Introduction to Essential Oils
There is nothing worse than feeling sick, is there? Stuffy nose, sore throat, migraine, even shingles. Very painful! You envisage days of misery ahead… So, it’s no wonder we turn to complementary medicine as an alternative to shoving chemically engineered drugs into our systems all of the time.
The days of alternative medicine are here, and essential oils are a great place to start. Essential oils ignite biological changes to improve our health. They boost immune systems, balance hormones, stabilize blood pressure and even regulate appetite. They can help you to breathe better, stop you itching, soothe period pains and even fight fungal infections. I’ve not even scratched the surface with that list, so it is wonderful you have searched to find out more!
Basically, Essential oils are a liquid extracted from the stems, flowers, leaves or other parts of plants. This liquid can be distilled into pure oil. It is important to note that essential oils are not really oils, but are called oils because they are slippery and are not water soluble. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils because they will evaporate into the air. Most essential oils are clear, however some oils, such as citrus oils, may have a yellow or amber tinge to them. Sometimes, the color of an oil is a good indication of its purity.
Five of the must have essential oils are:
Each essential oil has its own chemical properties that are capable of providing some physical and/or psychological benefit. Just because essential oils have a strong odor, don’t confuse them with fragrance or perfumed oils. Synthetic fragrance oils do not offer the same medicinal or therapeutic benefits as plant-based essential oils. Depending on the application, essential oils can be inhaled in various ways. Diluted oil may be applied to the skin, and depending on the desired effect, may be blended with other ingredients.
The four most common personal uses for essential oils include:
- Massage Therapy
- Natural remedies
Essential Oil Safety
Important things you need to know about essential oils:
- Essential oil molecules are microscopic in size– Because essential oil molecules are so small, they are readily absorbed into the skin which makes them ideal for lotions and other personal care items that are meant to heal, soothe and nourish.
- Most essential oils should not be applied undiluted to your skin– Definitely do not apply them directly on the skin, they need to be diluted first. Various substances may be used to dilute them including carrier oils, butter, alcohol or various natural “real” oils such as olive or jojoba. Failure to dilute essential oils may result in an unforeseen reaction.
- Never use undiluted oil on a child or baby– Children have more delicate skin than adults and are therefore much more sensitive to essential oils than adults. If you intend to use an essential oil recipe on a child make sure you only use half the amount of essential oil recommended in the recipe.
- Never leave essential oils within the reach of children– Essential oils can be hazardous if left unattended in small hands.
- Know what you’re allergic to- Before using essential oils, make sure you are familiar with any allergies you may have; for example, if you are allergic to rosemary or oregano, you may be allergic to their essential oils.
- Essential oils should be stored in dark containers-Direct exposure to sunlight will deteriorate the quality of essential. When oils are introduced to heat, light and air a process known as oxidation begins. This process changes the chemical balance, appearance and often times the odor. The change in the odor is one apparent sign that the oxidation process has begun, along with a change in consistency and or color.
- A simple test to help determine the purity of essential oils- The easiest way to test the purity of many store bought oils is to place a drop of oil in a piece of paper. If the oil quickly evaporates leaving no ring behind, then this is a good indication that the oil is pure. If the oil does not evaporate quickly and/or a ring is left behind, then this is a good indication that the essential oil has been mixed with some sort or “real” oil.
- Most essential oils can be stored for a very long time– If you are wondering if you should purchase an essential oil you rarely use, it might be worth noting that if properly stored, most essential oils will retain their effectiveness for up to ten years.
- Avoid using essential oils when pregnant- Some compounds in many essential oils may behave similarly to hormones due to their molecular structure, so it is recommended that you avoid using essential oils during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
A bottle of essential oil can be diffused, inhaled, applied topically, and massaged (diluted) into the skin.
Do I buy a single essential oil or an essential oil blend?
Many essential oils are available in single bottles, and have specific therapeutic effects and uses, but some of the major companies have blended oils, and label them accordingly: “Sleep Ease Oil”, “Anxiety Ease”, “Aphrodisiac”. If you are new to essential oils, purchasing blended oils may be a good way to start before you understand how the whole process works. Of course there is a lot of information available and AromaHead.com have their own free online course so you can start learning straight away.
Where do I buy essential oils?
Larger and more established companies have had many years to get it right. They do vary in their size of bottles and quality. Those listed here have excellent reputation for purity and high quality:
Young Living Essential Oils
Starwest Botanicals Essential Oils
And you will find most brands these days selling on Amazon.com.