Beginner’s guide

Can essential oils enrich your life? They sure have enriched ours! From a Lavender -infused bedtime routine to a cleaner-smelling Lemon -y kitchen, we have the tips, tricks and guidelines you need to know before you start using essential oils.

Always use high quality oils. Your health is a priority and you shouldn’t jeopardize it by using cheap essential oils because many cheaper brands contain contaminants, fillers, and haven’t been tested properly.

Always use personal judgment. Listen to your nose and your body as they will tell you what is right or wrong for you.

Always be safe although safe doesn’t mean foolproof. Safe is a relative term. Even drinking too much water (a necessity for life) can harm your health. Keep in mind that each person has different thresholds and sensitivities. When using essential oils, some of them are very potent, so it’s always a good idea to start small and see how you react and feel.

Always follow the techniques and recommendations on essential oils usage and safety so that you can get the most benefits out of them.

Learning how to use essential oils can be overwhelming. There are a lot of different oils, blends, and many different uses for each. There are also many different methods in which you can apply the oils.

REMEMBER: Not all oils can be applied in the same way! Always start small, do your research carefully and use your judgment.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are highly aromatic oils derived from plants. They can be pulled from any botanical matter and are typically extracted from flower petals, citrus peels, grasses, tree barks, and resins. The oils are extracted through a variety of methods, including cold pressing and steam distillation.

How should I use essential oils?

  1. AROMATICALLY

Essential oils are best known for their aromas, which can help create an environment to suit your specific needs. You can infuse the air directly with your favourite essential oil aroma by using diffusers. These handy aroma atomizers can be placed anywhere you crave a fresh scent.

Aromatic application is the most known and widely used. Many people know that essential oils can be used to freshen up and deodorize the room, but few realize that there is more to aromatic application than simply to freshen the air.

In the same way that harmful compounds, such as chemical cleaners, gases or other environmental pollutants can be absorbed into our blood stream through inhalation, so can the positive helpful compounds found in essential oils. Essential oils are processed by the Olfactory bulb and limbic system which is what process our thoughts, emotions, memories and are largely responsible for our emotional state.

Aromatic application can be beneficial to the respiratory system, sinuses, air quality and mood. It can also encourage immune system response and promote well-being.

Here are some aromatic applications:

Diffusing: Use a good quality diffuser that use cool or room temperature air or ultrasonic vibrations to diffuse the oil into the air.

Direct inhalation: Inhale the oil directly by holding the bottle of essential oil close to your nose and breathe in the aroma, or by adding a drop diluted in a carrier oil on the hands and cupping them over the mouth and nose.

Indirect Inhalation: Adding a drop of oil to your pillow, shirt collar or piece of fabric can be beneficial as well.

Hot water vapor steam tent: Heat a pot of water (not boiling), add a few drops of essential oil, place a towel over your head while leaning over the pot of water and inhale the steam. Make sure to take special care that the pot of water is secured so that you do not spill and burn yourself.

Humidifier: Use a cool air humidifier and add a few drops of essential oil to the water.

NOTE: essential oils may damage any plastic components over time, so getting a humidifier made for essential oils is recommended.

Fan and vent: Add the oil to a cloth and place it in a vent or in front of a fan.

Perfume or cologne: Add a drop or small dab to the wrists, behind ears or add 10 drops to 1-3 tsp of distilled water and mist on the body or clothing.

Natural Air Freshener: Why not use essential oils to freshen up your rooms rather than harsh chemicals? You can create a room deodorizer by taking a half cup of distilled water, half cup of vodka, 20-40 drops of your essential oil of your choice and mix it together in a visually pleasing jar. At the end, add 9 or more bamboo skewers to the mixture sticking half way out of the bottle. They will distribute the aroma throughout your rooms easily.

REMEMBER: Although using essential oils aromatically is the easiest and safest way, you must pay attention to how your body responds. Aromatic way is still a potent use of essential oils and too much can cause adverse effects like headache, nausea or skin reaction if you are allergic to the oil.

