By KATIE MOEN
For Union County HAWK
WESTFIELD — Two local businesses came together on Sunday to help Westfield’s residents hold onto those New Year’s resolutions by providing a workshop geared towards full-body health.
The event, sponsored by Out Run Your Fork and the Curious Heart Apothecary and Spiritual Center, invited participants to learn about the benefits of responsibly-sourced essential oils under the instruction of certified Reiki therapist Mary Kate Santulli and her business partner, Lori Talbot.
“I have been working with Mary Kate’s son for a while now, and we realized that we had a great opportunity here to help each other out,” said Melissa Bianchino, physical trainer and co-owner of Out Run Your Fork. “The idea was to bring our two companies together to get our clients thinking about different ways to approach well-being.”
Ms. Santulli, who recently opened The Curious Heart on Central Avenue, said she hoped the workshop would help people add a bit of whole-body awareness to their physical workout routines.
The right blend of essential oils, Ms. Santulli said, can help to mitigate the challenges of everyday life by providing holistic solutions for pain, sleeplessness, anxiety and stress, just to name a few.
As is the case with so many things, Ms. Santulli said, it is always a good idea to start small.
“When we’re blending, it’s important to decide whether we’re making something for an emotional or therapeutic concern. You don’t need as many essential oils when you’re blending for stress and anxiety as you would for something like lower back pains or headaches. It’s not always easy to find the right balance, but a little trial and error is absolutely part of the process,” Ms. Santulli said, noting that unchecked emotional issues can often result in physical manifestations.
In recent years, essential oils have gone from specialty items to mainstream staples. Although the market’s new accessibility does make it easier for people to find the items they want, Ms. Santulli cautioned against the use of “unregulated imposters.”
“You can pretty much buy essential oils anywhere at this point,” she said. “They’re very popular with multi-level marketing groups; there are ads for them all over the internet…I think you can even walk into Target and find a few. It’s very important to understand where these products are coming from and to know what percentage of each oil they contain. There are a lot of fakes out there, so you want to do a little research before you buy anything.”
One of the most useful tools for any budding enthusiast, Ms. Santulli said, is a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) report.
A GC/MS analysis is a method that allows third-party investigators to identify different substances within a test sample. Basically, Ms. Santulli said, these reports help to accurately define a product’s composition by identifying each essential oil that was used to create it and listing them out by percentage.
“It’s an accountability thing,” Ms. Santulli said, noting that most GC/MS reports also will include a breakdown of how and when each oil was harvested. This helps consumers identify responsibly-sourced products versus those whose methodologies may have had an adverse effect on the environment.
“Basically, if you’re looking into a new product and you can’t find one of these reports, you might want to look elsewhere,” Ms. Santulli said.
In addition to some good educational background, participants in Sunday’s event were given the chance to mix their own blends for use in creams, butters, body rollers or inhalers.
“I think it’s so important for local businesses to find ways to work together and support each other,” Mrs. Bianchino said. “This was kind of an experimental event, but it went really well, and I hope we can start to see more of these collaborative workshops going forward.”
For more information about Out Run Your Fork Personal Training and Nutrition, visit www.outrunyourfork.com.
For more information about The Curious Heart Apothecary and Spiritual Center, call (856) 506-3593.