Benefits of Essential Oils

Benefits of Essential Oils

Though essential oils have a dark side if used incorrectly, they have been safely used by many people to:

 

Improve immunity and speed illness recovery

Deal with infection (under the care of a professional)

Balance hormones

Make homemade cleaning or beauty products

For diffusing and natural air cleansing

Topically (when diluted)

In recipes like homemade bug spray to avoid outdoor pests naturally

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated non-water soluble phytochemicals that are distilled from different parts of plants. They can be distilled from leaves, roots, flowers and other parts of plants and are very potent because of their concentration of phytochemicals.

 

Herbs and plants have been used for thousands of years and modern society has lost some of the wisdom of past generations and the ability to address illness with these natural solutions.

 

Essential oils have gained incredible popularity in recent years, but they are really an age-old remedy that have become popular again (though it is important to note that many modern essential oils are more concentrated than the oils used historically because of better distillation techniques).

 

More is not always better…

 

Essential oils are extremely potent and it is important to use as little as needed, not as much as possible. When a few drops of an oil used topically or aromatically will work, using more or consuming it internally is not only unnecessary, but may actually be harmful.

 

Another concern with modern essential oil use (especially the overconsumption that often accompanies regular internal use) is the long term sustainability of essential oils. Since a tremendous amount of plant material is needed to extract the oils, their long-term and widespread use could potentially create a negative, world-wide environmental effect.

 

Differences in Quality

The quality of essential oils on the market varies greatly. Essential oils can be quite expensive, but a high quality essential oil takes a large amount of plant material to produce and is highly concentrated. Many inexpensive essential oils are available commercially, but are altered with other oils or do not pass third party testing because of their inferior quality.

High quality oils should be produced without chemicals and come from organic plants that grow in their natural environment and growing region.

 

Safe Use of Essential Oils

Essential oils are very powerful plant compounds and should be used carefully and in the correct way. I’ve seen a lot of information promoting the regular internal use of essential oils and while there can absolutely be a place for this, I think it is important to be careful and check with a qualified professional when consuming them internally since they are so strong.

 

My two favorite ways to use essential oils are diffusing and topical use. The body can still utilize the beneficial parts of the oil and this is a much gentler (yet still effective) approach.

 

Topical Use

Essential oils contain tiny molecules that are much more easily absorbed into the body than other types of oils, so when an oil is used on the skin, the body rapidly obtains the benefit of the oil. This is why it is also important to follow safe usage guidelines, even for topical use.

 

I highly recommend diluting any oils that are used on skin with a safe carrier oil and consulting with a qualified aromatherapist or functional medicine doctor before using topically, especially on children.

 

Aromatic Use

Essential oils can also be diffused into the air. This process is known as aromatherapy and provides the benefits of the oils as they are inhaled. There is evidence that the oils are absorbed into the blood stream when inhaled.

 

Some research has shown that aromatic use is actually more effective that internal use, and it is certainly much safer.

I reviewed some of my favorite Aromatic diffuser blends in this post.

 

Popular Essential Oils

 

  • Peppermint– We use it on feet for nausea or fever, in homemade cleaners and soaps, and in the diffuser. For congestion, I add a few drops of Peppermint and other oils to a pot of steaming water and breathe in the steam to help open the sinuses.

  • Lavender– I use it in skin care recipes and as a calming oil when needed. It is naturally antibacterial and I often add it to homemade cleaners. I also add Lavender to bath water to help me relax at night.

  • Lemon, Lime and Orange– These citrus essential oils are astringent and antiseptic and are thought to stimulate the immune system. They are uplifting and considered cleansing. We avoid these in the sun since they do make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. In some studies they are shown to have antimicrobial properties.

  • Frankincense– I use topically on my thyroid and it seems to have helped shrink the nodules that were forming (along with dietary changes).

  • Rosemary– I add a drop to my shampoo to increase hair growth and improve scalp health.

  • Tea Tree/Melaleuca – I add this to natural cleaning products as it is naturally antibacterial and smells great when mixed with a citrus oil or lavender.

 

DIY with Essential Oils

One benefit of essential oil usage is that you can save money in other areas of the budget, such as using them in DIY beauty products and homemade cleaning products that no longer have to be purchased at retail from the store.

For example:

 

  • We make our own natural cleaning products with essential oils and inexpensive ingredients like baking soda and white vinegar to save money on cleaning products

  • We use essential oils in place of candles and air fresheners

  • We use essential oils and white vinegar to make homemade fabric softener instead of store bought.

  • We use essential oils and other natural ingredients to make our own salves, lotion, mists and other personal care products which help save money and is good for the environment.

 

Where I Get Essential Oils

We purchase our essential oils from multiple companies and sources, depending on the blend, usage and availability.  There can be a substantial difference in quality between brands, so I always make sure the source is certified organic and available in various sizes (including bulk sizes at a discount) whenever possible. 

 

A Note of Caution:

Wherever you buy essential oils, you should always ensure they are:

 

  • Organic. Pesticides can be more concentrated in essential oils.

  • Sourced from the native region for each plant

  • Not altered or adulterated in any way

  • List any precautions and contraindications (pregnancy, medications, etc) for each oil.

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