Do Essential Oils Really Work?–An Interview with doTERRA Wellness Advocate Tonya Keener

After ordering some dragon fruit tea from the uptown Starbucks, Tonya and I found a table with an umbrella to relax under. Conversation just bubbled up and flowed so that what felt like 30 minutes was 2 hours later and we hadn’t even begun the interview! It took 2 men packing up the umbrellas and loudly scraping the steel chairs along concrete to wake us up to the world around us. And that’s how it is to be with Tonya. One immediately feels comfortable and heard in her presence. Her energy is relaxed and easy going, grounded and clear. I could easily understand why an influx of people have turned to her since this March, reaching out about their health, their anxiety, and their grief. Tonya feels nothing but gratitude to be able to help so many during this time. This is the dream she had for her life– she’s living in her purpose, doing what she was designed to do.

So Tonya, you’ve been in the health industry for over 20 years. But in 2014, you left the corporate world to begin your own practice with essential oils. What inspired the switch? How did you begin your journey with essential oils?

I started because I was having a lot of auto-immune symptoms and the doctors didn’t know what else to do but put me on a medication with a lot of possible side effects. I wanted to explore some natural options. Soon after, a nurse friend of mine was using essential oils on her son with asthma. So I decided to research it, and in doing so, learned about how powerful Frankincense is and how it has been used since biblical times. In fact, oils are used all over the world and have been for much longer than Western medicine. At that point, I felt I had nothing to lose. It was really coming from a place of desperation. So I started using Frankincense every day and had a positive response. I also had been experiencing chronic migraines and Frankincense helped with that.

I kept investigating essential oils and decided to share it with my mother when she was suffering from chronic breathing problems. She was struggling to breathe in many environments like where people were wearing perfume or smoking a cigarette. At that time, I was learning about how peppermint was good for respiratory problems. So after she tried it, she said, “I can’t tell you the last time I could take in a deep inhale that way.” And I just started weeping because I helped relieve my mama of a chronic condition. That really started the journey of sharing it with other people. If this helped me and it helped my mom, I felt an obligation to tell people about it. I could educate them and allow them to make their own decision about what to do. I learned how open people were to natural options because medication wasn’t an option, unaffordable, or not preferable.

What made you so passionate that you wanted to do this full time?

It was the fact that I got an answer to a problem that I had been dealing with for so many years and had been seeking help for. Doctors had told me very compassionately that they didn’t know how to help me. I knew so many other people this was happening to. And essential oils kept helping people with different issues. I thought, “There is something here. As a career health educator I am suitable to share this with people.” At the end of my career in public health, I focused on health equity and chronic disease prevention. So this aligned with what I had been doing, but this way I would get to meet with people one-on-one.

Could you recommend any essential oils for this time of COVID? What would help with people experiencing anxiety? What can help people build their immune systems?

Immune support is always important and now is no different. As people are looking for ways to stay healthy, it is critical not to overlook the role of regular exercise, nutrition, stress management and proper sleep.

For anxious feelings or even just chatter brain, a tree oil like frankincense or cedarwood can be helpful. For some, frankincense mixed with a citrus oil, like lemon, are good for grounding, focusing, and making someone feel calm. It can be applied on the spine, back of the neck, bottom of the feet, or even diffused it in the air. Essential oils are composed of small molecules that can penetrate the skin and cell membrane and promote the cellular healing process. Some oils can be even be taken internally, since dōTERRA is a pure therapeutic grade essential oil.

For immune system support, oregano, cinnamon, and citrus oils are all helpful. They are spicy so most people don’t want to just drink them straight up. You can combine them in an empty pill capsule and take one each morning. Or add them to your tea or smoothie, whatever works with your morning routine. Oils are 50-70 times more potent than just using the dried herbs, so they do not require as great a quantity to be effective. DoTERRA also offers probiotics and supplements that I would recommend in unison with the oils. I am really big on making sure the gut is protected because it is connected to the brain.

If someone has a particular health issue and they are looking for immune support, specific oils and protocols can be supportive. For example, if they have cardiovascular health issues, lavender, copaiba, lemon, and frankincense are commonly used. The options are plentiful and can be adjusted according to preference.

What other modalities do you recommend in combination with essential oils?

Yoga, meditation, Healing Touch, and Reiki all go well with oils. Oils are a tool and can be used to support really any other modality or western medicine. These oils are 100% pure and cannot harm you in a way that would make you go to the ER. Some people who are more fragile or sensitive need to use carrier oils and smaller amounts- especially children, pets, or elderly. They might not use it internally but could still diffuse it or use it topically. And if something doesn’t work well with you, we will try something new. Because our bodies are all different, we can have different experiences. That is why we try a little and talk about the experience of it in order to adjust. Many people start to create their own blends based on what they like.

You mentioned that oils can help pets. What are some examples?

Pets can use essential oils, but like humans they can have different experiences. Lavender, frankincense, or cedarwood are common for anxious pets. Diffusing a few drops or applying oil diluted with olive or coconut oil onto their paw or their spine are also options. Some even put it in their food when they are constipated or having trouble with their GI tract. There are many veterinarians that support using essential oils, so information about your specific pet is recommended.

Thank you for sharing some of your story and knowledge about essential oils with us today, Tonya. What would be the best way for people to contact you who are interested in learning more? or Facebook


Or if you prefer to talk on the phone: 704-507-9170

About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and curiosities with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.

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