in his own laboratory; really the birthplace of Young Living Farms in St. Maries, Idaho. That wasn’t his first farm, he experimented in his own back yard in Spokane, Washington for awhile when he was first getting started, but this is really the first farm where Gary had the opportunity to put all that he had learned to the test and of course that started a whole adventure of learning. Prior to purchasing this farm in 1992 these 200 acres of pristine farmland in St. Maries, Idaho had never been plowed or subjected to chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers of any kind. This pure soil and climate was surrounded by an evergreen forest and it was far from the pollution of urban centers, and it made St. Maries an ideal place to start experimenting with essential oils. And why not experiment with probably the most famous essential oil in the world, Lavender essential oil?

Let’s talk about St. Maries Lavender and just know that that is the pure and true Lavender that is grown there in St. Maries, Idaho. Lavender – St. Maries or otherwise – is considered by many natural healers to be a virtual medicine chest in a bottle because of its diversity of uses. The most important and well-studied benefit of lavender (of course it could depend on your perspective as far as how important it is, but let’s call this the most well-studied benefit of lavender) is that it’s well-known to promote feelings of relaxation and help with feelings of over-stress and nervous tension. It has a significant and demonstrable effect at balancing out the nervous system by activating and elevating – inspiring, so to say – a function of the parasympathetic part of the nervous system, which helps to balance out the sympathetic part of the nervous system. So here we have fight-or-flight in the sympathetic side; and then we have the parasympathetic which is often known as the rest-and-digest so it helps all the other pieces; the metabolism, the immune system, all those different things are strengthened when that part of the nervous system is inspired. Of course anyone who has studied this very much at all knows that this is what we’re dealing with in today’s society – the cortisol levels are constantly going up, we’re constantly being bombarded with information that stresses us out, and that really elevates the function of the sympathetic nervous system which keeps us in continual fight-or-flight, high-cortisol, high-stress hormones and that wears us out. So what we want to do is inspire that other part of our nervous system and many many studies, more than we can go into here, have found that the scent of lavender has a calming effect and normalizes your stress response profoundly. When one makes even a casual effort to better understand the stress response, science is showing us that one would be very wise to make a far more concentrated and deliberate effort to find ways to balance out this response and relax. We need to realize that this is so much more than just winding down at night and getting a proper night’s sleep. That is an important part of helping our minds to relax and reset, that is critical; but throughout the day we need to find little moments where we can get more balance and get our emotions in check, this will not only ease nervous tension but will also improve performance tremendously.

Some have the false idea that using lavender throughout the day will make them sleepy, but in actuality it can help us to be far more focused and less distracted. Both of the oils that we’re going to talk about today have this effect on me. Now the effect for me is a little more pronounced with the Balsam Fir and I’ll digress a little bit to say that both Lavender and Balsam Fir have really helped me in regard to just breathing those in, taking a moment, and relaxing. It can be that simple to just get a really great perspective, a grounding part of the day.

Now when I breathe in Balsam Fir and close my eyes and concentrate I am almost instantly transported to any one of the hundreds of different times I’ve hiked through a grove of fir trees and breathed in the mountain air and that beautiful fir aroma. I can instantly feel those experiences and that natural living energy. I’ve grown to have the same response with Lavender, probably through my associations with the Young Living Farms. Anyone who has been to one of those farms and has had the chance to even just touch a fresh lavender spike, put it in their hands and smell that beautiful aroma, knows how instantly that can transport them to another place; a good and positive place where our emotions are in check and we’re grounded in the moment. It’s such a critical part of helping us through the stress response!

Just to give an example, inhaling calming and soothing lavender essential oil promoted relaxation in mice that had been injected with caffeine! These were mice that were specifically revved up. I always think this study is interesting because they did everything they could to rev these mice up and then they wanted to see if lavender would help in these over-stressed, over-stimulated mice and it did. It helped to return their motility, it helped their ability to move spontaneously and balanced them back to near-normal levels as reported in the November/December 1991 edition of the Zeitschrift fur Naturforshung, a German journal of biosciences. Lavender promotes balance both physically and emotionally and again, because mental stress is considered an independent risk factor for many diseases and cardiovascular disease is at the top of the list, university researchers evaluated the effect of lavender on cortisol levels and circulation. Remarkably, inhaling lavender for 30 minutes significantly reduced serum cortisol levels and considerably increased coronary circulation. This is what I was talking about earlier – when the cortisol levels are balanced out we get more into the rest-and-digest and that increases our metabolism, the circulation balances out, and we’re just not so tense anymore. These scientists who reported their findings in the 2008 Journal of Cardiology concluded that “Lavender aromatherapy has relaxation effects, and may have beneficial acute effects on coronary circulation.” So if you want to help your heart get rid of some stress; you want to get rid of some stress, Lavender essential oil is tremendous for that as well as nervous tension and all kinds of different related nervous-system type imbalances.

