Essential oils can offer a wide range of health benefits that can include promoting a healthy sleep pattern, improved mental focus, and the reduction of stress and anxiety.
How to use essential oils can depend on the type of oil itself and its intended use. All of the application methods for the most popular essential oils are perfectly safe if used correctly. These application methods include internal, topical, and aromatic. Plus, in many cases, you can use a number of application methods for the same type of oil. In time, you can even learn how to mix essential oils and create your own unique scents.
Using Essential Oils
There are many types of essential oils ranging from herbs and spices to florals and fruit extracts. Each type of oil offers unique properties that can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. Here is a list of some of the most popular essential oils and the common benefits and uses.
- Lavender: Lavender promotes a relaxed and calm feeling and can be used in lotions, sprays, baths, and more.
- Peppermint: Peppermint is very cooling and refreshing and can invigorate you with its strong minty aroma.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree is a popular oil that’s known for its healing abilities and antibacterial properties.
- Spearmint: Spearmint is a cooling and refreshing essential oil that can be used to soften and refresh the skin when it’s added to bathwater or lotion.
- Lemon: Lemon essential oil is extracted from the skin of lemons and it carries the refreshing citrus smell that can instantly improve your mood. It also contains both antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that make it useful for treating respiratory infections, skin infections, and it can be used to disinfect surfaces. Lemon oil is also both calming and stimulating, so you can use it to treat stress or certain sleep disorders.
- Rosemary: Rosemary oil is extracted from the leaves of the culinary herb. This oil can be used for memory enhancement, improving blood circulation, balancing hormones, and it also has an impressive antioxidant profile. Many people swear by rosemary’s pain reduction abilities especially when it comes to treating neuropathy.
- Sweet orange: Sweet orange essential oil is obtained using the cold press extraction method. This highly aromatic oil is often used to treat chronic fatigue and depression. Like other types of citrus oils, it features antiseptic properties that can help to heal dental problems, skin infections, and minor fungal infections. The oil can also be used to improve digestion and other types of stomach problems.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil is distilled from the bark and leaves of the eucalyptus tree. This oil features a very strong smell and is often used to treat serious conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and chest infections. This oil should be used in small quantities and always with a carrier oil when applying directly to the skin.
Extraction Methods for Essential Oils
Cold pressed essential oils use plant materials that can easily release their aromatic components. This older method was commonly used to extract citrus oils from their fruit skin. The manual extraction process involved pressing the fruit with a sponge which would eventually absorb the oils. These sponges were then wrung out to obtain the oil. This type of essential oil is light colored and offers a fresh smell. Because the raw materials were not subjected to intense temperatures the oil retains excellent aroma content.
Another process is steam distilled essential oils. With this process, steam passes through raw materials in a closed container. The oils get vaporized, rising up with the steam and passing through a vent into a type of condensation chamber. Both the water vapor and aromatic vapor turns into liquid but forms separate layers.
Essential oils that are extracted from bark, roots, flowers, or leaves are commonly steam distilled. This type of essential oil is considered the next best option to the cold pressed variety.
A chemical process called solvent extraction involves using a solvent to bind the volatile oils in the raw material. The next step is separating the solvent from the mixture to obtain the end product which is referred to as absolute. Traditionally, alcohol has been used as the solvent because of its easy availability and the fact that it evaporates easily.
Modern processes now use a wide range of organic compounds such as hexane.
Our sense of smell can be used as a very powerful tool that can cause emotional, mental, and physiologic responses in the body. The body can use these smell receptors to absorb essential oils. This application method offers a type of direct link to the body’s limbic system, which is a portion of the brain that supports memory, smell, behavior, and emotion, via the olfactory nerve. Many experts believe that this method of application is very powerful.
The type of oil you use will depend on the type of bodily response you’re hoping for. Certain oils can have a calming effect on the mind and body, while others are said to offer a type of almost euphoric effect. An added benefit of this style of application is the fact that you don’t have to use a diffuser, although if you do decide to use one, experts recommend water or cold air diffusers.
If you decide not to use a diffuser, you can mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with two cups of water and pour it into a spray bottle and mist each room. Not only will you enjoy the relaxing benefits of the oil, but it will also freshen up your home.
