There has been a lot of hype around essential oils over the last couple of years. Many think they are new and trendy, but in reality, they’ve been around for a long time. We actually “use” essential oils a lot in our everyday lives. They are used to flavor foods and can be found in things like toothpaste, mouthwash, perfumes, skin care products, and much more. Not all oils are created equal though so it’s important to research the purity of the essential oils you’re considering to make sure you’re getting a therapeutic grade oil and not one that’s been extracted using chemicals or other harsh processes.
So what are they exactly? Essential oils are the fragrant, aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots flowers and other parts of the plant. They are distilled from the “life blood” of plants and contain the plant’s own immunity, hormones, and scents. They are typically extracted using a steam distillation process that keeps all properties of the oil intact, but cold pressing can also be used as a means of extraction. Either way, the essential oils are far more powerful than the botanicals they were extracted from.
There are 3 common ways to use essential oils:
- Topically – you can use the oils neat or with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply directly to the skin. The bottoms of your feet are a great place to start.
- Diffuse/Inhale – whether you use a diffuser or inhale the oil (directly from bottle or by placing a drop in your hands, rub together and inhale), this is a powerful way to receive the health benefits of essential oils
- Internally – certain oils are safe to ingest and can make a great addition to cooking as well. It will generally be listed on the bottle if they are safe for internal use.
Each bottle contains a variety of uses, but all of them promote overall health and wellness in some way. For example, lavender is known for its calming properties, but it also supports the skin and can be used in many DIY beauty products, is gentle enough for babies (diluted), and a great one to use in laundry (put a drop or two on wool dryer balls or make a linen spray). Peppermint is uplifting and refreshing, supports the respiratory and digestive systems, promotes concentration, and can also help relieve tension after a long day. These are only a few of examples, but the versatility of oils is truly remarkable.
Here are a few additional tips for using essential oils:
- While some essential oils are gentle and can be applied neat, others should be diluted with a carrier oil, like coconut or grapeseed oil so always keep this on hand. You should always dilute when applying to children.
- Plastic and essential oils don’t mix so if you make DIYs or put a drop of lemon in your water, make sure you’re using a glass container.
- “Roller Blends” are a convenient way to use essential oils. You can purchase 10ml glass bottles with roller tops online and use a mix of essential oils and carrier oil for easy application. (e.g. “sleepy roller” = 10 drops lavender and fill to the top with carrier oil, apply to bottom of feet before bed)
Oils can seem overwhelming to people at first, but they have honestly simplified our lives. When one bottle of oils can be used many different ways, that translates to less. Less products. Less waste. Less chemicals. Less to think about and learn. As I’ve switched our store-bought beauty products for DIYs, our candles for diffusers, and our medications for oils, we’ve begun living a life of simplicity and wellness. Essential oils allow us to gain their therapeutic benefits in various ways each and every day throughout our home, whether we put them on our bodies or on our countertops. I live in peace knowing our environment is contributing to our overall health and wellness by working preventatively in our everyday use and giving us the opportunity to address our unique physical and emotional needs as they come up.