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Oils aren’t just for cooking and keeping your car running. Essential oils are growing in popularity for their potential health benefits. 

Ann Wooledge, registered nurse and certified clinical aromatherapy professional, started her journey with aromatherapy when she wanted to make her own skin cream to treat her facial redness. The recipes she found required essential oils. She purchased a few for the recipe. She said it worked well, and it spurred her interest in the field.

Wooledge was working as a nurse in Omaha and decided to take a class to become knowledgeable and certified to sell the oils as well as combine them into blends.

Similar classes are taught for the general public in classrooms as well as online. Certification takes about 200 hours to complete and includes classes in anatomy and physiology. 

In 2005, Wooledge became clinically certified and now owns a store called Wingsets. She sells the essential oils and blends she creates to target specific problems such as her cold and flu blend or the sleepy time blend. 

Plants, bark, roots, leaves or flowers are placed in a distillation unit, which steams the material and pulls the oil out in a concentrated formula.

Wooledge said the oils can be antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral. They treat illnesses similarly to medicines, she said.

Essential oils can be used to help combat anxiety, depression, colds and flu, as well as assist with sleeping and calming.

“There are amazing benefits for any psychological or mental issue, since when you inhale them they go straight to your brain,” Wooledge said.

The essential oils can be used topically through creams, inhaled through tissue or dilution and internally with caution and guidance of a healthcare professional.

Multi-level marketing companies like doTERRA and Young Living also sell oils and related products. 

Patty Morgan is a University of Nebraska-Lincoln massage therapist who sells doTERRA oils separate from her position with the massage therapy program. Morgan uses her oils when she gives massages and is specialized in aromatherapy.

“All of our massage therapists use essential oils in their massages,” said Jennifer Krueger, UNL Campus Recreation’s injury prevention and care coordinator in an email. 

Many oils can be used daily. However, some should only be used to the extent of the illness they are being used to treat. 

“I use my sleepy time blend on my pillow every night and try to change the blend occasionally,” Wooledge said. 

The oils sold at Winglets can last for months at a time depending on the frequency of use. She cautioned potential users to know what they’re doing before using her products.

“I would suggest people to be aware of their safety, the education and the sourcing of the oils,” Wooledge said.