Cary Caster lives deliberately. And it seems to be working out for her.
The botanist and essential oil expert fell in love with nature as a child in Florida and followed that passion as a career. After college, she managed the Rare Plant House at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, then went on to graduate school and further study anatomy, physiology and aromatherapy.
After starting a private massage practice, she began applying everything she had learned about essential oils to treating her clients and raising her children and soon realized that she could bring that health and balance to a greater audience, as well. Ultimately, based on all that expertise, she founded 21 Drops Essential Oil Therapy, a line of roll-on essential oils guided by purity, transparency and true healing.
Here, Caster explains why taking responsibility for our choices improves our lives:
Live The Process: How did your love affair with plants and nature manifest itself when you were growing up and then as you got older?
Cary Caster: I grew up in Miami Beach, Florida, and I remember happily climbing the citrus trees in my family’s front yard to gather the oranges and grapefruits that grew on the high branches. I used to cherish the times I would lose myself in their intoxicating scents when these same trees were in full bloom. Growing up in this tropical setting, I was intrigued by all the exotic fruits, vegetables and plants in the landscape, as well as special plants I discovered at the local botanical gardens. It was not surprising then that I chose to study horticulture and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Botany. This deep connection to nature has always inspired me to live a more natural existence. It is now an exciting time for me, knowing that the demand for pure, organic foods and products is becoming more mainstream. This is how I’ve lived my whole life, especially while raising my three children. It’s extremely important for people to be aware of and act on practices that help protect and heal our planet. I am a contributing member to numerous botanical and wild plant conservation organizations, as well as the much-needed Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy.
LTP: When did you first become aware of the power of essential oils in healing?
CC: Being a botanist, I was aware of the fact that—out of the roughly 250,000 plants in the plant kingdom—there are only about 200 plants that create essential oils that we utilize in aromatherapy. These oils are found in particular plant parts that are then extracted and used for their healing properties. While I was used to utilizing herbal preparations for treating various conditions, when I first found essential oils over 30 years ago, I was immediately hooked! I was aware of all the time, knowledge, effort and energy it takes to grow, harvest, distill and bottle the oils from these plant parts, which are grown in various climates all over the globe. Being a scientist at heart, I then began a lifelong education of aromatherapy at a clinical level. I have enjoyed more than 2,000 hours of aromatherapy courses and conferences, offered by internationally qualified researchers and teachers over the last 30 years. At these conferences, I am totally enthralled with the power of what essential oils can do to help heal the mind, body and spirit on a quantifiable level.
“This deep connection to nature has always inspired me to live a more natural existence.”
LTP: How did you come to launch 21 Drops?
CC: 21 Drops grew out of my desire to share and educate the public about how powerfully healing pure essential oils can be. I began my formal education in aromatherapy in Europe in 2002, where essential oils are developed and used as part of their alternative wellness programs. When I returned to the U.S., I wanted to simplify and share this information. After raising my children and helping family, friends and clients benefit from using essential oils versus over-the-counter medications, 21 Drops became the answer to sharing this healing modality with the rest of the public for day-to-day wellness.
The more educated I became, the more I realized I had made mistakes in my earlier usage of essential oils. It’s a lot more complicated a science—with safety concerns—than most users are aware. I wanted to provide simplified solutions, thereby taking the guesswork out of using essential oils. Thus, 21 Drops’ blends are all created with a synergy of three to five essential oils to target 21 different conditions. They are safely diluted in an organic jojoba carrier oil, all in an easy to apply roll-on applicator.
However, the main difference that separates 21 drops from most essential oil brands is the transparency we provide in the quality of our essential oils. Unfortunately, the majority of oils on the market are actually synthetic fragrances that passes as essential, as well as adulterated oils, which will not offer the quality of outcome. 21 Drops sends all our essential oils that we source out for third-party GC/MS testing to validate their purity. We then provide the listing of the active phytochemicals in each particular batch on our company website. My many hours of study have allowed me the knowledge to use the safest, most effective essential oils for the numerous conditions we address.
Our newest product is a sampling gift set of six of our most popular blends for the holidays. On a personal level, I use my blends religiously and attribute my strong health to their ability to provide the proper balance of phytochemicals my body needs, supporting my mind, body and spirit.
LTP: Aside from using your own line, do you have wellness rituals or obsessions that keep you feeling balanced and relaxed?
CC: I grew up playing tennis as a child, and I still find great pleasure in playing. I play early almost every morning before I head to the office. I find the focus and concentration, as well as the physical workout, helps me clear my mind for the day. I also have a meditation practice, and I attend yoga classes on the days I get rained out on the tennis court. However, no matter how centered I try to be to face my days, there are always things that go wrong that are beyond my control. And, while I take as much in stride as possible and deal with problems as they arise, it definitely can take its toll on my inner peace. That is why, most importantly, I nourish my body and soul with a regular massage from a very gifted practitioner, who helps bring me back to balance on many levels.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
CC: Every morning, before I even get a chance to get out of bed, my pound puppies smother me with their slippery, wet kisses and their unconditional love. Their happy-go-lucky spirit always puts a smile on my face as I greet each day. Being with my children, family and friends also lifts my spirits, but also it is quite fulfilling to learn about peoples’ stories and successes using 21 Drops!
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
CC: When I did some self-reflective work over 20 years ago when my mother had passed, the phrase “Live Deliberately” became my mantra. I was forced to delve into my earlier “programing” and eventually concluded that, at every minute of every day, I have choice about how I want to live each moment. True to my innate nature, I choose to live as pure an existence as I can, while still keeping a balance in today’s world. While I’m not fanatical about every little deviation of what a “pure” life looks like, I honor our mother earth and have a sincere compassion for all living things. If we all lived by these principles, the world would be a much happier place!