Several weeks ago, Audra Bassett, my wonderful friend with a lot more know-how about oils that I have, wondered if I might be interested in learning more about essential oils and using them on a more regular basis. Learn more about something natural and healthy? Of course!
She sent me this fabulous book, The Essential Oil Truth - The Facts Without the Hype by Jen O'Sullivan, which I read in about a day or two and then re-read several times after. From there, I started using oils and oil blends daily with my whole family. I am super excited to share what I have learned with YOU!
I am going to be doing a three-part essential oils series. Today is the first part, answering your questions about how and why to use them.
Let's get started:
Question #1 - Why would I use essential oils?
I could give you about a million reasons. The biggest and best is because we are in a bit of a health crisis in our country. Much of that is due to unhealthy lifestyles, scary ingredients in the majority of products sold, and people being handed out quick fixes that mask the problem. Symptoms are our bodies way of telling us there is something wrong. When we try to get rid of them with a quick chemical fix that has a slew of side effects, instead of dealing with what is really wrong with our bodies, it often just gets worse and worse.
Oils are different. They are natural - from plants. They are safe. They are effective. And they smell sooooo good. As a mom of four with a lot of responsibilities, I feel comfortable using oils to help myself, my hubby and my children stay healthy.
Question #2 - What are essential oils? Are they safe?
An essential oil is a liquid that is generally distilled from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant. Essential oils are the life-force of the plant, much like our blood. They are highly concentrated, and you only need a little to go a long way. They have been used for centuries, not just for their beautiful natural scent, but for their antibacterial healing properties as well. I love using them for anything from headaches to stomachaches, from an air purifier to hand sanitizer.
They are safe when used properly for people and animals. I recommend that you always start out with a very small amount along with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil. Apply a bit to your skin and see how your body reacts. Always do your own research and be responsible. I do not personally ingest essential oils, but if you do, MAKE SURE you use only the very best quality and be very informed about that choice.
Basically, essential oils are natural and very very safe, especially when compared to the alternatives - pharmaceuticals, prescription drugs, etc. But again, I cannot stress this enough - make sure you use only the very best quality.
Questions #3 - How do you use essential oils safely?
See my note on how to use them safely in the above question. But to expand on that, let me share with you the ways I use them. Here is a different post I wrote sharing how I use essential oils.
Oils can be used in three different methods: topically, aromatically, and internally.
Topically - This is applying the oil onto our skin. Oils can either be applied undiluted (neat), or with a carrier oil (which slows absorption). Always follow the directions on the label, and when in doubt, dilute. If any burning occurs or you get it in your eyes, never try to was it away with water. Oil and water don’t mix! “Wash” it off by adding more carrier oil.
Aromatherapy - This is inhalation of the oils. You can use a diffuser (pictured below), place your head over a steaming bowl of water with a few drops added, or directly inhale from your hands or the bottle. When doing so, you trigger aromareceptors, triggering chemical responses in the body.
Internally - This is through direct absorption of the digestive tract. Like I said before, I personally choose not to do this one. I may try it once in a great while, but have not decided to do that at the present time. Surely do NOT ingest any oil that does not say that it can be used as a dietary supplement right on the label. Again, do your own research and make informed decisions. Make sure you know where your oils are grown and how they are handled all the way to the bottle.
Question #4 - Which brand is the best? Why?
I have tried out many brands and you have probably seen me talk about them on my blog throughout the past 7 years. There is one company that I have used throughout my entire time using essential oils - Young Living. They were my first love, and after looking very, very closely at the differences between essential oil companies, I am now ready to say they are my only love.
Let me share with you why.
Did you know that you only need 5% pure essential oil in a bottle to claim it is 100% pure? Unfortunately, that is totally true. So while the labels on that grocery store brand may spout they are "100% pure" it is not what you are expecting in that bottle. Typically it's a little essential oil, and up to 95% additives, fillers, and synthetics - things that will lower the price and quality and result in you needing to use more, or worse, having a reaction to the "other 95%" they added to that bottle. You may notice the other labels say "for inhalation or aromatherapy use only". This means you shouldn't even put those brands on your skin. Some other brands will smell good and work wonders for your needs, but personally, I choose the brand that goes beyond smelling good, and has been tested for use beyond aromatherapy.
Just like I choose high-quality, organic nourishing foods for my body, I want to choose high-quality, organic nourishing oils for my body. I like to know as much about things that go on, in or around my body as I possibly can. My tips for you when choosing essential oils are:
- know where the company grows their crops
- know what they use to fertilize and treat the crops
- know their harvest process
- know their distillation process
- know EXACTLY what they are putting in that bottle
When I use Young Living, I know I am getting the purest essential oil in that bottle, nothing more. No additives, no synthetics, just pure, essential oil goodness. In fact, they have a Seed to Seal Guarantee that is unmatched by any competitor. That is why they work.
P.S. Did you know you can even go to Young Living's farms and help plant, harvest and distill crops? Yup, you can watch and be a part of the ENTIRE process. I think that just rocks!
Not all brands are created equal, and it is up to individuals to determine what is best for their family based on the research they are aware of. Do your research, no matter which oils you choose, make sure you know exactly what is in that bottle and be confident in using it on yourself and your family.
Let me know if I can answer more of your questions or guide you in your essential oil journey. I am here to help! If you would like to be added to a free, educational resource full of people sharing how they use oils, ask to join the Apothecary Society. It is one of my favorite places to go to get ideas about how others are using their oils and what they love about them. Everyone is so positive and helpful. I just love it! (And no, nobody will be trying to sell you anything!) You can tell them that I (Cara Nitz) sent you over.
Next post, I will be talking about how oils have helped me when I am suffering from stress and headaches. Stay tuned...