When it comes to essential oils, many varieties claim to treat a slew of different conditions in the body. I’m not here to affirm or deny any evidence around the effectiveness of essential oils but instead plan to shed light on how some of us use them daily. For any medical conditions, you should always consult your physician.
What are essential oils
Essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy. They are either inhaled, diluted, and rubbed into the skin, or used in bathwater. They are never to be taken directly via the mouth and swallowed. Essential oils are made by extracting the oils from certain plants, flowers, bark, and other parts. For example, any citrus-based oil is commonly derived from the rind where floral based oils such as rose come directly from the fragrant part of the flower.
Each oil has a distinct scent and is utilized for a different purpose, such as sleep, headaches, calm, and other uses. These oils are potent, and you must be careful when using them. The right approach is the less is more technique. Start with a few drops before adding more. Too many drops and the smell may be overpowering.
How to use essential oils
There are two conventional methods for using essential oils, inhalation or topical use.
Inhalation is most often than not done with a diffuser (a device used to spread the scent over an area). There are a variety of diffusers on the market as well from electronic ones that disperse the oil in a vapor form throughout the room to simple reed diffusers. I have also preferred a vapor based diffuser. In my opinion, it does the best job of spreading the scent evenly throughout the room for a good 2-3 hours in most models.
When you are using essential oils topically on the skin or in a bath or shower, it is crucial always to dilute the oil. As stated earlier, do not use too much. The oils get absorbed through the skin, and if you use too much, it may cause irritation or reaction. Diluting the oils will also allow them to work better. Adding the essential oil to a carrier substance such as coconut or vegetable oil will allow it better be absorbed into the skin. When using topically always test on a small area first to ensure there is no skin irritation or reaction.
10 Popular Essential Oils and Their Uses
Peppermint oil comes from the leaves of the herb (not the candy cane) and is used to help clear your mind from overactive thinking and worry. It has also been known to boost energy, help with muscle inflammation or sore throat, and calm an upset stomach. There is nothing better to help a room smell pleasant than Peppermint!
Eucalyptus comes from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree and has been shown to inspire feelings of focus and clarity. Eucalyptus has a menthol-like smell that does a tremendous job with helping to breathe and is useful when you are congested or suffering from a cold. Eucalyptus also inspires movement when you feel tense. It’s also a favorite food of panda bears and koalas. I threw that in to see if you were paying attention.
I didn’t even know the bergamot fruit existed until I started using this oil. Bergamot is thought to have originated from a cross between a lemon and bitter orange. Bergamot has a sweet citrusy smell that is considered to be one of natures most potent emotional balancers. Bergamot essential oil is uplifting and soothing. It is also used to treat skin conditions such as acne. Be careful when going out in the sun if you have used this oil topically as it can increase photosensitivity and cause your skin to get sunburned.
Lavender oil comes from the lavender bush. Lavender offers a fresh, clean floral scent that provides comfort and relaxation. That’s why lavender is in perfumes, soaps, detergents, and many cleaning products. Lavender helps support general well-being and promotes sleep. A couple of sprays on your pillow at night helps to put your mind at ease to fall asleep. A diffuser in your bedroom has the same effect.
Patchouli is a plant in the same family as mint and deadnettle. The oil is steam-distilled from the plants’ leaves producing and oil that has a deep aroma that has been known to calm nerves and soothe tension. Many people use Patchouli as natural hair and scalp treatment. Patchouli, in my opinion, has an overpowering scent, so go light at first when using this oil.
Frankincense essential oil comes from the sap/resin of frankincense trees native to Africa and the Middle East. Frankincense has an outdoor, almost woodsy herbal smell. Frankincense has a sedative and comforting fragrance and is believed to strengthen and invigorate the respiratory system. It is also used as a surface cleaner to remove bacteria. If it’s good enough for the wise men, it should be good enough for you.
Yes, the same rosemary you use for cooking is also essential oil. Rosemary belongs to the same family of herbs as basil, lavender, and sage and is thought to have soothing pain-relieving properties. Rosemary used in a diffuser helps reduce stress levels and encourages clarity and insight. It is used to improve alertness, eliminate negative moods, and increase the retention of information by enhancing concentration. The scent of rosemary has been shown to stimulate the appetite. Inhaling rosemary relieves throat and nasal congestion by clearing the respiratory tract.
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree found in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, and has been used as medicine by Aborigines for generations. The Aborigines crush the leaves to extract the oil and then inhale it for coughs and colds. Nowadays, you would place a diffuser in your bedroom with Tea Tree oil to help you breathe and control a cough. Tea tree oil has been used to provide clear skin as well as an antibacterial agent for cleaning wounds. Used in body washes and shampoos, it helps to control germs and dandruff. Diffused, it supports clear thinking and motivation.
Lemon oil is derived from the peel of the lemon and is a powerful cleanser and detoxifier. In studies, lemon oil has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety as well as fight fatigue and insomnia. It can also be used topically on such conditions as acne and athletes’ foot. The crisp smell of diffused lemon oil helps increase energy and alertness and provides a fresh fragrance for any home.
Cinnamon oil comes from both the cinnamon trees bark and leaves. A bit of history, cinnamon is thought to be one of the oldest spices and was a sign of wealth dating back to the ancient Egyptians. Diffusing cinnamon essential oil is known to diminish depression and exhaustion as well as help to stimulate the libido, and to strengthen immunity. Topically it is used to alleviate dry skin as well as alleviate pain in joints and muscles. Essential oils come in all different varieties and scents but do your homework before purchasing and using any essential oil.
Always consult with your doctor before using essential oils to ensure there are no conflicts with your current medications. Make sure you store all of your essential oils away from children and don’t take any essential oils internally. I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of essential oils. As for which ones to buy, I use Art Naturals. They are reasonably priced, and it’s a good starter set to decide which aromas you like and work the best. There is also a link on the page to buy a diffuser and handy box to store the oils.
Do you use essential oils, and if so, what’s your favorite? Comment below.