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Jytte Glintbory has always felt a connection to nature to support her wellbeing. After her husband had a a health scare, it led them on a journey to source top quality essential oil from around the globe. 

Was it a whim or intuition? Jytte Glintborg ponders out loud and surmises she possibly still doesn’t know. Eight years ago, when the existing owners of Christchurch’s Zurma Botanical Oil Studio, an essential oil and natural health business, said it was for sale, within a split second Jytte had offered to buy it.

Perhaps it was an unconscious decision, she decides, as she has always had a deep connection to nature and its healing benefits. And after 40 years as a massage therapist, there was a practical drawcard that it could be something for her to do next.

But life, as it sometimes tends to do, delivered Jytte and her husband Tremane Barr, a curveball. Tremane was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver.

“He was given about six months. We declined treatment because they couldn’t offer much anyway. But it set us on a course that we were very dedicated to finding everything natural that could help and essential oils were part of that, as well as a large range of other things,” she says.

And now, hearing Tremane pottering away in the background, it means this story has a happy ending. Seven years after the diagnosis at Christchurch Hospital, he is still alive and well.

“But it was the catalyst, and we became very serious about optimal health and wellbeing because we know how important it is,” she says.

Their journey to find the “absolute best quality oils” led them via the internet all around the globe, developing a network of professionals who guided them to the best sources.

“For every oil we get a report which specifies each component in the oil so we can see the quality. Some companies won’t supply this, so we buy from suppliers who have that documentation so we know what we stock is very potent. We don’t go for price, we go for quality,” she says.

Simply because, she says, their family knows how important health is, and people need to have trust that a product will help support it.

“We have a few key people we work with; very small companies that specialise. Some of them are a little bit of a closed group and to get in took recommendations from other people. This is because they are exceptionally dedicated to quality,” she says.

The rise of essential oil in recent years has led to harmful improper use, says Jytte, and though essential oils are natural, they are a hundred times more concentrated than their plant counterparts and must be used properly.

Working with Jytte and Tremane is their daughter Kiri Barr-Glintborg, Matt Wilham and two aromatherapists, Belinda Nicholls and Gillian Parkinson. The team has been kept busy as people seek support for anxiety and health boosters with the onset of Covid-19. The team develop their own blends, which can take weeks to test.

Jytte’s passion for essential oils is evident throughout the conversation. She speaks knowledgeably about them, in a way that only people with a true connection to their work do. She describes recently opening a new box of oils like an excited child would when opening a present.

Even though it made no sense at the time, trusting her intuition all those years ago has led Jytte and her family very much in the right direction.

How do essential oils work?
Each essential oil has different benefits and gets into the bloodstream by being absorbed through the skin or when inhaled.
“They can also work locally. For example, if you have an essential oil which is an anti-inflammatory, it will work on that area,” Jytte says.

The don’t dos
Never apply undiluted oils topically to your skin. Essential oils are a hundred times more concentrated than their plant counterparts; if they’re not diluted with a carrier oil before applying to skin, you could get a rash, feel sick or develop other symptoms. For those who have been using them a long time undiluted, they may no longer work and be tolerated by the body, says Jytte.

Never ingest essential oils
They are very strong and can cause damage to the oesophagus and liver.

Oil and water don’t mix

Some people think if they put essential oils in water it means they can ingest them. But even if you shake the bottle, says Jytte, they don’t mix; instead, they become little particles. This is important when using essential oils in baths.
“Think about what hits the water first on your body, the very delicate skin; you can really burn yourself,” she says. Dilute them first in a carrier oil.
Diffusers are the exception, as they are not applied to the body but inhaled.

For using topically, the safe amount is 1 per cent dilution with a carrier oil (see below). As a guide, 3 drops of essential oil to 10ml carrier oil; 6 drops to 20ml carrier oil and 15 drops to 50ml carrier oil. But it is always important to check the instructions that come with the essential oil.
There are different dilution rates for babies and the elderly, so care is required. Only those professionally trained use higher percentages, and then only for a very short time, says Jytte.

Carrier oils
The ‘carrier oil’ is what you use to dilute your essential oil in order for it to be used on your skin. Look to nut or seed oils, like almond, apricot or blackcurrant. You can also use lotions and moisturisers with the same dilution rate of 1 per cent.
“Carrier oils can have their own wonderful properties; they can be so moisturising. Some are very calming, like tamanu oil, which can help eczema and psoriasis,” says Jytte.

In an average-sized room, aim for about six drops of essential oil to 100ml of water, and don’t have it going for more than an hour. You can, however, switch it back on after another hour has lapsed. Have it on too long and you may start to feel unwell – with a headache or nausea, for example.
“After a while, the scent disappears because you have become so infused and can’t smell it anymore. The enjoyment is no longer there.”

How do I know which oil to use?
Consider what you are trying to achieve (calm, motivation, health) and do some research around which oils are known for supporting the desired result. Not every essential oil will resonate the same way with everyone, however, so trust what you are drawn to.
“For example, vetiver is very grounding and soothes the nervous system, but not everyone responds well to it,” Jytte explains. “For some it is lavender; others don’t respond to lavender. At different times we will be drawn to different oils, depending on what we need at that time.”

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