Recently, the topic of essential oils came up on Facebook, when we were discussing how families are preparing for the upcoming sick season. People use essential oils in a lot of different ways, and they do have some pretty amazing uses. I’m no expert, but today I’m going to share with you how I use essential oils!
What Are Essential Oils?
I like it when things smell pretty. Before I got into all this natural stuff, I used to buy Bath and Body Works stuff all the time. I still have a whole box in the garage, actually, since I no longer use it. (You know that most commercial bath products are full of chemicals that can be harmful, right?)
Essential oils are a good solution for making things smell pretty without all those chemicals — although that’s hardly their only use!
EO (essential oils) are oils extracted from plants, typically through non-chemical and non-heat methods, preserving all their awesome natural compounds, which can be healing in addition to smelling nice. There are also fragrance oils out there, which are chemical compounds and not natural, so don’t get confused.
These oils are often used medicinally in a number of different ways – through diffusing (mixing with steam and allowing to circulate in the air), for massage, inhaled through steam, even for cleaning! The oils each contain the concentrated properties of the plants they came from, so they can be antibacterial, antiviral, promote relaxation, clear the sinuses, and lots more. Each essential oil has a dozen or more uses, so it’s impossible to list everything here!
Buying Essential Oils
There’s a huge argument over how to buy essential oils, as I’ve learned. There are several different brands out there, and a couple of them — namely Young Living and Do Terra — claim to be “the absolute best.”
However, there is no standardization in the field. Many of the terms companies use to describe their oils as “top quality” are made up by the company and do not really stand for anything. Some companies claim only their oils are safe for ingestion. Some claim that all the other companies really dilute their oils with chemicals and other junk (I’m sure it happens sometimes).
What I’ve gathered through all of the arguing that I’ve read, and a few words of wisdom from people who’ve researched it and practiced aromatherapy for a long time is this: there is no “best” company. Find essential oils that are guaranteed to be essential oils, not fragrance oils; which are pure; which are “therapeutic grade.” Beyond that, don’t worry about additional guarantees and labels; it’s marketing.
This is important because some companies might charge upwards of $40 an ounce for some oils because they are “such high quality.” And there are some rare oils that are actually worth quite a bit more than this, no matter what company you buy from — like roman chamomile, neroli, or rose (you might find these up to $200 an ounce). Other oils, which are more common (like lavender) can be as cheap as $2 – $3 an ounce, if you buy in quantity. Expect to pay 2 – 3 times as much if you buy only an ounce or less, versus buying a 4 – 32 oz. bottle. Buying a large bottle and splitting it with friends is a great way to go, if you can manage, to keep costs down.
I personally have bought my oils through an online “coop” group, where the leader does just that — buys large bottles cheaply and splits the oils into smaller bottles for the group members. I’ve kept my costs way down, paying $2 – $7 an ounce, depending on the oil I’m getting. I’ve never been disappointed in the quality, either.
What Oils I Have and What I Do with Them
I have many essential oils now! I haven’t actually figured out what to do with all of them yet. But for the ones that I have (many), I’ll share what I use them for, too.
- Clove — Relaxing/pain relief during birth, headaches, anti-bacterial (I’m going to try it out in a diffuser this year)
- Eucalyptus — Cold/flu care (I add it to warm baths, humidifiers, and mix it with coconut oil and spread on feet).
- Rosemary — Cold/flu care.
- Lavender — Relaxation (I add to baths when kids need to relax, or to my coconut oil for the feet when kids are sick and need to sleep). Also good for burns.
- Lemon — Cleaning solutions (add to water, vinegar/water)
- Grapefruit — I add it to my baking soda/water solution for my “no poo” hair method. It’s crucial; no ‘poo doesn’t work for me without it.
- Oregano — Anti-bacterial (have taken a drop internally once or twice; mix into coconut oil for feet)
- Peppermint – Headaches, nausea.
- Orange — Anti-bacterial (will mix with clove in the diffuser)
- Geranium — Anti-bacterial; anti-fungal
- Tea tree oil — Anti-fungal (I make anti-fungal cream with this)
I might have more — but I don’t remember, lol! I do have a lot. I enjoy having a lot of different scents for enjoying as well as all their medicinal properties. Plus, since I have so many, if I need something to help, I probably an essential oil that can do what I need. That’s been really handy at times.
I should note that not all of these are safe for use in pregnancy, so please do research or talk to an herbalist or aromatherapist if you are pregnant. Some encourage menstruation or cause contractions and you don’t want that! I know for sure that clove, for example, isn’t safe during pregnancy because it encourages contractions — but can be very helpful in labor for the same reason!
Do you use essential oils? Which are your favorite and how do you use them?