Using essential oils: a complete beginner's guide (part 1)

Using essential oils: a complete beginner's guide (part 1)

How Can Essential Oils Help You?

Humans have used essential oils for thousands of years, and their advantages have been widely documented and supported by scientific research. During the Middle Ages, essential oils expanded throughout Europe and became a specialty in medieval pharmacies in the 16th century. Their popularity continued to grow throughout the regions, bringing us to today — where essential oils are now used worldwide as part of a multibillion-dollar industry.

This article will cover the basics of essential oils, their benefits, and how you may begin appreciating the value of essential oils in your daily life.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are plant extracts that are created through a process of distillation. These oils are used primarily in aromatherapy, a healing technique that uses the scent of natural plant extracts to promote well-being and physical and emotional health. They can be used in various other ways as well, including in capsule form, topically, and in poultices.

Today, a wide range of essential oils are available for purchase. Large-scale companies and local farms have also created blends of different compounds that can help to alleviate and manage symptoms or simply support your natural health and well-being. Not sure where to start?

The most popular essential oils sold today include:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass
  • Frankincense
  • Lemon
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus

Any of these can help you start enjoying essential oils regularly as part of your wellness routine and add to your overall quality of life.

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Using essential oils exactly as directed will ensure that you reap the best results. The following are some of the main benefits that you will see when you introduce essential oils into your daily life:

  • Boost in mood
  • Improves sleep
  • Soothe emotional upset
  • Aids in pain management
  • Headache relief
  • Support healthy inflammation

These are just a handful of the proven benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy. Again, we recommend contacting your local holistic health shop for a comprehensive list of benefits and additional information on other benefits essential oils can provide.

How To Use Essential Oils?

Since there are several ways to use essential oils, there will be different benefits to each method of use. The most common ways to use essential oils are:

  1. Aromatically
  2. Topically
  3. Internally

Before use, we always recommend that you seek guidance from a naturopathic doctor or specialist who can help you to determine which method is suitable for your overall health goals.

Using Essential Oils Aromatically

essential oil diffuser

At the same time, essential oils are potent extracts of nature that carry with them unique plant phytochemicals that complimentary react with the brain eliciting responses that can be calming and relaxing or brightening and uplifting, depending on the essential oil of choice. Aromatherapy uses essential oils for therapeutic benefit, and it has been used for centuries. Modern scientific research has confirmed why aromatherapy has been a distinct part of nearly all cultures' health and medical protocol. When inhaled, molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and significantly impact the amygdala, the brain's emotional center. The brain perceives these aromas and connects to strong emotional responses that create a shift within the body.

By selecting an essential oil with complimentary phytochemicals for the action, you desire, you can create an atmosphere within your day and home that supports the needed shift in your life, whether that's more peace and serenity or more creativity and energy.

The most common way to benefit from aromatherapy is to use an essential oil diffuser. Suppose you choose to use an oil diffuser. To determine which type of diffuser is correct for you, consider the four main categories of personal essential oil diffusers:

Nebulizing Diffuser

Nebulizing diffusers work by distributing the essential oil through a chamber that makes an ultra-fine mist so that the essential oil can be lifted into the air and dispersed quickly in a room. While it effectively fills a room rapidly, it is also one of the downfalls of a nebulizing diffuser. The aroma diffused by the nebulizer can quickly become overwhelming in a room and, consequently, are typically used for a short time, which reduces the all-day benefit that aromatherapy offers.

Ultra-Sonic Diffuser

Ultra-sonic diffusers often appear as if they are producing steam. However, there is no steam involved with an ultrasonic diffuser (steam would require the water to be heated up, which it isn't).

A small disc or membrane in the bottom of the diffuser creates ultrasonic vibration, about 2.5 million per second; this "agitates" the water enough so that it, and the essential oils, get broken down into their base molecules. A fine mist is produced, which carries both the essential oil and water through the air.

Since Ultra-sonic diffusers use both water and essential oil to produce a mist, there is a dualistic benefit. The first creates a fine mist of essential oil, and the second acts as a small humidifier. The aroma dispersed from an Ultra-sonic diffuser is more subtle compliments all-day use.

The essential oil is also less concentrated, making it a safer choice for infants, small children, and pets. Ultra-sonic diffusers are also much more cost-effective, allowing you to purchase several units for a whole-house benefit to the cost of one nebulizing diffuser.

Which diffuser is better?

It is up to you and your aromatherapy goals. Both are a good option, but for the overall value, ease of use, and safety, the Ultra-sonic diffuser may have the competitive edge. Using Essential Oils Topically You can also use essential oils by applying them topically. This works because the oil penetrates the skin easily, making it a safe way to introduce essential oils into your system. Using essential oils topically will improve your complexion and skin tone and can be used safely daily by following the suggested use.

