Like many people working towards a healthier lifestyle, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about essential oils. What are they? How do you use them? And what can they do for you? In this guide, we will answer all of your questions and help you learn how to use essential oils safely and effectively. We’ll also discuss the different types of essential oils available and their therapeutic properties.
What Exactly Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the organic compounds found in plants. They are extracted from flowers, leaves, bark, roots, and other plant parts. These volatile oils contain the plant’s essence or “soul” and give each oil its unique aroma and therapeutic properties. Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Essential oils are made up of tiny molecules that can be easily absorbed by the body. When properly diluted, these oils are safe to use externally on people of all ages. Some oils also have culinary uses such as flavoring food or beverages.
What Are the Three Main Ways Essential Oils Can Be Used?
Essential oils can be used aromatically, topically, and internally. These three methods are the most common and safe ways to use essential oils, and there are plenty of ways to combine them for maximum therapeutic benefits.
When used aromatically, essential oils are inhaled directly or through the use of a diffuser. This allows the molecules to enter the bloodstream and affect the emotional and mental states of well-being. Aromatic use is especially beneficial when dealing with emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
When used topically, essential oils are applied directly to the skin. Before using any essential oil on your skin, it should be properly diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil. This helps to avoid skin irritation and maximize the effectiveness of the oil. Some therapeutic properties of essential oils can be enhanced when they are used in combination with a massage.
When used internally, essential oils can be taken in the form of dietary supplements or added to food and beverages for culinary uses. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and may help support overall body functions such as digestion, circulation, and detoxification. Internal use should always be done under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.
How Essential Oils Help Us Heal
There are dozens of therapeutic essential oils available, each with its own unique properties. Some of the most common uses for essential oils include:
Stress management and relaxation
Stress collects in our bodies due to all sorts of internal and external factors. Essential oils can help to reduce stress levels, promote relaxation, and create a sense of calm. Lavender, bergamot, cedarwood, and lemon balm are all excellent choices for this purpose.
Detoxifying the body
Toxins can build up in our bodies due to a variety of factors. Essential oils are said to help the body eliminate toxins and support proper detoxification processes. Lemon, grapefruit, rosemary, and juniper berry are helpful essential oils that can help to detox the body by stimulating the lymphatic system.
Essential oils are often used to help people get better quality sleep. Oils such as chamomile, lavender, cedarwood, and sweet marjoram have calming properties that can induce restful sleep.
Promoting healthy digestion
Certain oils can be used to help promote healthy digestion and alleviate digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and indigestion. Peppermint, fennel, ginger, and lemon are all helpful essential oils for this purpose.
Immune system support
Many essential oils may help to strengthen the immune system by improving circulation and fighting off infections. Tea tree, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and lemon oils all help to strengthen the immune system by increasing white blood cell count and decreasing inflammation.
Facilitating clear breathing
If you’re struggling with congestion, oil essences can be used to help clear the lungs and sinuses, improve breathing, and reduce congestion. Eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, and lemon are all beneficial and help to open up the nasal passages as well as clear out the lungs.
Soothing sore muscles and joints
Essential oils can help to soothe sore muscles and joints by reducing inflammation, increasing circulation, and promoting relaxation. Wintergreen, peppermint, marjoram, ginger, and cypress are all known to help reduce pain and relax tense fascia and muscles with their healing properties.
Supportive aid for skin issues
Some essential oils are often used to support healthy skin, reduce inflammation, and help heal minor cuts and scrapes. Some of the best essential oils for this purpose include tea tree, rosemary, lavender, geranium, and chamomile.
If you have acne issues, try a combination of tea tree, lavender, and cypress essential oils. These natural ingredients are powerful enough to clear up blemishes yet gentle enough not to irritate sensitive skin.
Tea tree, lavender, and geranium essential oils are effective in promoting wound healing. These natural ingredients contain antiseptic properties that help to clean the wound and reduce inflammation. Additionally, these oils may promote faster recovery time for minor wounds and reduce the appearance of scars.
Essential oils can also be used to create a relaxing atmosphere and enhance your mood. Citrus, lavender, and bergamot all have calming, uplifting effects that can help you feel more relaxed and cheerful.
Boosting energy levels
Some essential oils can also be used to boost energy levels, reduce fatigue, and increase alertness. Peppermint, lemon, grapefruit, and eucalyptus are all known for their uplifting properties that can give you the energy boost you need when feeling sluggish.
How to Use Essential Oils: 8 Great Ideas
Now that you know about some of the great benefits that essential oils provide, here are some clever ways for you to integrate them into your life:
1. Use them in the bath
Using essential oils in the bath allows you to enjoy both the aromatic and topical benefits of the oils. Your steamy and warm bathwater will help to open your pores, allowing the aromatic molecules to enter your body more quickly and easily. You can also add other products such as Epsom salts and bath bombs to further enhance your experience.
2. Use essential oils in diffusers
Diffusers are a great way to enjoy the aromatic benefits of essential oils without having to resort to candles or incense. They can also help add moisture back into the air, which is especially helpful during dry winter months. To create an invigorating blend, combine citruses such as lemon and grapefruit with minty oils like peppermint or eucalyptus. Or you can get a set of aromatherapy oils and use different ones each day to get the full therapeutic benefits.
3. Create therapeutic massage oils
Using essential oils in massage can help to soothe sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation. Some carrier oils that work great for this purpose include jojoba, coconut, and sweet almond oil. Start by combining some of your preferred essential oils with the carrier oil and then massage it into your skin for a truly therapeutic experience.
