Essential Oils: what you need to know

I love essential oils.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking I am going to go on and on about how you can cure everything from a leg amputation to a hemorrhage by sprinkling a little lavender oil on it.  Well I’m not. So settle down!  Truth is, neither of those things can be cured by the use of essential oils…but essential oils definitely have their place in the healing process.

I have been using essential oils for decades.  Honestly… I can recall my mom slapping tea tree oil on minor skin abrasions or putting it in our shampoo in my childhood.  My mom was using essential oils long before it was cool to do so.  It has given me a confidence in essential oils because I know they work and they feel like “home” to me.  I use them everyday as a part of my own path to well-being and healing and I wanted to share my love with all of you!

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What are Essential Oils anyways?

In a nutshell, essential oils are natural oils which have been extracted from plants and/or plant parts.  They capture the plants essence- the scent, flavor, and other components. They can be extracted from various plant parts including the leaves, flowers, stem, needles, roots, and seeds of the plant.  Some essential oils need to be extracted from a specific part of the plant, and others can be extracted from multiple parts of the plant (such as cinnamon oil can be extracted from the leaves or the bark). They are commonly used in aromatherapy and are thought to act on your body’s olfactory system. Of course they are used for more then just aromatherapy as some people use them for antibiotic salves, acne, and other uses too….they just have gained their popularity by being a natural way to practice aromatherapy.

Essential oils are incredibly concentrated.  Think back to my post about making tea (which can be found by clicking this).  Recall what I said about how important it is to cover your mug while your tea steeps so as not to lose the essential oils to evaporation?  Well, true essential oils are often steam distilled, extracted and bottled up which causes them to be extremely concentrated.  Typically, one to two drops of an essential oil is the equivalent to 50 (or maybe even more) cups of tea!!  This is why a little goes a long way!

How do you use Essential Oils?

There are three general ways people use essential oils- topically (on their skin), through inhalation (directly through an inhaler or the bottle, and indirectly through a diffuser), and internally.  I am not an advocate of internal use.  Personally, I feel, because they are so concentrated it is difficult to measure the “dose” you would be getting in a drop or two…and too much of certain oils (especially if used internally) can be toxic.  This is why I steer clear of using essential oils internally and I suggest you do too.  Safety first!  Now of course, if you are working with a doctor or medical professional who specializes in essential oils and is monitoring your care, and they tell you to use a specific oil internally- by all means, feel free to follow their advice.  Just never do it without seeking the guidance and monitoring of a trained medical professional!

Topical.  There’s a couple different ways to apply oils to your skin.  The first being what is called “neat” application.  This means you apply the oil directly to your skin without diluting it first.  If you are just starting out using oils, please do some research first before doing this.  Some oils are not meant to be applied to skin neat and run the risk of causing injury to your skin (whether an itchy rash, a burn, or just a minor skin irritation).  Take peppermint for example- this is an oil that runs the risk of causing some major irritation if applied neat.  That’s not to say I never apply peppermint oil to my skin neat but I do so in very small amounts and in specific locations (like ONE drop to the back of my neck to ease tension or a drop in the palm of my hands and then I cup my hands and inhale to ease nasal congestion and headaches).

The next way to use essential oil on your skin is diluted.  This means you mix the essential oil with a carrier oil or another solvent.  Common carrier oils are coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil.  Remember, a little goes a long way, so you don’t typically need a ton of oil mixed in with your carrier.  Simply Earth (my favorite oil company….another blog on them will be coming shortly) has a book they give away free to download on their website that is full of dilution rates, recipes, and safety instructions.  I highly recommend checking it out.  (And if you do decide to subscribe to their oils, use this link and the code ROYALHEALNESSFREE for a special gift!)

Inhalation. There are a couple different ways to use essential oils by inhalation.  First is direct inhalation.  This is done by inhaling the oil directly from the bottle or by using an aromatherapy inhaler.  Aromatherapy inhalers are those cotton stick-like looking apparatus that you stick at the end of your nostril and inhale.  You can find them at most whole foods CoOp’s or you can find them on Amazon as well.  These are handy mainly because they come with a cap, so you can drop a couple drops of whatever oil(s) you want, pop the cap on, and take it with you.  If you aren’t wanting to purchase an inhaler, but you want to inhale the oil out of the bottle (for example, in the event that you want to blend one oil with another oil- like peppermint and lavender) you can use q-tips, cotton swabs, or paper towel.  Direct inhalation is a strong form of inhalation and should only be used short-term.  Also, it’s best not to use direct inhalation with children.

The second way to inhale your oils is through indirect inhalation.  Most commonly, people use devices called a diffuser to disperse diluted oils into the air and throughout the room.  I actually have one in my office that I use just about daily.  Some humidifiers are also being sold now with a special compartment for essential oils- definitely check your humidifier instructions before putting oil into it though.

What are the benefits and risks of using essential oils?

In other words, why should you use them?  Well there’s many reasons to use them. Essential oils can be used in DIY balms, salves, and lotions to add a nice scent; some oils have natural antibacterial qualities which makes them good on scrapes, in toothpastes, and other things; and then of course there’s many benefits to aromatherapy. Generally speaking, they are safe.  This means most people can use most oils with low risks of anything major happening.  With that said, not all oils are safe for everyone to use.  Some oils are not safe, and possibly even pretty toxic, for babies, children, and pets.

If you are new to essential oils, it is best to do some research before diving in to use.  Don’t assume that because it is natural it is safe!  Even if you are a long time user of oils, make sure to do some research before using a new oil on yourself and especially if you plan to use the oil on someone else (like your child or pet).  Check with your doctor, do some research, and/or check with a certified aromatherapist if you are ever questioning the safety of an oil or questioning if it is a good fit for you.  There are many resources out there to find out the safety, uses, and risks of each oil.  I have put together a list below of three of my favorite resources:

  • Aromahead Institute– offers a free online course “Introduction to Essential Oils”.  They also offer other paid courses and resources, but to get your feet wet, their free course is a great way to start.
  • Simply Earth– As I mentioned above, this is my go-to place for oils.  They offer free downloadable book on essential oils for beginners, as well as a profile of each oil on their website so you know its uses and who it’s safe for.
  • Dr.– Not going to lie, I like his website.  I find myself referencing his website for tips, tricks, and ideas for essential oils often.  He even has a couple of free webinars on essential oils as well that I would suggest taking advantage of if you are new to oils.

So that’s it for today on essential oils.  How do you use oils?  Do you have any different or creative ways to use oils?  Tell me below!

Until next time,


One Reply to “Essential Oils: what you need to know”

  1. I use two types of diffusers- one is a mister, the other is a small plug-in heater that warms little pads on which you drop one or two drops of oil. I love opening an oil bottle and taking a deep inhale, which also helps me remember to take deep calming breaths throughout the day. I believe my dogs — which of course have much more sensitive noses than mine— like the scents- they don’t avoid the scents or sneeze. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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