Use less rather than more.

  • The topical application of essential oils is one of the most popular uses and has many benefits. However, because essential oils are highly concentrated and potent, it's crucial to understand how to dilute when necessary.

Watch for signs that your body may be more sensitive to essential oils

  • Your skin becomes less moisturized or begins to look leathery in the application area
  • The application area becomes itchy or irritated You develop a headache shortly after using any essential oil
  • Tip: Drink an additional 16-20 oz. of water daily for the next 2-3 days and stop using essential oils until the symptoms subside. If you wish to continue using essential oils, re-introduce them to your system in a more diluted form and less application frequency.
  • The essential oil is not fully absorbed into the skin within 5-7 minutes. (For children, absorption may take up to 15 - 30 minutes due to carrier oil.

You can use essential oils topically practically everywhere! Apply the essential oils directly on the crown of your head, behind your ears, or on your neck and back. Lavender and cedarwood oils are also commonly used in massage therapy and can enhance the relaxation effects of a massage. Suggestion on where to apply essential oils:

  • Temples, forehead, shoulders, and back of the neck - Apply essential oils to these locations to reduce the feelings of tension, stress, and emotional upset.
  • Face - Apply essential oils to the face to promote a healthy complexion and reduce blemishes.
  • Chest - Apply essential oils to the chest to help relax feelings of chest tightness and promote clear breathing.
  • Abdomen - Apply essential oils to the abdomen to encourage digestive support and help relieve digestive discomfort.
  • Arms, back, legs - Apple essential oils to these locations to reduce muscles tightness and soreness after an exercise or physical activity.
  • Bottoms of your feet - Apply essential oils to the bottom of the feet to try a new oil or general well-being, as the bottom of the feet provides the optimum absorption of essential oils. The bottom of the feet also is an area of low sensitivity, making it a perfect area to try new essential oil your body is not accustomed to yet.

When using essential oils topically, you should always dilute unless advised by a trained healthcare provider. Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent; using too much essential oil may not suit your body. However, properly diluting essential oils is a safe and effective way to effortlessly provide daily benefits to yourself and your family.

Suggested dilution recommendations:

  • 0.5% = 1 drops essential oil for every 10 ml of essential oil.
  • 1% = 1 drop of essential oil for every 100 drops of carrier oil or 2 – 3 drops of essential to 10 ml of a carrier oil
  • 2% = 2 drops of essential oil for every 50 drops of carrier oil or four drops of essential oil to 10 ml of a carrier oil
  • 3% = 1 drop of essential oil for every 33 drops of carrier oil or 6 drops of essential oil to 10 ml of a carrier oil
  • 4% = 1 drop of essential oil for every 25 drops of carrier oil or 8 drops of essential oil to 10 ml of a carrier oil
  • 5% = 1 drop of essential oil for every 10 drops of carrier oil or 10 drops of essential oil to 10 ml of a carrier oil
  • Neat = No dilution of the essential oil with a carrier oil. Consult your qualified naturopathic or other trained and qualified essential oil experts before using essential oils neat.

Topical use on children

Essential oils are a great choice to care for young children and babies. It is important to remember that their young systems are still developing and are very sensitive. Follow our recommended guidelines to keep children safe by diluting your essential oils with the proper ratio for their age.

  • Ages 6 mo. – 2 yrs. 0.5% - 1% dilution -- Recommended: Do not apply more than 3 times throughout the day. Up to 2-3 drops per application.
  • Ages 2 -6 yrs. 1% - 2% dilution -- Recommended: Do not apply more than 3 times throughout the day. Up to 3-5 drops per application.
  • Ages 6-15 yrs. 2% - 3% -- Recommended: Do not apply more than 3-5 times daily. Up to 4-8 drops per application.
  • Ages 15+ 2.5% - 5% -- Recommended: Do not apply more than 3-5 times daily. Up to 4-8 drops per application.

Using Essential Oils Internally

The final way to apply essential oils is to take them internally. When you use essential oils internally, the oils enter the body through the GI tract. Then, they are absorbed and dispersed throughout the rest of your body, including your brain. Knowing the correct dosage and following the recommendations by health professionals is even more important when using essential oils internally. Common ways to use essential oils internally include adding the oils to your water, tea, or milk. You could also incorporate the oils in cooking or baking recipes.

Getting Started Using Essential Oils

Getting started with essential oils couldn't be any more accessible than it is today. Essential oils can be quickly purchased online, and benefits are shared instantly through social media. No matter which application method you use for your essential oils, always read the instructions provided by the manufacturer for safe and effective use. This way, you can be certain that your essential oils are being used to their full potential!

Leave your comment
11/13/2022 9:45 AM
Clear explanation  thank you