The smell of roses. The scent of cinnamon. The aroma of clove. The oil is considered “essential” as it is made up of the essence of the plant from which it was extracted. The natural, volatile fragrant compounds in plants create these smells.
Outside of just smelling good, essential oils have countless benefits. They’ve been used for thousands of years because when used correctly, they are a safe, natural way to soothe, prevent, or heal.
We’re exploring some of the more common ways to get and apply essential oil in your everyday life, from beauty regimes to around-the-house convenience, or even medicinal. There’s no question essential oils are therapeutic, but could we actually be overlooking and underestimating one of nature’s best health weapons?
The benefits of essential oils are as plentiful as there are oils. Each one is unique and offers distinct aids to go along with their distinct smells.
Take eucalyptus oil, from example. This oil has a smell that might remind you of cold and flu season, as it’s the active ingredient in most commercial and homemade vapor rub, but it’s also perfect when diffused. Eucalyptus helps to cleanse the body of toxins and helps to open up blocked sinuses when you’re sick, relieving nasal congestion, sore throat, and other symptoms.
Because of its antiseptic qualities, eucalyptus is also great for helping to heal wounds and works as a salve for insect bites and stings.
And because it’s a stimulant, it can also help in the mental department by relieving stress and other mental disorders, and can help revitalize the mind, especially when recovering from illness.
That’s just some of the many benefit of eucalyptus, but it a perfect oil to keep around the hound for everyday use.
Another really good staple to keep on-hand is lavender oil. It’s a popular oil for making fragrances, but works especially well when mixed with other essential oils to make powerful blend.
Lavender is often an ingredient found in sleep aid teas, as lavender helps induce sleep and relaxation even when just inhaled. It’s often prescribed as a treatment for insomnia.
As some oils may help with the actual bug bite, lavender helps prevent you from even getting bitten in the first place. But even if you unlucky and find a few bumps after hanging outside, lavender can still be applied, as it contains anti-inflammatory properties that will help with irritation. This also makes it a good ingredient when fighting acne.
Also, “Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders because… it helps in restoring hormonal balance and reducing cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces associated cramps with these and other disorders.” – Organicfacts.net
The perfect oil to keep in your medicine cabinet, as well as under the sink, is tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is famous for its antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, and is often used topically to address skin issues that may arise as a result. For instance, cold sores, acne, chickpox, bug bites, head lice, psoriasis, and the fungus that causes jock itch, athlete’s foot and nail infections, can all be safely fought with tea tree oil.
Because of its versatility, you can replace most store bought items with tea tree oil, such as deodorant and mouthwash. And it’s great to use around the house since it kills mold and can be used as a disinfectant.
How to use them
There are several ways you can get the best use out of essential oils.
1 – Inhale
Get a diffuser that uses heat or water, which will emit the fragrance throughout the area.
Add a few drops of the oil to a spray bottle with water, shake, and spray the mist into the air.
Add the oil to a pot of boiling water to steam it. This is particularly useful when you’re sick and need direct inhalation.
Lastly, you can put a few drops of the oil on cotton balls and allow it to dry while evaporating into the air.
2 – Topical use
Never put essential oil directly onto your skin. Essential oil is highly concentrated, so you want to mix/dilute it with what’s called a “carrier oil,” which is “a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.”
Good carrier oils include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil, and other (usually commonly eatable) oils.
To prepare the solution: “a good rule of thumb when seeking to make a 2% dilution is to add 12 drops of essential oil to each fl. ounce (30 ml) of cold pressed carrier oil, lotion, vegetable butter or other natural lipid/moisturizer.”
Essential oils are also used in baths, in homemade mouthwash or sore throat, in compresses or during massages to relieve pain from injury and relax muscles.
How to get them
Essential oils are made from the aromatic compound is found in various parts of the plant: “the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants,” as doTerra explains.
There’s a few ways to extract the oil from the plant. Distillation it is common process, which can use one of three methods: water distillation, water and steam distillation, or straight steam.
“In all of the methods, steam is used to rupture the oil membranes in the plant and release the essential oil. The steam carries the essential oil to a condenser and then as it re-liquefies the lighter essential oil floats on top.
The water and oil are then separated out, and the water is referred to as the hydrosol or hydrolat, or flower or floral water. And the oil of course is the essential oil!”
In order to extract therapeutic grade oil, low temperature and low pressure must be used.
Also, according to Experience Essential Oils, it’s important that you consider the quality to of your oil per the way you expect to use it. Extracting essential oils is process that requires lots of raw material in order to produce minimal supply. So, many companies cut costs by watering down products, short cutting the distillation process, or sell weak oils where the plants have been distilled multiple times.
Research the company before you buy to insure the quality of your product. Experience Essential Oils has a checklist of the things they look for in an oil supplier that will help you to make the right choice for high-grade products.
This is just a peek and some of the incredible ways you can use essential oils, but there are hundreds of other oils, which all offer unique benefits, from benign concerns like relaxation, to more pressing issues like female hormonal imbalance.
You can find essential oils in most health food stores, online, or at local stores that specialize in the product.
Remember that essential oils are powerful and little goes a very long way. If you’re new to using them, there are plenty of resources to help you get started and make sure you’re using them safely and effectively.