Others recommend adding a teaspoon of essential oil to a load of laundry, or pouring a few drops onto a dryer sheet and placing it in the air vents in your home or even your vehicle. The possibilities are endless.
Applying essential oils topically also allows you to enjoy the same health benefits. These oils are actually lipid soluble, which means that they can easily penetrate the skin, and quickly. Once the oils are absorbed, they’ll stay in the applied area.
Even though these oils are quickly absorbed by the skin, there are also some things you can try to increase the absorption speed and power.
Try gently massing the area in order to increase circulation to the application site. This will also allow the oils to be distributed throughout the entire body.
A carrier oil can be used to increase absorption power especially when it comes to skin that’s dry, because it works to deeply penetrate the skin, moving to the middle layer where it will evaporate quickly. Most healthcare professionals recommend always using a carrier oil because it can reduce skin irritation when it comes to certain types of essential oils that are known to cause an unwanted reaction simply because they’re very powerful. Oils such as tea tree oil should always be used with a carrier oil to reduce the chances of redness and irritation.
You can use olive oil, coconut oil, or even almond oil as carrier oils and mix in a few drops of your favorite essential oil into eight ounces of the carrier oil.
To get the most benefits out of topical essential oil therapy, try placing the oil on the bottoms of your feet, or on your legs, arms, abs, chest, temples, neck, and forehead.
If you don’t want to apply the oils directly to your skin you can also add a few drops to your bath, or make your own warm compress by soaking a washcloth in a mixture of warm water and a few drops of essential oil.
Dermatologists recommend adding a few drops of tea tree oil to lotion in the winter for people who suffer from eczema or severely dry skin.
Dermatologists also recommend not using essential oils on injured, broken, or damaged skin in order to prevent irritation. Additionally, essential oils should not be placed around the eyes or mouth.
There are certain types of essential oils that can be used as dietary supplements. Did you know that when you add a dash of cinnamon in your coffee or fresh basil to your favorite pasta dish that you’re actually consuming essential oil compounds?
These oils offer a number of health benefits in addition to their aroma and flavoring properties. When they’re in their concentrated form, these oils can be used in your diet in order to offer more targeted health benefits.
Additionally, internal use is very effective and safe. When they’re ingested, they will directly enter the bloodstream through the intestinal tract where they’re then transported throughout the body. Since they’re lipid soluble, they can easily be transported to all the major organs in the body.
All essential oils have a complex composition, consisting of unique sets of biochemical properties that will react with the organs and tissues in the body in very different ways.
Proper dosing can be very important. You can use essential oils in recipes for baking or cooking to replace dried or fresh spices and herbs. Just keep in mind that essential oils are very potent, especially compared to dried herbs, so you’ll want to begin using a small amount. Essential oils can also be added to drinks as well, including coffee, tea, smoothies, protein shakes, juice, and water.
As we’ve mentioned, essential oils can be used in many ways through a variety of methods.
Steaming: For this method, just boil two to four cups of water. Pour the water into a large bowl and add four to six drops of your favorite essential oil. Place your face about ten to twelve inches from the bowl and place a towel over your head. Now, slowly inhale the steam. You can use a relaxing or energizing oil to make this method more useful. If you experience irritation reduce the amount of essential oil used.
Candles: Essential oils will easily evaporate at normal temperatures, breaking down quickly when they’re exposed to heat. Because of this, we don’t recommend using candle burning to diffuse them. Doing so results in breaking down the important health benefits of the oils.
Electronic diffuser: Essential oils are highly flammable, which is why most users feel that electronic diffusers are a much more versatile and safer option. An electronic diffuser can be plugged in anywhere and you won’t have to closely monitor it during use.
Massage: As you know by now, these oils are too potent and strong to use by themselves, which is why you must mix them with a carrier oil for a massage. Add eight to ten drops of essential oil to eight ounces of carrier oil. Because the oil will quickly absorb into the skin you’ll experience the benefits almost instantly.
Anise Essential Oil
This is a licorice-flavored oil that’s commonly used internally. In higher dosages, it can be used as a sedative to treat anxiety, migraines, or chronic headaches. It’s most commonly used in desserts and teas.
This type of essential oil contains antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, aperient, and antioxidant properties.
For thousands of years, this essential oil has been used as a flavoring agent and spice in beverages and foods in different parts of the world. It’s also commonly used to aid in digestion and freshen breath.