This special oil grown on the St. Maries Farm in Northern Idaho is highly regarded for its ability to help us emotionally. One of the things that the St. Maries Lavender does, I think even a little better than just Lavender and this is my own personal experience, is as a skin healer and a beauty aid. Of course lavender became famous when discovered by the French scientist Rene Gattefosse who discovered lavender’s amazing ability to promote tissue regeneration and aid wound healing when he was burned in his laboratory. Lavender is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, has some antifungal capacities and all kinds of things and it’s been traditionally used to cleanse minor cuts, help to heal bruises faster. For any skin irritation of any kind lavender is a great bet. I find the St. Maries Lavender to be even a little bit better in this area of tissue regeneration and wound healing, especially if you want something that gives a little better skin condition and helps with dryness, burns, stings; I like St. Maries Lavender in this regard. I also really enjoy the different scent of the St. Maries Lavender; some people will argue that they like the original grown in Mona or grown in France, and of course Young Living has a lavender farm in France. Pick the Lavender oil that you like the best; the most important part is that you enjoy using it and that you consume it frequently, but in the end I quite like the St. Maries scent and I especially like it in regard to its skin applications. It’s an excellent choice for winding down before bed; we use this all the time in our household to just relax and get a restful night’s sleep but again it’s not just for nighttime. Like I said before it can be used throughout the day, but what a really great way to just relax and get your mind in a great place to get a good night’s sleep; a few drops on the pillow or diffused in the bedroom can really help you to get a more restful, deeper and more profound sleep with its calming, relaxing, balancing properties. This is a concept that is not new to herbalists, but it really acts as an adaptogen – wherever the body finds itself, wherever the nervous system finds itself, it tends to bring balance, it tends to help us find a middle ground. It normalizes and regulates systems according to what the body needs.

Now we’re going to move into Balsam Fir. I already told you a little about my connection to Balsam Fir – I love this oil as an aromatic, it’s tremendous, not just in the wintertime but throughout the year. Now and then Balsam Fir is just the perfect thing to diffuse. It is of course classically associated with Christmas, but I would implore people to not just use Balsam Fir aromatically during Christmas because it can have a profound effect on our emotions in a positive way and it does so with me, especially when you have powerful associations with the outdoors and good experiences that you’ve had in the outdoors. Its warm aroma is grounding, as we talked about. A lot of the tree oils, because they are so firmly rooted in Mother Earth, have this effect to firmly root us to Mother Earth as we use them, I believe, and they stimulate the mind and relax the body. They may also help to maintain emotional balance as we’ve been talking about with removing emotional blocks, and encouraging a strong sense of self and strength and inner peace. It might be a little bit different for every single person, but know that for the most part people using Balsam Fir will experience these things that we just discussed.

That’s just the beginning for Balsam Fir; it is a versatile oil. This incredible oil has a long history of use in folk medicine, where it was used extensively for its respiratory and circulatory supportive properties. All the fir oils are rich in a lot of bioflavonoids which are really helpful to the circulatory system, and of course they also have a great effect at relaxing and opening the airways in the respiratory system. It has also been used traditionally to aid occasional joint, muscle, ligament, and tendon discomfort. I love using it in this regard because the minute you start to use it you get the double whammy – the double whammy in a good way! You get the great respiratory help and circulatory help and of course the emotional help by breathing it in, and then also it has a great ability to soothe inflammation and to really help heal faster. Native Americans used almost every part of the fir trees as medicine to manage a variety of ailments from treating sores to respiratory discomfort. Balsam Fir is something that we have around the house constantly; it’s always available in the car as well because the minute you get any kind of an injury or bruise or scrape or something you can apply Balsam Fir. It’s totally gentle and doesn’t sting when you apply it; it’s just a healer from the get-go. I find that it’s important and it actually works better if you apply it as quickly as possible. Not to mean that you can’t apply it after the injury has occurred, but it works best if you apply it as soon after the injury or insult has happened. Start applying it, keep it on there and keep reapplying.

Balsam Fir is also very well known for its role in the Deep Relief Roll-On which of course is a flagship product of Young Living. It’s also a favorite among women to help balance their mood; I guess it works for men and women because it always balances my mood and make me feel good! Simply diffuse it or add a few drops to your hands, and classic aromatherapy-in-a-moment is to cup them over your nose and mouth and inhale, and just get transported to a different place – a good, positive, and different place.

We could go on and on, literally; both of these oils are just mainstays in our home and a great way to tell people the story of Young Living. If you have not had the opportunity at some point to go the Highland Flats Farm when they are harvesting Spruce or Fir or whatever might be on the docket that year or to help replant in the reforestation of the fir, what a great thing to be involved with! Talk about a grounding experience! More than just smelling the oils is to see and experience where they’re grown, the care that is taken, and the energy that’s expended to produce these wonderful gifts – again not just with the winter harvest but at the summer harvest you have the opportunity to participate in the St. Maries harvest to harvest lavender and see where it’s grown or melissa, that’s another tremendous oil to have a connection with. You can really only experience all these things through one company that I’m aware of and that is Young Living! Go and see for yourself what makes the Seed to Seal® process so special and you will never look at that bottle of essential oil the same. Until next time I wish you the best as you share Young Living and our story with the world, and I wish you personally Godspeed in your journey for health.

Audio, Farms

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