The use of essential oils for spiritual and medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times. The ancient Egyptian culture was especially well known for their use of essential oils in their rituals. Both the ancient Chinese and Indian cultures utilized essential oils to complement their healing practices. Essential oils are a natural alternative to everything from treating medical conditions, emotional and psychological concerns, to alternatives to household cleaning products.
When used for healing sometimes the oil may be applied directly to the skin or inhaled as an aromatherapy treatment. While we are not sure exactly how this works it is believed that the aroma of the oils activates centers in the brain triggering physical and emotional responses that support our health. Because essential oils are a “volatile compound” meaning that the quickly transition from liquid to gas when at room temperature, they are the perfect tool for the aroma therapist.
Essential oils are naturally occurring in nature and can be extracted from a wide variety of seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, leaves, etc. Essential oils are typically very concentrated with a strong smell. It often only takes a drop to overwhelm your senses and get the job done. To date there are over 3000 essential oils that have been identified. As a volatile compound the composition of the oil is important. Factors such as the ratio of the aromatic compound, the distillation process, and the age of the oil are important in determining the use and potency of the oil. Even the geographic location of the collection of the base ingredient can alter the healing properties of the essential oil to a degree.
If is important to treat essential oils with the respect of any other medicinal herb. Essential oils are extremely potent and can be toxic in excess. Essential oils should only be applied to the skin or inhaled. Pure essential oils are most often diluted with an oil base such as olive oil or jojoba oil before applying to skin in order to prevent burning, rash and or inflammation of the skin. Even when adding essential oils to an aroma diffuser it only takes a few drops distilled with a ¼ cup of water or more to achieve a more than sufficient aroma in the air. Not distilling the essential oil enough can make the smell so overpowering that it can cause headaches and other concerns until it dissipates.
Essential oils are flammable. They should never be placed near a flame or heated unless they are significantly diluted with water.
Be aware of your health conditions and check for any contraindications prior to using a particular oil. For example people diagnosed with high blood pressure should not use rosemary. Anyone receiving chemotherapy should first consult their physician before using essential oils. Some oils contain estrogen-like compounds, like sage, and should not be used by women with ovarian or breast cancer.
Choosing a product that is pure and does not contain synthetic ingredients, chemicals or other materials that dilute the oil allows you to achieve more predictable results as there are fewer ingredient variables, possible contaminants or possible allergens to contend with in delivering an essential oil treatment.
There are many ways to use essential oils depending on your purpose. Diffusers are a common tool used to disperse a sent throughout an area. Essential oils are often used during massage to stimulate positive emotions either by placing a drop on a cotton ball near the nose to be inhaled or diluted and mixed in with the massage oil itself. Oils at times may be applied directly to a wound to accelerate healing or to an acupuncture or pressure point and massaged in to assist in releasing a block. The possibilities are endless.
Essential oils are often purchased as individual oils. However blends of several oils are also available on the market. These blends in the right combination can also be extremely successful in producing specific results for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual purposes. The following is a list of common essential oils and possible applications.
Basil: Fight colds and bacteria. Add a couple of drops basil your foot bath or place a drop in each shoe to remove lingering foot odor.
Bergamot: Reduce tension or stress. Use in the shower for calming aroma and purifying skin or add a few drops to bath water for a relaxing bath. Anti-depressant. Relieves joint and muscle pain.
Cinnamon: Applied diluted, cinnamon can help soothe muscle aches and pains due to its antispasmodic and analgesic properties. Use in a diffuser to relieve chest cold symptoms. 2-3 drops in a spray bottle with water for a quick cleaning spray.
Citronella: Natural insect repellent. Inhale to reduce pain and inflammation. Kitchen cleaner.
Clove: Used to clean cuts and treat fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Dilute clove oil in a carrier oil before applying to skin. Add clove, cinnamon, or a citrus oil to pots of simmering water to rid your home of lingering food odors.
Eucalyptus: Works as a pesticide and has the ability to kill fungus, bacteria, insects, mites and weeds. Add 10 drops to baking soda then sprinkle the mixture onto a carpet. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before vacuuming. While washing bedding, add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil to get rid of mites.
