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How Essential Oils Are Manly

The real man's toolkit:
essential oils and duck tape. 
"Yeah, I use essential oils."

Silence.

This is the normal reaction I get why I, as an adult male human, tell other men that I use essential oils instead of things like aspirin, Tums or Rolaids, Ben Gay, or any number of other pharmaceuticals.

There's this impression out there that essential oils are girly, I guess, or that they're like most other products that are primarily for making things smell nicer: they're for the ladies. Or even that they're new agey and woo-woo - to be used only when listening to Windham Hill CDs and cleansing your chakras.

Real men don't care about smells, right? They thrive on sweat, piss and vinegar. They belch, fart, and otherwise release smells into the air that are simultaneously hilarious and relieving to the body. They get upset because their wives bought decorative soaps and guest towels for the bathroom that they're not allowed to use. They frown at potpourri and get irritated that they can't plug in their phone charger because there's a strange liquid-holding item plugged into the wall releasing "fresh pranayama dew" scent into their bedroom.

And why the heck would you use oils when you can go to the drugstore and grab some aspirin or something to solve the problem you're encountering? That just doesn't make any sense!

Well, let's take a look at what essential oils are, what they do, and exactly why you, as a man, should use them.

What are Essential Oils? 

Essential oils are, very simply, oils from various plants that have been extracted from the plant in a way that makes those oils retain many of the properties of that plant. At the very simplest level, this is done by squeezing the plant or passing steam through the plant. The oils are collected and you have your product.

This tends to make for a very potent liquid, full of concentrated chemical compounds that can have a great number of various effects on the human body (or any body, actually - many people use oils with their pets and such, too).

How do they work? 

Essential oils work in lots of different ways, because they're filled with lots of different chemical compounds.

They are generally used in one of three ways:

1. Topically

This means that they're used via actually rubbing them into your skin. Just as your skin excretes liquids like perspiration, it can also absorb liquids like essential oils. 

2. Aromatically

Simple: you breathe them in. You can combine a topical treatment with an aromatic one by simply rubbing the oils together in your hands and taking a deep breath. Or you can use a diffuser, which is basically the same as the vaporizer your mom used to put in your room when you had bronchitis as a kid, only this one has drops of essential oils in it instead of Vicks.

3. Ingestion

You can swallow the oils in many cases, depending on their quality and the "heat" of the oils in question (some are so concentrated that they can irritate or burn the lining of the mouth or other sensitive surfaces in the body).

What happens when they get into your body?

Essential Oils have a number of various chemical compounds in them, as we said: terpenes, esters, oxides, alcohols, phenols, ketones, aldehydes, and more. These compounds can work in many different ways.

Some of them will trigger your brain to react in a specific way to cause an effect in the body. Much as the smell of a steak can trigger your brain to prepare for a meal by starting the digestive process and getting your stomach rumbling, the scent of an essential oil can trigger signals to the limbic system and cause effects to the human body. 

Others, like phenols, will interact with receptor sites for various chemicals in the body's nervous system and elsewhere, "cleaning" them and allowing in the good chemicals and removing the bad ones to allow for better functioning. This is frequently called the "blood-brain barrier" and functions like a sieve - keeping out the bad stuff and keeping in the good stuff the brain needs. 

Some of these compounds even create environments that viruses and undesirable bacteria can't live. And others help to repair DNA and reprogram the cell memory to create proper function - acting as an agent of epigenetics to make sure the most advantageous DNA code is being used

There are many more functions that the compounds in oils have, these are just a few of the most commonly understood ones. It's fascinating to watch the research going on to see just how these compounds can and do help us. 

Suffice to say that there's more science to these things, though, than most people truly understand. Basically, though, they're doing the same things as drugs but, because we evolved for hundreds of thousands of years using plants instead of drugs, they aren't harmful.

Yeah, but "real men" don't use that stuff! 

Okay, it's time to discuss this misguided notion. As I said early on, there's this idea that essential oils are in the same category as things like potpourri, decorative soaps, juice cleanses, and the like in the manliness department. But let's look at what I, as a man, understand as the tenets of being a "real man."

We'll call this the "real men" checklist:

1. Real men take care of themselves for their families and themselves.

Here's the big one.

It's important to be able to help your family survive and thrive in the world. And to do that, you need to be in good health. No question about it.

But, for some reason, that has manifested itself in our society as what marketers want us to believe. You have to take proper prescriptions. You have to use "better living through chemistry" to make yourself as healthy as possible. And you have to grin and bear the effects of drugs in order to ward off the diseases that all people get as they age.

But as movements like the Paleo lifestyle, rewilding, and other methodologies have shown us in recent years, just living in an environment that is more in harmony with the way we evolved can do all of these things. That means treating ourselves as a part of nature and its effects, not as something separate from it. It's been shown time and again that the more we live in accordance with our evolutionary history, the healthier we are.

Things like ingestion of wild foods, understanding of the gut microbiome, and plenty of time spent in nature have all been proven time and again to alleviate many of the conditions that people in western society (and increasingly everywhere else as western industrial culture spreads) suffer from.

For example: cancer is mostly unknown in hunter-gatherer societies. So is heart disease. As are Alzheimer's, ADHD and Autism, and most other neurological conditions we seem to be hearing more about of late. The list of stuff that hunter-gatherers don't suffer from is pretty immense.

To many researchers and users, essential oils are right in step with these ideas. They're made from plants that are found in nature. And they're a return to our using these plants in a way that we've evolved to do.

Which leads into...

2. Real men make stuff. 

Oh yeah, guys like to put stuff together and make things. Humans are tool makers and tool users. It's part of our evolution. One of the reasons we've evolved the way we have while still remaining omnivores is that the capability to make tools was part of our evolution - you don't need huge teeth and claws when you can make fire and spears and the like.

Essential oils go right along with that. They're like the poster child for finding something in our environment and making it better.

And there are tons of ways that essential oils can be combined and added to and the like to make stuff that is awesome and manly. From shaving cream to cologne to mouthwash to after shave and more, essential oils are a whole new toolkit for guys to experiment with.

3. Real men figure out the best ways to do things. 

Guys don't have time to mess around. There are things to do, places to go, people to see. And we want to get those things done in the most effective ways possible.

And it's clear that modern products like drugs, cleaning products, health and beauty products, and such aren't the best ways to get things done. They destroy the environment and generally cause more problems than they solve.

The best essential oils, on the other hand, have the dual benefit of being great for the land they're sourced from and being best for us by not despoiling our body chemistry. We all know that the chemicals in many of our modern products are causing problems for the environment and our own health. (We may not want to admit it, but we know it.)

4. Real men change their environment to be most advantageous to us. 

Some may say that this is what our industrial world is all about - but I'd beg to differ because science is showing us that it's really NOT most advantageous to us. It's dirty, it reduces the amount of movement we do each day, it's full of toxins, and the treating-the-single-symptom way that our medical system seems to work has shown to be ineffective (modern medicine could be the biggest killer of people in this day and age).

Essential oils, on the other hand, are advantageous. They fix problems and do it without causing more problems. Simple as that. The fact that they smell great (and not just flowery - we'll get to more stuff on that in future posts) is beside the point. These things are awesome!

So there's some food for thought. If you're a guy who wants to make things better for yourself and your loved ones, then essential oils are a great way to do this.

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