Many cultures have used essential oils for their healing properties for thousands of years. In addition to their roles as natural medicines, they are also used for relaxation, beauty care and home cleaning.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds. So that basically means essential oils evaporate easily at room temperature and the vapours are fragrant, even from a distance. This property allows essential oils to be used for aromatherapy.
They are found in seeds, bark, stems, flowers and other parts of plants. It takes a huge quantity of plant material to create a small volume of oil. Essential oils are obtained through distillation or cold pressing. They typically have the characteristic fragrance of the plant or source from which they were extracted.
Ways To Use Essential Oils
Below are the most common ways to use essential oils. As I have already mentioned aromatherapy, I will start with that first.
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using essential oils to balance, harmonize and promote the health of the body, mind and spirit. It is a great, non-invasive way to treat a variety of conditions and can be used safely along with other treatments.
The sense of smell can trigger powerful mental and emotional responses. Smell receptors have a direct link to the limbic system and absorb essential oils quickly. The limbic system is the part of the brain that supports a variety of functions including smell, emotions, behaviour and memory. For this reason, essential oils have a big impact when used in aromatherapy.
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Some oils have invigorating effects while others do quite the opposite. Diffusion is one of the simplest methods for using essential oils aromatically but it is not vital to use a diffuser to reap the benefits of essential oils. Here are some other ways you can use essential oils aromatically:
- Combine a few drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle and simply spritz this mixture over furniture, carpet or linens.
- Apply the oil to a cotton ball and place in the air vents of your vehicle.
- Add oils to homemade cleaning products.
- Add a few drops of essential oil to the inside of the toilet paper cardboard tube to freshen the bathroom.
Tiny, fat-soluble molecules make up essential oils and they penetrate the skin easily. Even though this is the case, there are ways to enhance absorption.
1. Light massage increases the blood flow to the area where the essential oil was applied and this improves distribution in the body.
2. Use of a carrier oil e.g. Almond, Coconut, and Olive oil increases absorption by moisturizing the skin and slowing down evaporation of the essential oil.
Use a 10% dilution (10 drops of essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil) to decrease skin sensitivity. This is recommended for young or sensitive skin.
You should start with small doses throughout the day instead of one large dose as essential oils are very potent. Repeat every 4-6 hours as needed. If you are unsure, please check with a medical health professional before you use essential oils.
Where To Apply Essential Oils Topically?
- Forehead and temples
- Arms, legs and bottom of the feet
Avoid applying essential oils to areas including:
- Around or in the eyes
- Inner ears
- Broken or otherwise injured skin
Other Topical Applications
- Add a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath.
- Make a hot or cold compress by soaking a clean cloth into water, adding a few drops of essential oil and applying to the area.
- Add a few drops of essential oil to lotion before applying to the skin.
Most oils are safe for internal use but remember that essential oils are potent so you must use caution when ingesting any of these oils. Usually 1-3 drops diluted with plenty of water will do the trick. Some oils such as clove and oregano should not be ingested for more than 1 week.
When ingested, essential oils enter the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract and are then transported around the body. Just like our food or anything else we consume, the essential oils are metabolized by the liver and other organs and then excreted.
Top 10 Essential Oils & Their Health Benefits
There are more than 90 essential oils however each has its own therapeutic benefits. Oil blends can also be created to enhance each oil’s properties. Here is a list of the most popular essential oils:
- Clove: Anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and offers antioxidant protection.
- Eucalyptus: Improves respiratory issues such as bronchitis and allergies. It also invigorates and purifies the body.
- Ginger: Reduces inflammation, supports joints, improves digestion and relieves nausea.
- Grapefruit: Supports metabolism and cellulite reduction.
- Lavender: Aids relaxation, improves mood and heals burns and cuts.
- Lemon: Great for use in homemade cleaning products, improves lymph drainage and cleanses the body.
- Peppermint: Supports digestion, improves focus, boosts energy, reduces fever, relieves headache and muscle pain.
- Tea tree oil: Natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, reduces bad odours and can stimulate the immune system.
- Rose: Reduces skin inflammation.
- Rosemary: Can naturally thicken hair and improves brain function and memory.
What is your favourite Essential Oil?