Essential oils are the steady helpers of nature – used in ancient medicine for centuries, their popularity and function has not changed much since then, and for good reason! All-natural and with a wide variety of uses, we explore how oils can help you achieve balance and create emotional and physical harmony.
Essential Oils – How to Use Them
Essential oils are compounds taken from plants, either by pressing or through distillation. Oils taken from the plant through a chemical process are not considered to be true essential oils and generally, won’t be marketed as such. So overall, essential oils are quite a safe choice if you want to explore a natural means to healing that targets mind, body and soul.
Depending on the type of plant, effects can vary wildly, and we have listed some of our favourite oils below to give you a glimpse of the many applications of essential oils. Effects are not only determined by the type of oil, but also by how you use it. Generally, there are 3 ways of using essential oils, depending on what you want to achieve:
- Topical application, where the essential oil is put directly on the skin or hair.
- Inhalation, where the oil is turned into a vapour to release the smells.
- Ingestion, where drops of oil are taken orally as part of a health regimen.
Ingestion is by far the most controversial one of these, and we do not recommend that you ingest any essential oils without guidance of an expert. Some essential oils, such as tea tree, are known to be dangerous when taken orally, so make sure that you keep them away from your infants.
To inhale the aromas of essential oils, think about getting yourself a candle diffuser, which heats up the oil and allows it to evaporate, or a reed diffuser, which pulls the essential oil blend up a thin ‘reed’, giving a continuous smell to a room. For topical application, make sure that you check out what is the best way to do it for the oil of your choice: some strong oils need to be diluted in a natural ‘carrier oil’ – like jojoba or castor oil – before they can be safely applied on the skin.
A Little Primer on Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the big umbrella under which most essential oil use resides. There are five main categories of Aromatherapy:
Cosmetic: Where essential oils are mainly used to improve skin and hair. The oils applied usually have moisturizing, cleansing, drying or toning properties.
Medical: Here they are used to treat medical ailments such as arthritis, insomnia and respiratory problems
Massage: The oils are used with massage oils such as castor to provide a mix of Benefits, both by absorption in the skin and through inhalation.
Olfactory: They are inhaled to help with de-stressing the body, increasing emotional wellbeing and overall rejuvenation.
Psycho Aromatherapy: Essential oils are used to help balancing negative patterns of the mind, and psycho aromatherapy includes the study of how scents affect your moods and general wellbeing when being diffused in a room
Each of these use a different set of essential oils for different purposes. Some oils are so versatile that one single oil could serve a function in all of the categories.
Our sense of smell is vastly underappreciated, and the effects that certain scents can have on our brain can be nothing short of miraculous! You are probably familiar with an interesting effect of scent: it can give a boost to the production of serotonin, one of our happy hormones. Maybe you remember the last time you smelled an old perfume you used to wear? Or the smell of the flowers outside your childhood home? I imagine it took you straight back to another time. You can tap into this scent-memory gateway by using different essential oils, and influence your mood and general wellbeing.
If you would like on-the-go aromatherapy, remember to apply your essential oil of choice on your pulse points. Your pulse points are the parts of your body where your arteries are closest to the skin. Due to the warmth of these points, the healing properties of the oil can be easily absorbed through the skin while also allowing the scent to waft through the air. You can also make essential oil mixes and use them as perfume.
A Few of our Favourites
Now that we have covered the basics, here’s a few of our favourite essential oils and their different uses:
Lavender: A fan-favourite, this calming oil is antibacterial, anti-fungal and promotes relaxation of the central nervous system. It’s good for anxiety and helps with headaches. Well-known as the sleepy essential oil, just add a drop or two to your palms and inhale deeply. You should be in for a relaxing evening.
Frankincense: This age-old remedy used to be as valuable as gold, due to its powerful healing properties. It is commonly used in candles and natural deodorizers, but recently it has become more popular as an add-on in facial creams where it works as a cell regenerator. It also reportedly helps to combat hypertension and arthritis. It can be very helpful for women especially, as it regulates estrogen levels. One can easily include it in your bedtime routine by adding a few drops on the hands with lavender oil and inhaling it.
Lemon and Citronella: These are super refreshing and are great to add to a bath, as they help detoxify and cleanse body and mind, whilst also increasing circulation. In addition to being mood-enhancers, lemon can boost your immune system, as well as rejuvenate and brighten dull skin. You’ll have to do a patch test to see if your skin is allergic, but if not just add a drop to a natural face mask of yoghurt and honey, and apply for 10 minutes onto cleansed skin.
Citronella on the other hand, is best known as an insect-repellant. Applying a few drops to your moisturizer can help you keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay. It’s also been known to promote healing from infection and help fight fatigue. Just inhale and feel re-energised.
Tea-Tree: Best known for being an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal ‘super-oil’, tea tree can be used in helping with a range of topical ailments. From dandruff and acne, to scarring and oily skin, tea tree oil can help with it all. The usual common mixes for this oil include lemon, eucalyptus and lavender, to fight different problems. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil though, as it is quite a strong one. In a ratio of 1:4, mix it with either castor or jojoba oil and massage it into affected skin.
Do your research and find out what oil works best for you! Essential oils are versatile and can be used as a room-freshener as well as your own personal healing medium. The best part is that essential oils can be used together with other types of medicines, so it can be complementary to any existing health regimen. Make sure to take advantage of this natural gold-mine and all that it can offer you!