A Guide to Essential Oils
Essential oils are truly a gift from nature. Smell is one if the most visceral senses in the human experience. In an instant can transport us to a different time, place and even change our mood. But most of us don't know how to use essential oils beyond aromatherapy. Essential oils have been used as a form of plant medicine and natural healing since ancient times and some consider it one of mankind's first medicine. These precious oils affect the mind, body and spirit. What are essential oils really? And how can we use them in a practical way?
Essential oils are aromatic, concentrated plant extracts from various parts of the plant or tree, wood or trunks, leaves, grass, needles, cones, flowers, buds, seeds, pods, roots or rhizomes, resins or gums carefully obtained through steam or hydro-distillation, cold pressing, or resin tapping. This is because the oils are concentrated in different parts of the plant. For example laurel essential oil is extracted from the leaves, ylang ylang from the star shaped flowers, and myrrh from the sap.
Essential oils provide us with the fragrant pharmacy full of remedies. Each essential oils has its own story. How it was grown, how it was harvested. Jasmine is hand picked the day the flowers open and the sandalwood tree must reach 30-40 ft in height before its heartwood can be distilled. Certain essential oils have anti viral, anti bacterial, anti fungal, antiseptic, anti inflammatory, antispasmodic, antidepressant, digestive, sedative, expectorant, restorative, circulatory, diuretic, vulnerary properties, to name a few. Their small molecular size can be easily absorbed into the body quickly.
One way to look at essential oils is that when you distill an essential oil you are not just distilling and essential oil you are separating a soul from a body. It is the true essence of a plant. When you have this awareness you can really appreciate how special essential oils really are. There is meaning behind essential oils, there is a presence associated with them and if you don't pay attention, can be easily overlooked.
There are several different ways to use essential oils and bring healing on every level of your life. Each oil can be used in various ways as well, and have different medicinal properties in the way you use them. For example essential oils can be used aromatically, topically, internally and used around the home. Valarie Ann Wormword says "Each essential oil, like a prism, contains a rainbow of possibilities."
Using aromatherapy can change your mood in an instant. When you smell a rose for example you are consuming these volatile oils. These oils are microscopic and so light they are leaving the rose and entering the olfactory system of the body! The simple act of rubbing a couple drops of essential oil in between the hands and inhaling can be effective. You can go a step further and make a simple room spray by adding 10-20 drops essential oil in 2 1/2 cups water. Use antimicrobial essential oils like lemon, bergamot and citronella for the bathroom not only to kill germs but to add a nice fragrance. Or create a special blend for the bedroom using geranium and lavender to aid in restful sleep. Diffusing essential oils is also an effective way of fragrancing the home too. Diffusing can be used to deodorize the home, uplift the mood or even help combat bacterial and viral infections in the atmosphere. If you have a fireplace or a wood burning stove, add 1-2 drops of pine or cypress essential oil to a log an hour before placing on the fire.
Chemical formulas aren’t your only option when it comes to cleaning your home. Purify your home with completely natural ingredients and essential oils. Enjoy peace of mind when you polish countertops, wash sticky hands, and take care of laundry with the effective cleansing power of essential oils. A simple and very effective all purpose solution is vinegar, water (1:3) and essential oils.
Essential oils can be used topically and in many ways. Dilute a few drops of eucalyptus and rosemary essential oil with a carrier oil and massage onto sore muscles. Or blue spruce with carrier oil onto chest for coughs and colds. Essential oils have been used in bath and beauty products for their incredible skin healing properties. Infuse essential oils in bath salts or honey masks. Geranium rose essential is used in Witch in the Woods products like the facial toner and the serum for its astringent properties that tighten and brighten the skin due to its anti inflammatory properties.
Yes, you can take essential oils internally when used mindfully! In herb school we learned about the misuse of essential oils. There is still an ongoing debate about this. We must remember that essential oils are potent gifts from nature that can often be more powerful than expected. In order to prevent misuse of these precious oils and ensure their maximum benefit be sure to know how to use your essential oils. It is also important to know where the plants were cultivated. Not all essential oils are created equally. Inexpensive essential oils are often synthetic, adulterated, or unethically sourced. We strongly recommend you do your research and read individual label instructions and guidelines to ensure safe use of internalizing essential oils. Cooking with essential oils is fun and opens up a whole new world of possibilities and delights. Flavor your cooking oils, dressings and marinades. Never use too much, sometimes less is more in the kitchen and using less than a drop is required to achieve the right flavor and balance. Do not use for long periods of time as they are super concentrated and can destroy the microbiome of the stomach.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to essential oils! Synergistic blends can be very particular and powerful. Blending is an art and blending for therapeutic processes is entirely different than blending for perfume (characterized by base, middle, top notes). But more about this on another blog!
Essential oils are stored in a dark, airtight glass bottles. Heat, oxygen and light break down the oils and make them less effective.
Thanks for reading my little blog about essential oils! My hope for these blogs are to inspire you!