An essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the “oil of” the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is “essential” in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils do not as a group need to have any specific chemical properties in common, beyond conveying characteristic fragrances.
Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. Other processes include expression, or solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soap and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for scenting incense and household cleaning products.
Various essential oils have been used medicinally at different periods in history. Medical application proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to remedies for cancer, and are often based on historical use of these oils for these purposes. Such claims are now subject to regulation in most countries, and have grown more vague to stay within these regulations.
Interest in essential oils has revived in recent decades with the popularity of aromatherapy, a branch of alternative medicine which claims that the specific aromas carried by essential oils have curative effects. Oils are volatilized or diluted in a carrier oil and used in massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer or by heating over a candle flame, or burned as incense.
The Twelve Best Ways of Using Essential Oils for Health and Healing
1. Dry Brushing:
To stimulate the skin, and the lymphatic system all over the body use a natural bristle bath brush with two or three drops of a stimulating essential oil (rosemary or pink grapefruit are good choices if not contraindicated) to the bristles and brush your skin, from the toes up to the heart, from the fingers to the heart, always working from the extremities toward the heart. Brush lightly but cover your whole body. This is effective either before or after your morning shower. I would omit the face and neck from this process.
For sinus or bronchial problems:
add 5 to 7 drops to a bowl of steaming hot water, put a ‘towel tent’ over the head to capture the steam. Close your eyes and inhale until water cools or until you stop smelling the oil. Repeat, if necessary, every four or five hours.
3. Candle diffusers:
Usually a heat resistant vessel for water and essential oils, and a heat resistant platform that holds the vessel over a small candle.
Advantages: very simple to use; provides light background fragrance.
Disadvantages: does not produce strong concentration for therapeutic benefits.
(cool mist). Add from 3 to 9 drops of your chosen EO to the water of the humidifier. Run overnight, or add the essential oils two or three times a day. This is an effective method if using the essential oils with a sick child, since there is not risk of danger from hot water, etc.
General use, for colds, flu, sore muscles, relaxation:
From 5 to 10 drops in a tub of warm water. Fill tub, add oils, swish to disperse in the water. you might try adding the oils to a spoonful of honey, a small cup of milk or cream, or to your favorite carrier oil, and then adding to the water.
Excellent for topical application to ease pain, from strained muscles, menstrual cramps, etc. Add 4 to 7 drops of Essential Oil to a bowl of warm water. Swish the surface of the water with a cloth, wring out, apply to area, repeat when cloth cools. You may cover the warm cloth with a sheet of plastic and a towel to keep the warmth in longer. This is an excellent method for treating painful menstrual cramps.
add three drops of essential oil per person. This may be repeated every 30 minutes. Be aware that some sources warn that the oils may do damage to plastic plumbing.
After a shower, apply 5 to 7 drops to a damp wash cloth. Rub briskly all over the body. Preferably allow to air dry.
9. Bath Salts:
Use a blend of Epsom Salts (good for sore, aching muscles), Sea Salt, Baking Soda. Add 6 to 10 drops of your chose oil blend. Either add to warm bath, or use as a ‘salt glow’ rub before the bath. Adding a spoonful of your favorite carrier oil to the salt glow leaves your skin feeling soft and silky, but makes the tub harder to clean.
Essential Oils may be added to the washing machine, or a few drops put on a cotton cloth and added to the dryer. If using in the washer, the warnings above about possible damage to plastic or hard rubber parts would apply.
Adding a teaspoon of Lemon Oil to the washer will remove greasy/oily smells. (A great trick for Massage .therapists!)
Research indicates that adding Eucalyptus Globulous to the washing machine MAY kill dust mites in bedding.
Lavender EO in the dryer can scent bed linens
To really preserve the scent of EO’s used in the dryer, add them and run on a ‘no heat’ cycle for a few minutes at the end of the drying cycle.
Use Lemon or Grapefruit EO, possibly with a touch of Tea Tree oil added, in the water you clean with. Wipe down kitchen counters and your bathroom with these cleansing, germicidal oils. I find that Lemon Oil in water does a wonderful job cleaning the bathroom mirror, as well as all the fixtures.
11. Washing Dishes:
Lemon Oil is a great grease cutter; I add a few drops to the dish pan.
Essential Oil in Kitchen:
Either add a drop or two of a citrus, spice, or floral EO to a cup of honey, mix well and let stand, OR put a couple of drops of the same EO on a scrap of paper towel, lay on top of a jar of sugar, seal tightly and let stand for a week. Add the flavour of the fresh plant to sugar for tea, baking, etc.
Warnings: A general rule is to never apply more than one to two drops of undiluted oil to the skin. Patch testing is always advisable. For people with sensitive skin, always test a small area with a diluted oil before applying over a larger area. For general non-medical use, avoid essential oils with highly sensitive skin and with any instances of skin allergies, severe inflammation and dermatitis. Pure essential oils are much less dangerous than synthetic aroma chemicals.
- Do not use essential oils internally.
- Do not apply directly to skin; always dilute with carrier oil.
- Keep out of reach of children.
- Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes.
- Do not use citrus oils before exposure to UV light.
- Use only pure essential oils; avoid synthetic fragrances.
- Do not use essential oils on infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, or those with serious health problems, without advanced medical study.
- Avoid prolonged exposure without ventilation.
- Store essential oils and carrier oils properly to avoid degradation and rancidity.