  1. TOPICALLY

Many essential oils have skin-enhancing benefits and can be applied directly to the skin or added to your existing beauty products. You can also combine them with a carrier oil or your daily moisturizer for easy application.

REMEMBER: Every essential oil is used differently. Some oils may need to be diluted. Even if they don’t, the oil may still cause rash or discomfort for people with sensitive skin.

Know your skin! Do you have sensitive skin? If so, then it is probably a good idea to start very small and always dilute the oil no matter which one you are using. Consider doing a test patch on a small area of your inner arm to start with. Start with a single diluted drop then slowly increase an undiluted drop. Make sure to only use one oil at a time in case you have a negative reaction to it so you will know which oil caused the reaction.

Just because you diluted an oil, it doesn’t mean it won’t be effective. It’s a good idea to do this especially when just starting out and learning how your body reacts to various oils and blends.

Here are some topical applications:

Massage: One really relaxing and beneficial way to use essential oils is to incorporate them into massage oil whilst massaging them into joints, muscles and tissues. Move toward the heart when working on arms and legs and avoid firm pressure and sensitive areas.

Over the affected area: Apply the oils (diluted) to the chest, abdomen, back, neck, or directly over the affected area. You can also apply the oils to the Chakras or Energy Centres.

On reflex points: One of the most effective ways of applying essential oils is on the reflex points of the hands, feet, and ears. The feet is the most effective since the oils enter the blood stream through the feet very quickly. The outside of the feet are tough enough that a reaction or irritation is much less likely to occur. The reflex areas of the hands, feet, and ears correspond to different areas of the body via the nervous system. Look up the visual guides to reflexology to understand which reflex points correspond to the area of the body that you wish to treat.

Hot or cold compresses: Soak a towel or cloth in cool/hot (not burning hot) water with drops of essential oils and then place over the affected area.

Bathing and foot bath: Add essential oils to your bathwater or foot bath. Use with carrier oil to help distribute the oil and prevent your skin from coming into contact with concentrated drops of the oils.

  1. INTERNALLY

Did you know that many essential oils can be taken internally? The oils are specifically labelled for internal use, making it easy to add a splash of flavour to food and drinks or to take oils in capsules as a dietary supplement.

REMEMBER: NOT ALL essential oils can be used internally. NOT ALL people should use them internally. Although, the FDA has listed certain essential oils as “Generally Recognized as Safe” for internal use, they still come with precautions.

The aromatherapy world is divided on the use of essential oils internally or even if you should use them internally at all. Remember that essential oils are potent and the more potent they are the more cautious you should be when using them, especially internally. Some oils are generally benign, yet some others require more care.

REMEMBER: It is important to keep oils out of the reach of children.

Here are some general guidelines:

Start slow: Rather than using many drops of an oil internally, start with one to see how it works first.

Delay between drops: It’s safer to use 1 drop 30-90 minutes apart, rather than multiple drops all at once. Your liver can only process oils in small doses because it breaks them down more slowly anyway.

Personal judgment: Internally doesn’t always work better. Sometimes topical application works just as well if not better. So save your internal use for when you really feel like you need it.

Limit the intake of drops: Try not to consume more than 10-15 drops of all essential oils in a single day and the upper range is reserved really only for citrus oils. It’s really only recommended to take up to 5 drops per day for a healthy adult and only when you absolutely need them.

Be careful with certain oils: If you wouldn’t normally eat it, then think twice before consuming an oil. Oils high in phenols like Oregano, Cinnamon, or Thyme are generally more likely to accumulate in the liver so use sparingly.

Dilute: Always a good idea to dilute an oil with an edible carrier oil like raw coconut oil or olive oil. This will lessen the likelihood of any irritation or adverse reactions.

Avoidance is sometimes necessary: If you are pregnant, nursing, have a major health issue, weakened immune system or liver problems then avoidance of internal use of most (if not all) oils until you speak with a qualified naturopathic physician is highly recommended.

 

DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented in our article have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment when indicated, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your naturopathic physician about the use of these or any other complimentary modalities.