Since this oil is said to have a sedative effect, it’s commonly used to treat anxiety. It’s believed that anise oil can work to slow down the body’s nervous response if it’s administered in large doses.
Anise essential oil can also be used to provide relief for people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. The oil works by stimulating blood circulation, working to reduce pain in the applied areas.
This oil also contains antiseptic properties which can protect superficial wounds from infection. It’s also said to speed up the healing process.
Anise oils can aid in digestion. In India, it’s commonly added to food for this purpose. To use, add three drops of anise oil to six ounces of warm water and drink after a meal.
It can also relieve acute chest pain, flatulence, and indigestion.
People who are suffering from the flu, a cold, or a chronic cough can experience relief because of the oil’s decongestant and expectorant properties. The oil can work to loosen phlegm and mucus in the respiratory tract and ease difficulty breathing.
Just like with any type of essential oil, anise can cause an allergic response in some people. Individuals who suffer from a serious type of skin condition should not use this oil. Anise oil should not be used by people who have allergies to carrots, pollen, or celery. Stop using this oil if you experience vomiting, nausea, skin irritation, rash, or inflammation.
Juniper Essential Oil
Juniper essential oil is commonly used to treat arthritis, muscle aches, fatigue, respiratory infections, and sore throats. It also aids in digestion, helps with insomnia, boosts the immune system, and works to soothe eczema flare-ups.
Studies have shown that this essential oil contains more than eighty-five different constituent compounds including antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and it’s packed with antioxidants. This oil is also commonly using in household cleaning products, fragrance sprays, and aromatherapy blends. It features a woodsy, sweet smell that’s similar to balsamic vinegar.
Juniper oil is a popular homeopathic remedy used to prevent and treat urinary tract infections. It’s also a natural diuretic that can help the body to flush out excess fluids, which, in turn, can work to reduce bloating.
Packed with antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, it’s a popular remedy used to treat minor skin infections and skin irritations. It can also help to prevent or treat acne flare-ups.
To use, take two to three drops and mix it with a carrier oil. The oil can be used as a gentle astringent for sensitive skin and should be applied after the skin has been cleansed.
Did you know juniper oil can naturally stimulate digestive enzymes? This can make it easier for the body to absorb and break down nutrients and fats.
To use for a liver cleanse or as a natural digestive aid, take three drops of juniper oil and add it to your morning protein shake or smoothie. Make sure the oil you’re using is one hundred percent pure.
Juniper oil can also be used by people who are having trouble falling asleep. Studies have shown that the smell of juniper oil can naturally reduce anxiety and stress. Many people swear it’s one of the most effective essential oils to use when dealing with emotional pain, stress, or anxiety because it offers many positive effects on the brain’s relaxation response when it’s inhaled.
Cucumber Essential Oil
This essential oil is packed with plenty of nutritional benefits. It works as a good detoxifying agent for the skin where it can cleanse the pores while combating free radicals. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and rejuvenating benefits.
This essential oil contains cooling and nourishing agents that work to treat a wide range of skin conditions including acne and eczema.
It’s also high in vitamins C and B1. This oil helps to remove bacteria, dirt, and other types of harmful toxins that can clog the pores.
With its cooling nature and anti-inflammatory properties, it quickly works to soothe, dry, irritated and inflamed skin.
With its antioxidant properties, cucumber oil helps to fight free radicals, which if left to run free within the body can cause serious damage to the skin. This oil can help to prevent premature aging while working to keep the skin moisturized.
Did you know that cucumber oil is also good for your hair? Because it contains sulfur and silica, both of which strengthen the hair and promotes hair growth, it can prevent hair loss and encourage the hair’s natural growth process.
We recommend applying a few drops of cucumber oil to your hair before you swim. Doing so can prevent damage to the hair caused by chlorine.
Lavender Essential Oil Uses
Whether you’re trying to nourish sensitive skin or soothe irritated skin, lavender oil contains plenty of soothing properties that can provide immediate relief.
Not only is lavender oil soothing to the skin, but it also smells pretty amazing as well. You can use lavender oil for aromatherapy in an essential oils diffuser adding just a few drops to revitalize your home.