Grapefruit Add a couple of drops of citrus essential oils like grapefruit and lemon to baking soda. Sprinkle the mixture over the bottom of your trash can. Inhale when feeling tired to boost energy.
Geranium: Use in a steam facial to improve skin texture and moisturize. Add a few drops to shampoo or conditioner. Calming, inhale to balance hormones. Rubbing a few drops of geranium oil on your pet can keep ticks from attaching to their skin.
Lavender: Lavender is an anti-inflammatory. It also has hydrating properties that help calm down irritated, stressed, or acne-prone skin. Inhale to experience less anxiety and fear, increase sense of well-being and reduce need for pain medications. For a headache rub lavender, oil on your temples to help relax. Add a couple of drops of chamomile and lavender oils to your pillow to enjoy a restful sleep. Apply to cuts to accelerate healing.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass is antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial, so it can be used as a powerful disinfectant. It also can repel insects.
Lemon: Well known as general purpose cleaner when mixed with water or apple cider vinegar. Strong antibacterial, astringent, and antiseptic properties. Aroma uplifts and invigorates. Mix oil with one part water and one part vodka for diy air freshener. Then pour the mixture into a diffuser for a fresh-smelling home. You can use lemon oil to dissolve substances such as wax, oil, chewing gum, or glue.
Marjoram: Dilute with massage oil and rub into back of neck to reduce stress or apply to muscles after exercise. Rub into feet prior to bed for a good night’s sleep.
Orange: The happy essential oil. When inhaled, it can help alleviate anxiety and boost your mood. Inhale to enhance immunity and boost circulation. Natural antibacterial, dilute and use as a kitchen cleaner.
Oregano: Add oregano oil to the soles of the feet to give your immune system a boost and take advantage of its antifungal properties. Combine with massage oil to massage into skin to help fight infections and promote healing.
Patchouli: Used to treat dandruff and oily scalp. Also applied to skin irritations to combat dryness, acne and eczema. Reduces depression and inflammation. Used to create musk perfume whose aroma is said to be an aphrodisiac for some.
Peppermint: Helps to relieve nausea and vomiting when inhaled. Spiders and rodents are repelled by the scent of peppermint. And 10-15 drops of peppermint oil to a spray bottle and spray near doors and cracks. Stop hiccups by adding 4 drops of peppermint oil to a shot glass full of water. Add peppermint oil and Epsom salt to warm water for a luxurious foot bath.
Pine: Detoxifying, stimulates blood flow helping to decrease swelling pain and soreness. Natural disinfectant. Used as household cleaner and air freshener.
Rosemary: Known as a dandruff tonic, and has even been reported to help stimulate hair growth. Peppermint, citronella, lemongrass and rosemary oil are known to deter flying insects. Add drops of these oils around windows to deter flying insects.
Sage: Add equal parts sage, frankincense, and eucalyptus oil to a bath to soothe a fever. To reduce foggy vision and heal from eye injury add 2–3 drops of clary sage oil to a clean and warm wash cloth; press cloth over both eyes for 10 minutes. Can give relief from coughs, colds, and infections in your chest and respiratory tracts. It also provides relief from congestion caused by the common cold.
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is well known for combatting acne. Proven as effective as benzoyl peroxide in treating acne, without any of the harsh side effects. Use it diluted as a spot treatment. Use hot water and a combination of lemon, tea tree, and sweet orange oils to unclog your pores. Allow steam from a bowl of hot water to waft onto your face before gently rubbing the oil mixture into the skin then wipe oil with a clean towel.
Vetiver: Inhaled to calm emotions, encourage deep relaxation and alleviate snoring.
Ylang Ylang: known for mood uplifting qualities. Add a couple of drops to a diffuser to invigorate your office and increase productivity. Apply to wrists as perfume. Refresh skin with steam facial using this oil.
These are just a few of the many uses for these essential oils. The possibilities are truly endless. Choose 2 or 3 methods you would like to experiment with and try incorporating essential oils into your daily routine to experience the difference they can make in your life.
These and other essential oils and essential oil blends can be found at the Online Organic Health Store.