4. Make natural household cleaners
Essential oils are a great way to make natural household cleaners that can help to keep your home clean and fresh without the use of harsh chemicals known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds). To make a basic all-purpose cleaner, you will need an empty spray bottle, white vinegar, water, and some essential oils such as lavender or tea tree. Once you’ve combined all of the ingredients, you will have a natural cleaner that is safe to use on all surfaces in your home.
5. Create air fresheners and odor neutralizers
If you want to have a pleasant scent in your home that is light and refreshing, try making your own air fresheners. Essential oils are a great natural way to eliminate bad odors and create a more inviting atmosphere in your home. To make an air freshener, start by combining some essential oils of your choice (citrus scents work well) with water in a spray bottle. Then spritz the mixture around your home to enjoy a refreshing scent with no harsh chemicals.
You can also make potpourri with your essential oils by combining dried herbs, flowers, spices, and essential oils to create a pleasant-smelling mixture in small spaces such as bathrooms.
6. Add them to body lotions and creams
You can spruce up your existing body lotions and creams by adding some essential oils of your choice. The combination of the carrier oil with the essential oil will help to nourish, hydrate, and protect your skin from environmental damage. Start by combining a few drops of your chosen essential oil with a quarter cup of body lotion or cream, then apply it to your skin for a nourishing treat.
You can add more essential oil if the scent isn’t overwhelming and your skin doesn’t have any adverse responses. Just remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away afterward!
7. Use a few drops in your shampoo or conditioner
Similar to adding essential oils to body lotions, you can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to your shampoo or conditioner for an added boost of aromatherapy. Simply add a few drops in the palm of your hand before lathering it up, then massage it into your scalp and hair.
Some blends work especially well for this. For example, if you have dandruff, tea tree oil will help to reduce dry flaky skin. Or if you want a more luxurious experience, try combining lavender with sandalwood for an added touch of elegance.
8. Add them to foods or drinks
Essential oils are a great way to add flavor and health benefits to your food or drink. Start by adding a drop of your chosen oil to some warm water, then pour it into coffee or tea for an added aromatic experience. You can also add oils to smoothies, dressings, sauces, and baked goods for a flavor-filled healthy boost.
Just make sure that the oils you use are food-grade and safe to ingest, as not all of them are.
Things to Avoid When Using Essential Oils
Although essential oils are generally safe when used properly, there are some safety considerations that you should keep in mind.
Always dilute your essential oils
Unless your oil came pre-diluted, it’s important that you always dilute your essential oils before using them. This is because undiluted essential oils can irritate and damage the skin, so it’s important to always use carrier oils or lotions when applying them to your skin.
You can experiment with different concentrations, building up in strength over time. Just make sure to check the consumption or usage limits for each specific plant oil you’re using.
Avoid getting essential oils in your eyes
Our eyes are made out of delicate tissue, so it’s important to avoid getting essential oils in them. If you do get any oil in your eyes, immediately rinse with cold water and seek medical attention if needed. Some other areas of the body you want to avoid getting essential oils on include mucous membranes, open wounds, and broken skin.
Store your oils properly
When not in use, make sure to store your essential oils in a cool and dark place. This will help to prolong their shelf life, so you can get the most out of them. Additionally, keep your bottles tightly sealed when not in use and out of reach of children and pets. Proper storage can ensure years of safe and effective use.
Be careful with essential oils on young children, infants, or pets
While some essential oils are considered safe for use around young children, infants, and pets, it’s always important to be cautious. Do your research and make sure you understand the usage instructions before exposing any of these sensitive groups to essential oil fumes or topical applications. If in doubt, always consult your doctor or veterinarian before using essential oils with vulnerable populations.
Make sure the manufacturer you are buying from is reputable
There’s a huge range in quality when it comes to essential oil manufacturers, so make sure to do your research and buy from a reputable source. The best companies will provide detailed information about their ingredients, distillation methods, and safety protocols. If you’re unsure of the quality of an essential oil brand, try looking at customer reviews or contact them directly with any questions you have.
Do your research on the specific oils you use
Although essential oils can be a great way to improve your health and well-being, they are still powerful substances and should not be taken lightly. If you’re unsure about any aspect of using or storing your essential oils, it’s best to consult with an aromatherapist or other qualified professional for advice. You can also find plenty of information online in forums, blogs, videos, and other resources.
6 Great Essential Oils to Use at Home
Now that you know how to safely use essential oils, let’s look at some of the most popular ones.
- Lavender: Lavender oil is one of the most versatile and widely used essential oils. It has a calming, soothing scent that can help relieve stress and tension.
- Peppermint: Peppermint oil is great for helping to clear your mind and promoting alertness. It has a cool, refreshing aroma that can help you focus and energize.
- Tea Tree: Tea tree oil is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s commonly used to help treat acne breakouts or minor skin irritations.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil is often used to treat respiratory issues, as it helps open up congested airways. It has a strong, invigorating scent that can help clear your mind and energize you.
- Rosemary: Rosemary oil is great for stimulating circulation and improving digestion. It has a distinctive, herbal scent that can help you feel more alert and energized.
- Lemon: Lemon oil is known for its bright, uplifting smell and is great for boosting energy levels and improving your mood. It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for skin care.
These oils are great to start with, are generally considered safe, are widely available, and are affordable. So give them a try and see which ones work best for you and your therapeutic needs!
The Bottom Line
Essential oils are flexible tools that can be used in a variety of ways from aromatherapy to topical applications. However, it’s important to use them safely and responsibly. Make sure to do your research on the specific oils you plan on using, store them properly, be cautious when using them around young children or pets, and only buy from reputable sources. Once armed with this knowledge, you can start using essential oils at home and experience the many benefits for yourself!