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The Ultimate Guide to Essential Oils

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This guide to essential oils will give you all the information that you need to get started! Get ready to learn about all the health benefits that they can help with! 

Essential oils are a hot topic in many natural health circles and beyond. Learn what essential oils are, about their history, and some of their many uses. Many people have heard of essential oils and have no idea what they are. How are they made? What are they used for? Are they really effective? 

Guess what, you aren’t alone in those questions. For every question regarding how to apply essential oils, there is an answer! 

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated liquid containing specific aroma compounds which are the essence of a specific plant. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, which uses a method of separation through boiling and no chemicals. However, they can also be extracted through expression (a method of pressure extraction, often referred to as “cold pressed” as no heat is involved) or solvent extraction.

Essential oils have many different uses and have been successfully used for hundreds of years for their medicinal and soothing properties.

Essential oils are widely used in holistic health circles and are becoming more readily available to the common man or woman. They are used in many medicines purchased over-the-counter and due to their volatile nature, are very effective against the constant mutations of various viruses. There are countless varieties of essential oils available however lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus are among the most commonly known.

Essential oils should be used with caution and can be very dangerous if not taken in the proper dilution or concentration. Many essential oils are toxic in large amounts and proper care should always be exercised when using them medicinally.

How do you use Essential Oils?

Topical – Done by applying a drop of oil or two to your skin (not all drops of essential oil are safe to be done topically so do your research!)

Ingest – Swallowing drops of certain oils can aid in digestion (again, you CANNOT do this with all oils so educate yourself!)

Diffuse – Use a few drops in your diffuser to scent the air in your home (make certain that the ones you choose are safe for this as well!)

Aromatherapy has long since been used to help treat a whole range of physical and mental health conditions, from premenstrual syndrome to anxiety, back pain to memory loss.

From beauty to health, from cleaning products to lotions and everything in between, essential oils can be used in many crafty recipes.  In fact, you can find all of our Recipes Using Essential Oils here.

Buying Essential Oils

As with most foods, there is a huge amount of difference in terms of quality of aromatherapy oils, depending on where the oils are purchased. In 1,001 Home Health Remedies, Browne et al. (2007) recommend buying essential oils through a qualified aromatherapist, who will be able to provide in-depth information on how aromatherapy products should best be used, as well as advice on safety guidelines.

In The Essential Oils Handbook, Harding (2008) highlights that it is always best to purchase quality essential oils for aromatherapy from suppliers who source their products carefully. This is primarily due to the fact that the higher the quality of essential oils, the more effective they tend to be and the less likely it is that any adverse reactions may result.

I use Rocky Mountain Oils for the following reasons:

A tad bit about Rocky Mountain Oils:

Shipping –  All orders within the United States qualify for free economy shipping. Orders have an estimated delivery time of 2-7 business days!  They even have a neat little chart to help you estimate your shipping time if choosing the free shipping option.

Return Policy – Products can be returned for any reason, even if opened, for up to 90 days.  Yes, seriously!  They even send you a shipping label so you don’t have to pay to return the product.  No more worries about “what if it doesn’t work or I am allergic” simply return it!

Safe and Healthy – RMO provides GC/MS (Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry) test results from a verified third party, independent lab for each one of their essential oil products. In fact, on the bottom of your bottle is a batch number.  You can go to their site and enter your number.  This will give you the results of your bottle’s testing!

Storing Essential Oils

Once high-quality oils have been purchased, the next issue is how to go about correctly storing these essential oils. Oils will last longer when stored in cooler conditions; most oils last around a year at room temperature and two years when kept in the fridge, while citrus oils and tea tree oils usually last half as long.

Practical information on storing essential oils is provided by Harding (2008), to include the following:

* Keep aromatherapy oils in dark-glass bottles.
* Store away from sunlight – UV rays make essential oils degrade.
* Place refrigerated oils in a tightly closed box to prevent affecting food.
* Buy oils in screw-cap bottles.
* Ensure caps screwed tight in storage to prevent oxidization.
* After opening bottle, write shelf-life date on the bottle from this point.
* Use out-of-date oils as a room fragrance.

As highlighted above, in order for oils to be effective in treating both physical and mental health conditions such as premenstrual syndrome, memory loss, anxiety, and muscle cramps, essential oils must be purchased from suppliers who source oils carefully. Storage of essential oils to make them last longer involves using dark-glass, screw-cap bottles placed in a tightly closed box in the refrigerator.

Oils and Their Uses:

There are countless varieties of essential oils, but here is a look at some of the most popular and readily-available scents.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is extracted through the flowers of the lavender plant and has many uses. It is known to be a relaxant, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-fungal, and an analgesic compound. Commonly used to soothe burns, help with various skin conditions such as acne and eczema, and aid in relaxation and mood stabilization.

Lavender oil is used in many fragrances for its relaxing qualities and mixes well with many other essential oils. It can be diffused in the air through evaporation, steam, or cool mist or can be used topically through a carrier oil for skin conditions or to help with headaches. Lavender is known as the universal oil due to its broad spectrum of uses and is readily available at most health food stores or through online oil suppliers.

Read more about Lavender Essential Oil Soap here! 

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil is described as one of the basic necessities for a “holistic first aid kit.” Its most popular use is to aid digestion; however, it is also known to act as a decongestant and an analgesic. Peppermint can be used to help cure nausea and vomiting, clear the sinuses, and helps soothe sore muscles and joint pain. It is also a mental stimulant that helps clear the brain and restore concentration.

Peppermint essential oil can be either cooling or warming depending on the dilution used; however, it is most commonly used together with a carrier oil or lotion to reduce irritation to the skin.

Read all about how to make Invigorating Peppermint Soap Recipe Using Essential Oils here!

The above two oils are recommended by me as part of my free Essential Oils for Beginners Guide.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, an antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral substance that is used in many different medicines we buy today. Obtained from the fresh leaves of the tall evergreen eucalyptus tree, the primary supplier of the oil is from Australia.

Eucalyptus is very effective in treating many colds and respiratory infections due to its antiviral, anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. It can be massaged on to the skin to aid in muscle and joint pain and is commonly used among those with arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory nature. It is commonly used in many types of mouthwash because of its germicidal properties and has the ability to help stave off cavities and plaque build-up. As a room-freshener, eucalyptus helps kill germs as well as roaming viruses thus eliminating unwelcome scents while keeping the room environment clean.

Eucalyptus oil can be diffused or used topically in a carrier oil (or by itself depending on its concentration). For congestion, a drop on top of a pillow can often provide effective relief throughout the night. It can be purchased through a local health food store or online at various websites such as Rocky Mountain Oils.

More Essential Oils to Consider

Benefits of Grapefruit Oil

The Types of Chamomile Oils

Benefits of Clary Sage Oil

Be sure to also check out our Recipes Using Essential Oils for health and wellness recipes.

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