The ESSENTIAL Guide to Essential Oils
Essential oils are magical dynamic substances put here by Mother Earth. Since discovering their powers, I’ve opened up a world of holistic healing that is physical, mental, and cosmetic. They can be used in so many different ways to substitute for chemical remedies that we all take for granted. Do away with the tylenols, the chemical cleaners, the toxic face creams, (you name it) and start looking to essential oils, the less toxic, all-natural way of dealing with the issues around us. Here is a quick guide to get you started.
First, what are essential oils?
Essential oils are the fragrant essence of a plant. They are stored is small pouches, often in the plant’s outer layers (ie. the flavorful, fragrant liquid that squirts out when you squeeze a lemon peel), and they exist for adaptive purposes. They contain vitamins, hormones, antibiotics, and antiseptics that allow the plant to thrive in its environment. Their own unique combination, allows them to act as regulators and messengers, catalysts of biochemical reactions, protectors from parasites and diseases, reproducers of cells, and important figures in fertilization.
How should I store my essential oils?
Be sure to keep your essential oils in dark glass bottles where they are protected from prolonged heat. Under steady temperatures, your essential oils should keep for three years from their extraction date.
What guidelines should I follow when shopping for essential oils?
Unfortunately, it’s tough to find essential oils you can fully trust. The best things to look for are organic, distilled essential oils. The more information a company offers up, the better you can feel about their product. Look for details such as country of origin, method of growth, and process of extraction to get a handle on quality. A good rule of thumb is that established companies with a solid reputation have better buying power and are therefore more likely to offer good quality at a reasonable price. If you see oils such as rose, jasmine, neroli, or tuberose — which are very expensive to make — at inexpensive prices, this is a red flag that they are either synthetic reproductions, impure, chemically extracted, or inorganic, and you should not buy them.
What are the basic ways to use essential oils?
For the purposes of this piece, we will focus strictly on the aromatherapy uses of essential oils. This encompasses ways of using essential oils as healing and curative agents both physically/medicinally and emotionally/psychologically. You can utilize essential oils topically as well as by inhalation. Ingestion should only be practiced under the supervision of a physician, but one can feel completely safe to administer topical or inhaled remedies at home.
The easiest ways to apply essential oils topically are through massage, compress, or a mask. Oils, waxes, and fats absorb essential oils quickly, and can be combined to make a variety of remedies. You can make your combination depending on what the use is. For instance, rose essential oil combined with jojoba oil makes a great face moisturizer, while coconut oil and rosemary essential oil make a great hair mask. Essential oils will not integrate with water, and are hard to use with water-based products. That being said, I do love making compresses by heating water, stirring in essential oils, soaking a wash cloth in the mixture, and lightly laying the towel across my face for five minutes. The heat from the water causes your pores to open up and drink in the essences of your essential oil. It’s also a great way to inhale fragrances that will help with sinus or head cold issues. Lastly, you can make topical treatments using alcohol or vinegars. The most common example of this, is making a hair rinse. I like to make one with apple cider vinegar and rosemary essential oil to keep my hair shiny.
Inhaled remedies work great for sinus or cold issues, headaches, or psychological needs. I like to use a little candle diffuser with lavender, chamomile, rosewood, and peppermint essential oils to cure a headache. You can also make room sprays to affect your environment. Jasmine is an aphrodisiac, so you can try livening things up with your significant other by spritzing your bedroom with a jasmine room spray. I also like to make small smelling pouches using herbs soaked in essential oils. My favorite is a peppermint eucalyptus blend that clears my sinuses when things get stuffy.
Which basic essential oils do you recommend I stock at home?
Tea Tree: Great to have around as an antiseptic. It can be used to treat wounds and fungal infections, but also makes a great surface cleaner when combined with vinegar. Tea tree is also great for dandruff/hair care as well as acne.
Lavender: On the mental side, lavender is calming, balancing, and good at helping with stress. On the physical side, it is antiseptic, making it great for wounds and cleaning. Lavender has also been found to aid in the reproduction of skin cells.
Rosemary: Rosemary has been shown to improve memory, to help the mind focus, and to energize. As an analgesic, it helps relieve pain. It’s also great for hair, darkening brunette locks, reducing oil, and making hair grow.
Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is energizing and antiseptic. It is great for sinus or cold symptoms and respiratory issues.
Peppermint: Peppermint wakes up the mind to see clearer and to energize. It can be used to help calm a sick stomach.
Chamomile: A lot like lavender, chamomile is a calming sedative. It’s great if you’re having trouble sleeping or if you need to de-stress. On the physical end, it serves as an anti-inflammatory, and can help with issues such as cramps or a bloated stomach.
I would love hear what essential oils you love, and how you use them. Please feel free to drop a line in the comment
*Naomi Huober is the writer and photographer behind Numie Abbot She has a passion for living a healthy life, and enjoys adventure above all else. On the weekends you’ll find Naomi at a hot yoga class, volunteering at her local urban farm, or cooking up a delicious meal with friends. She lives in Philadelphia with her amazing boyfriend, sidekick canine Marley, and the cat she’s grown to love, Dot. Follow Naomi on Instagram for a further peek into her adventurous life.
*Image via here