I would like to preface this post with a link to my testimonial, just in case you missed it. In short, I am a wife, a science teacher, and a lover of essential oils. I am not an “all natural” connoisseur, I eat red meat, and I go to the doctor when I catch the flu. I have found useful ways to incorporate essential oils into my health and beauty routine and I have discovered that they can be powerful, cheap, and natural alternatives to many common household products. This post will give you some basic information about essential oils. Before you can dig into the large number of uses of essential oils, it is important to understand what they are, the basic ways you can experience their benefits, and important details about safety when using them.
The basic definition of an essential oil is a mixture of compounds that have been extracted from a plant through a variety of scientific procedures. These compounds are 100% plant extracts–they are EXTREMELY concentrated, and for that reason, they are extremely affordable–just pennies per drop (one drop of peppermint oil is equal to approximately 25 cups of herbal tea). Think of an essential oil as the life blood of a plant. These compounds are products that plants produce to protect themselves from pests, communicate with each other, and attract desired pollinators.
If you have ever smelled a rose or enjoyed the scent of freshly cut grass, you have already enjoyed the benefits of experiencing essential oils. These benefits are superficial. You can discover many additional benefits that nature can give to you by reading on:
How Can Essential Oils be Used?
You can experience essential oils in 3 ways:
- Aromatically– As mentioned above, plants often communicate using essential oils. A plant cannot walk around or discuss its problems with its neighbor verbally. Instead, plants have adapted a way of communicating many things with each other by producing compounds that are considered volatile-this means that their oils travel by air very easily.
By diffusing essential oils in the air, you can experience their aroma and many other benefits. Beyond the AMAZING scents that you will quickly fall in love with, these compounds can have an incredible affect on your mood and hormones. For example, a common use for lavender oil is to diffuse it at night time to help an individual experience a restful night of slumber. Inducing relaxation is a great way to experience essential oils, but it is not the only common use. Diffusing oils to promote increased brain function and focus is common; citrus oils have also been known to produce a fresh clean scent, as well. You can experience essential oils aromatically by placing a drop in your hands and cupping them over your nose, or diffusing them in a diffuser.
- Topically– Essential oils can also be experienced by applying them directly to your skin. It is important when using essential oils, you ONLY use oils that are considered therapeutic grade oils. This means that these oils have been extracted using only the best scientific methods and they do not contain any additives. Many companies will produce essential oils that are not truly therapeutic grade. The additives in the oils will compromise their effectiveness and safety.
Using essential oils (EOs) topically can be extremely powerful. When you apply them to your feet, wrists, chest, neck or temples, they can easily penetrate your skin cells and enter your blood stream in as little as 30 seconds. In fact, in only 30 minutes after being applied topically, EOs will have had an effect on every cell in your body. This is because of their unique properties: EOs are extremely small lipid (fat) soluble compounds. For this reason, they are able to pass through the membranes of your cells without the aid of a transport protein (think back to your high school biology course for this reference).
When using EOs topically, you can increase their cost effectiveness by diluting them in a safe carrier oil. In fact, it is recommended to dilute all of your EOs when applying them topically (but some oils MUST be diluted). By diluting your oils you decrease the cost by making each drop go further and you decrease the rate at which the oils evaporate into the air (remember how volatile they are). This practice makes them last longer and increases their effectiveness even further. See the graphic to the right for more on diluting essential oils.
- Internally– the third way that you can experience the benefits of essential oils is by taking them internally. The easiest way to do this is by adding a drop or two to your water. There are many essential oils that can be safely ingested, as long as you trust the company you are purchasing from and the oils is a therapeutic grade oil. As you remember, plants create essential oils as a protective measure against pests. Because of this, EOs have been found to be extremely anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal compounds. Due to this fact, EOs are very useful in helping keep you healthy internally, but I also urge extreme caution if you decide to take them internally. Before you decide that this is a necessity, I suggest doing your research on the oil in question.
Other Safety Concerns to Note
Many people have found joy in using essential oils in their every day lives. It is important to learn all of the basics before diving in, though. Below is a list of important safety tips for anyone that intends on using essentials oils in their life or sharing them with members of his/her family.
Essential oils can be used safely on kids.
The same safety concerns are echoed as above, but it is important to recognize that children are much smaller than adults and have more sensitive skin.
Any time an oil is being used topically on a child it MUST be diluted. In addition, it is generally safe to dilute the oil to half the concentration of the recipe for an adult. EOs SHOULD not be given to infants internally! Contact me for more information about using essential oils safely on children or during pregnancy.
Some essential oils can be used safely during pregnancy. However, there is a large list of essential oils that are not considered safe for pregnancy. Most of these are during the first trimester. In addition, Essential oils can cause skin irritation (dilute them with carrier oils to avoid this). Always test a small section of skin for irritation before applying an oil to a large area of your skin. If you have any natural allergies, essential oils will not be excluded from that. For example, if you have a natural allergy to sage, then using sage essential oil in any way is probably not the best option for you.
If you need to wash an essential oil off of your skin, DO NOT USE WATER! Oils are not soluble in water. Dousing your skin in water will only drive the oil deeper into your skin. Instead you should use a carrier oil for rinsing off.
Many citrus oils can induce sun sensitivity when they are used topically. Be sure to read the label of any oil for this possibility and be aware of it before applying the oil to your skin.
In summary of my safety concerns, my suggestion is to research EVERY essential oil that you intend on using before actually using it. If you question its safety, it is probably best not to include that oil into your everyday routine. I have experienced ENORMOUS benefits from including essential oils in my health and beauty routine. I cannot wait to share more detailed uses and benefits of EOs in my future entries.
For more information regarding essential oils and to learn about my trusted brand, click here.
Disclosure: All information on teacherlovesessentialoils is meant for educational and informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.