If you suffer from dry, cracked, and irritated skin, you can make your own hand cream using one teaspoon of lavender oil mixed with your favorite moisturizer.
Lavender oil is known for its ability to create a more relaxed atmosphere that can help people who suffer from anxiety or stress. The calming effects of the oil work to create a serene environment that helps you sleep better at night. You can use lavender in a diffuser, or create a spray mixing lavender oil and water. Spray the lavender water on your pillows, sheets, and blankets, or you can spray it on your furniture to freshen up your home.
Honeysuckle Essential Oil
Honeysuckle essential oil is packed with dietary fibers, and vitamins and minerals. It’s commonly used to treat digestive related disorders. Some studies have even shown that honeysuckle can prevent certain types of cancers.
This oil can also have a diuretic effect on the body, which can help people who suffer from severe water retention.
Honeysuckle oil contains high doses of vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, quercetin, and rutin, all of which work together to boost the immune system.
It also possesses certain acids and antioxidants that combat free radicals. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also make this oil the perfect natural treatment for skin irritations and minor infections.
This essential oil is perfect for aromatherapy. The oil’s sweet aromatic smell is also commonly used in lotions, creams, and fragrances.
It can work to treat skin blemishes, sore throats, eczema, and rashes.
You can try adding a few drops of this oil to your regular conditioner or shampoo to eliminate dryness and improve the texture and silkiness of your hair.
Additionally, this oil doesn’t produce any serious side effects. However, we recommend performing a patch test before applying the oil to larger areas of the body.
Cajeput Essential Oil
This essential oil is distilled from the white wood tree, which is related to the tea tree. This is a strong essential oil that’s commonly used in aromatherapy to alleviate respiratory distress. It is also often used in salves and balms.
This oil offers plenty of therapeutic properties, which is what makes it useful in medicinal and aromatherapy applications.
It works as a natural pain reliever, decongestant, insecticide, and as an antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral treatment. For respiratory treatment, naturopaths recommend using this oil two to three times daily.
This essential oil blends well with clove oil, tea tree oil, coconut oil, and eucalyptus oil.
Cajeput oil has a number of uses outside the home. It can be used to extract certain types of chemicals such as cineol, and it’s often used to make pain relieving balms and vapor rubs.
It’s commonly used to treat fungal and bacterial infections in both people and fish.
You’ll often find it in natural, over the counter nasal treatments because it can work to open the sinuses.
Cajeput is usually found in safe insect repellents and can be used in oil and water-based sprays to repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other types of insects.
Essential Oils FAQ
What are hot essential oils?
Hot essential oils can cause a warming or hot sensation when they’re applied directly to the skin. Examples of popular hot essential oils including lemongrass, cloves, oregano, thyme, and cinnamon. Peppermint is another popular hot oil that provides a type of cooling sensation and it’s one that may be too intense for some people.
If you’ve never used a hot essential oil before we recommend performing a patch test before you apply it to a larger area. For a patch test, just use a couple of drops of the preferred oil. Reactions often appear after ten to fifteen minutes of application.
Can essential oils cause skin discomfort?
If you notice redness or irritation stop using the oil and apply a carrier oil to the irritated area. If a rash appears, this can be a sign of detox, which is a process that involves removing impurities and toxins from the body.
What areas of the body should you avoid applying essential oils?
Never apply essential oils to sensitive areas such as the ears, eyes, mucous membranes, or genitals. If you decide to use essential oils in a sensitive area you must significantly dilute it.
How often should essential oils be used?
These oils are very powerful, so start off slow. If used excessively, you can increase the risk of adverse reactions. In most cases, using just one or two drops once daily is a great way to start.
Can essential oils be used while nursing or during pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant or nursing, speak with your doctor prior to use. There isn’t much information available regarding safe use during pregnancy, however, your doctor will be able to recommend an appropriate dosage or an alternative treatment.
Are essential oils safe for children?
Most essential oils are safe for use in children, however, they should be diluted in order to avoid an adverse reaction or skin irritation. Some brands of essential oils that are designed specifically for children will come prediluted.
You’ll find that essential oils can be used to treat a wide range of treatments and conditions. They can be used to boost energy, reduce headaches, or even alleviate certain symptoms of the common cold.
Experts claim that over time, regular use of essential oils can offer many benefits that can have a major impact on both your mind and your body.