Essential Oils are natural, home remedies which can be used for some health problems and ailments. They have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. Their applications range from aromatherapy, household cleaning and personal beauty care. With all of these options, where do you begin?
Healing oils have grown rapidly in popularity, so here is our beginners guide to how you can harness and make the most out of their benefits.
Where do they come from?
Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from plant sources such as the root, bark, flowers and seeds. They can be obtained using a variety of methods, which remove and capture the scented particles. They are considered a complementary therapy which works to improve mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
How to choose essential oils
You need to take into account what kinds of effects you want the essentials oils to have on you if you require to look into any safety aspects of the oil and the budget you are on. Due to some of the extraction methods, you will find some oils are a lot more expensive than others.
To get started, we recommend you choose a couple of oils at the beginning before building your collection. This way you can get used to blending the oils and see what works best for you. Start with a couple of the following:
Lavender: Associated with aiding sleep and encouraging relaxation. Lavender oil is one of the safest and most versatile essential oils available. As well as helping you feel relaxed, it can also aid with pain relief, it has antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties, and you can use it as a decongestant and as an insect repellent.
Tea Tree: Another very popular essential oil. Tea Tree can be utilised as a treatment for colds, flu, cold sores, warts and acne. You may find it in many anti-acne face washes, soaps and creams – but be careful to check your labels, some manufacturers may only add the smallest amount of the essential oil in it, which may not help at all. It’s not believed to be a skin irritant but if you have sensitive skin and you’re looking to apply the oil directly (neat or blended) then try a little test patch first, in case you get a reaction.
Patchouli: This oil has long been used in traditional Asian medicine and is commonly used to treat skin and hair ailments such as dermatitis, eczema, acne, dry skin, dandruff and oily scalps. When employed in small doses the therapeutic oil can lift the spirits, and when used in large doses it can cause a sedative state, so it is also often used to treat depression and anxiety as well.
Eucalyptus: This oil is great to have around during the cold season. It’s antiviral, antibacterial and a decongestant. As well as using the oil to inhale when you have a cold or flu, it works brilliantly to keep insects away from the house in the summer. Burn eucalyptus oil in an aromatherapy burner or diffuser, and the scent should deter any insects which are hovering around.
Chamomile: This oil can be extracted from two different types of chamomile plant, the Roman chamomile and the German chamomile plant. They have antiseptic, antibiotic and disinfectant properties as well as being a beneficial stimulant and antidepressant. The Roman Chamomile is a calming oil, whereas the German chamomile is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
How to blend oils
Almost all essential oils will need mixing with a carrier oil (or base oil), called as such due to their abilities to carry the essential oil into the skin. Common suggestions for a carrier oil will be Almond oil, Apricot Kernel oil, Avocado oil or Jojoba oil.
A typical blend will contain 3% of essential oil (which means three drops of essential oil into each 5ml of base oil). Or if you want a milder dose, for example, if you have sensitive skin, you can create a 1% blend, which consists of 1 drop of essential oil into 5ml of base oil.
If you are mixing oils for children, then you will need to ensure you are only using good quality oils as they can be far more sensitive towards oils and smells than we are. These are suggested guidelines when using aromatherapy with children:
2-5 years – use 1-3 drops in 10ml of carrier oil and continue to use only safe, high quality, high odour oils.
5-12 years – use half the adult dose, and you can start introducing other oils.
12 years + – you can start to use the same treatment as adults.
It is usually advised that you blend pure essentials oils with a carrier oil due to the potency of the oil. However, you may find a few oils which are gentle enough to use directly on the skin. Such as applying lavender oil on a mosquito bite or tea tree oil on a spot, however, proceed with caution and only ever use one drop undiluted to the skin.
How safe are they?
You have nothing to worry about with essential oils, as long as you use them for their sole purpose and follow any specific guidelines. However, as with many things which you can put on your body, essential oils come with a few precautions and these are directed towards people with sensitive skin and ladies who are pregnant. It is advised to consult with your doctor when using oils if you are expecting a baby. Many brands will have guidelines to support their products, and it is vital to always speak with a professional and with the brand if you are unsure.
As with using any new product, you should do a small patch test to a clean area of your skin to see if the oil causes any reactions or irritation. If you have any health concerns, such as high blood pressure, epilepsy or allergies, always check your labels for possible side effects or contradictions. The beautiful thing about essential oils is there are so many options; you should be able to find a safer alternative if one doesn’t agree with you.
The ‘non-beauty’ uses for essential oils
Essential oils are brilliant to use when curing ailments on the skin, but they can be utilised for so much more than beauty issues. Here are just a few of our favourite ways in which essential oils can benefit both you and your home:
- All purpose cleaner – add three drops each of lemon oil and tea tree oil to warm water to create your natural disinfectant.
- Clean burnt pans – if you’ve overdone it on the cooking and the burnt food residue will not budge from the pan, try adding a few drops of lemon oil with boiling water to help remove the left over residue.
- Bathroom Freshener – put a cotton ball soaked in lime or lemon oil behind your toilet as a bathroom freshener.
- Kerb food cravings – inhale peppermint and cinnamon oil to reduce your appetite and balance blood sugar.
- Relief motion sickness – use peppermint, lavender and ginger oil to lessen the feeling of illness when travelling.
- Eliminate mould – add tea tree oil to your diffuser to kill mould and other pathogens.