4 easy ways to use essential oils safely
Some people are intimidated by the idea of using essential oils at home because they are, after all, pretty potent plant-based medicine - don't you need a degree or something? No! If you take basic precautions in using them, they can be life-changing! We’ve already discussed the basics of how to get started using essential oils for better health, in a previous post. Essential oils make a great alternative to harsh chemical additives, whether you’re using peppermint EO in a spray bottle to kill ants or diffusing lavender as a sleep aid or rubbing well-diluted frankincense EO on the soles of your baby's feet to give him a better rest. Not sure what way to try first? Read on.
4 basic ways to use essential oils
1. Aromatically (breathing them in) 2. Topically (on your skin) 3. Internally (in your body) 4. Externally (around the home)
Let's break down these uses further. Then all you have to do is decide which sound good, and begin experimenting! Please note that I am not a certified expert in essential oils; you don't have to be, in order to take advantage of many of their benefits - ordinary people have been doing it or centuries. As always, do your own research to find out what works best, and if you have health concerns, consult your doctor or a natural practitioner first.
1. Aromatically – Essential oil fragrances are absorbed into the bloodstream through inhalation in tiny amounts (vapour droplets). Why use this method? Because scent can affect thoughts, memories and emotions, which in turn can:
• Change your mood for the better • Assist the respiratory system and clear sinuses • Relieve tension and stress • Increase indoor air quality • Stimulate our immune response
Use this method if you are a beginner. But, other than sticking your nose in a bottle, how do you get the goodness out of essential oils with aromatic applications? There are many common ways, including diffusing, spraying, or making a steam tent by placing a few drops of EO in a pot of very hot water and placing a towel over your head to create a tent while you breathe in the steam (eucalyptus EO is great for this when you have a cold). Of course, you can also use essential oils in the bathtub via scented bath salts or bath bombs, or in the shower, using a shower bomb that works with the steam of your shower to release aromatherapy. Pay attention to how you feel when you inhale the oils. If you begin to develop a slight headache or feel like the aroma is too strong, you may simply have used too much. Next time, use less or try a different oil, or a different method for breathing it in.
You can look online for EO blends to diffuse, or spray a classic like lavender pillow spray for relaxation.
2. Topically - Many Essential Oils can be used topically, but you do need to exercise caution, even if you are just dabbing on a couple of drops as perfume! Read safety labels and always dilute when necessary, especially if you have sensitive skin. The other important thing is to only use one type of oil at a time so if you do have a reaction, you can pinpoint the cause. When you do graduate to EO blends, use blends that a reputable company has already created – they are sure to have been tested to ensure the oils work safely together on the skin. Don’t worry about over-diluting; your EO will still work and may even absorb better with the aid of a carrier oil like coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil. You will always want to dilute when using essential oils on children or if you are pregnant; some practitioners believe you should not use EO at all if you are pregnant or nursing, so do your research first and don't discount your informed intuition.
Be careful when using citrus oils topically as they can cause photosensitivity (sensitivity to the sun).
An essential oil massage is great for relaxation, relieving aches and pains, stimulating the lymphatic system and much more, but how else can use EO topically? If you know reflexology or are lucky enough to have a practitioner who does, essential oils are great on the reflex points and energy centres of the body. You can also use them on a hot or cold towel, or, of course, add them to salts for a relaxing bath, or add them to other skin care products from natural deodorants to creams and lotions.
3. Internally - Not all essential oils can be used internally, and you might not want to try this method if you are worried about it, but if you know your EO, go for it! Research natural remedies using essential oils, and test them out slowly on whatever ails you. Since a single drop of Peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 25 cups of brewed peppermint herbal tea, restraint is a good thing as breaking down such potent substances can be hard on your liver. If you do want to try using EO internally, remember to…
-Wait at least 15 minutes between ingesting each drop of oil to allow your body time to process it - Do not consume more than 20 drops of EO per day -‘Hot’ oils like oregano should be consumed with especial caution -Consume oils on a full stomach and/or with a protective edible carrier oil, like coconut or olive, or inside a spoon of honey -Use in cooking to naturally dissipate some of the potency
4. Externally - There are a lot of ways to use EO in your home. You don’t need to worry as much about the safety element since you won’t be ingesting these essential oils or putting them directly on your skin, so you can experiment more freely. Start with putting a liquid hand soap with essential oils on your kitchen and bathroom counters - instead of a cloying flowery scent that kind of messes with you when you're doing food prep, you'll get a great natural clean and pleasantly fresh scent.
• Google 'green cleaning recipes' and choose those that include the essential oils you already have on hand • Instead of scary scent beads, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the washing machine at the beginning of a load • Insect repellent essential oils like citronella can be dripped sparingly onto candles prior to burning, or look for them in products like our mosquito-and-tick-repellent dog shampoo bar and all natural bug-off stick for kids.
Ready to use EO? GO!
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