By now you probably have heard people talking about essential oils and may be wondering what they are, as well as how to use them. When my family first started using essential oils my expectations were fairly minimal, I figured our house would smell great from diffusing something natural, instead of using synthetic fragrances and that we might find a use here or there for the oils. I had no idea that they would become my next major “natural” obsession (my first “natural” obsession was removing as much plastic as possible from our lives). By digging in and doing some research I discovered how versatile high quality essential oils are and have slowly been replacing items in our medicine, beauty and cleaning cabinets with essential oils.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are what protects and keeps a plant healthy and vital. By extracting the essence of the plant through distillation or cold pressing, one is left with a highly concentrated liquid that has been used for centuries as a way to promote emotional and physical well being. For example one drop of 100% pure peppermint oil is equivalent to approximately 24 cups of peppermint tea.
How to Use Essential Oils
The real beauty with using essential oils is that one oil can have a multitude of uses. For example, Lavender, can be applied to bug bites and minor burns to help relieve pain and itching and can also double as a natural relaxation tool to help children ease into a calming state for a good nights sleep.
There are three ways to administer essential oils: aromatically, topically or internally. While one type of oil may not be recommended for internal use, the same oil may be very effective when used as a topical or aromatic.
- Aromatic: you can add several drops to an essential oil diffuser or simply apply a few drops of oil to your palms and inhale.
- Topical: many oils can be applied “neat” (undiluted), by placing a few drops of oil directly to the skin. Similar to how reflexology uses the feet to access different parts of the body, the bottoms of feet are often a good place to apply essential oils. With all oils, take caution to avoid using on or around the eyes, ears and genital area. If the oil should not be applied “neat” it will need to be diluted with carrier oil, which helps dilute the strength of the oil. Carrier oils include coconut and jojoba oil.
- Internal: The third method is to ingest the oil, which can be accomplished by adding a drop or two to a glass of water. Some oils can also be placed into vegetable capsules and swallowed.
It is important to check the guidelines for the individual oil, and to only use a high quality, unadulterated brand of oil.
Choosing a Safe Essential Oil
Since essential oils are naturally derived from a plant they do not require FDA approval. When it comes to choosing safe and effective oils, realize that not all essential oils are created equal. A little research into what brand of essential oil to choose can make a big difference. Even if the essential oil only lists one plant ingredient (usually listed as the botanical name) and no fillers it may have been processed using GMO crops or have been dosed with pesticides. Furthermore, many of the essential oil brands you can find at health food stores are not 3rd party tested and can contain fillers and additives, exactly the type of chemicals most of us are trying to avoid.
We use and recommend Young Living essential oils. Young Living not only uses 3rd party testing, they maintain their own farms (or carefully regulated coop farms) and have their own in-house testing as well. Nothing is added to Young Living oils – they are 100% natural – and avoid the use of pesticides and GMOs. With each harvest, only the highest quality plants are hand-selected for oil production.Learn more about Young Living Essential Oils.
Here are some links for DYOR (do your own research) on oils:
- Oil Testimonials: Over 8000 testimonials with suggestions on how to use essential oils. http://www.oil-testimonials.com/
- Pub Med: A site which catalogs publications from scientific journals, including research on essential oils
- Skin Deep: The Environmental Working Group’s searchable database of toxic ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products. Skin Deep currently does not test different brands of essential oils, but it is a valuable resource for determining the toxic levels in certain products that use essential oils.
With hundreds of different essential oils to learn about, a reference book can be a great resource. There are many excellent books to choose from with most listing how to use oils by oil type, or by the condition that they can help alleviate. There are also books that focus on specific topics such as using essential oils safely during pregnancy or with babies and kids and even pets. Here are some of our favorite resources books.
DIY Essential Oil Recipe
With cold and flu season approaching we decided to include an easy make your own hand sanitizer recipe.
Essential Oil Hand Sanitizer, simply mix and add the below ingredients into a small squeeze bottle.
- Small squeeze bottle
- 6 tbsp. Organic Aloe Vera Gel
- 5 tbsp. Distilled or Regular Water
- 10 drops of Young Living Thieves EO OR 3 drops of each of the following Clove EO, Lemon EO and Eucalyptus EO
Guest post written by Kristie Turck of TheGlassBabyBottle.com, a buying guide to safe baby and kids products.