During this time of year, scents make the season amazing, but essential oils do more than smell good; they provide emotional and physical health.
It’s that sweet feeling that rolls over and through you when you catch a hint of roses on the breeze or when you discover the invigorating, clean scent of citrus left on your fingertips after peeling an orange. These aromas seem to appeal as much to our psyche as to our physical sense of smell, often pulling up vivid memories or prompting a sigh of contentment.
Essential oils are the natural, aromatic, volatile liquids found in the seeds, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. While these oils are fragrant, whether powerful, subtle, or intoxicating, they do much more than simply smell good. Essential oils have a long, illustrious history of use in aromatherapy, massage therapy, emotional health, personal care, nutritional supplements, and hygiene throughout ancient times and into the present.
Essential oils are mentioned more than 200 times in the Bible. Ancient Egyptians used them extensively in medical practices, beauty treatments, food preparation, and even during religious ceremonies. The ancient Greeks and Romans used natural oils to promote health and personal hygiene. Aromatic herbs were used by the ancient Chinese, Indian, and Persian civilizations. For many of these great nations, empires, and people, essential oils were as valuable as gold. The use of essential oils even survived into the Dark Ages as medicine and hygiene products. They helped protect many during the Black Plague.
Why Use Them
Plants use essential oils to entice beneficial insects or to defend themselves against pests, mold, environmental conditions, and disease. They are vital for the plant to grow, live, evolve, and adapt. These same qualities of defense and well-being can readily be utilized by humans too. The use of essential oil adds natural fragrance to life, but more importantly bestows valuable therapeutic properties.
These clean oils, free of the fatty acids and lipids found in other oils, are easily absorbed through the skin where they can go to work, each one useful in myriad aromatic and therapeutic ways. They can help with dandruff, acne, muscle pain, sleeping, motion sickness, raising energy levels, and much more. Combining these aromatic and therapeutic qualities or blending different oils results in endless possibilities. There are also many ways to experience their benefits in your life.
Add 2 to 4 drops to a tissue and set them on a table or desk near you to determine what you like and find out which ones you might be overly sensitive to. Also do some research on any new essential oil you want to start using. Some can cause skin irritation or sun sensitivities and many should never be ingested.
Boil water and then pour it into a bowl. Add 5 to 7 drops of your favorite essential oil. Inhale the steam to ease the pain and congestion of colds, coughs, and flu, or let the steam cleanse and refresh your face.
Mix 3 to 5 drops in a moistened clay mask and apply it as usual. Make sure you use an essential oil that you know doesn’t irritate you.
Add 5 to 10 drops to a bath. That’s all you need, but you can combine this with Epson salt or baking soda for extra benefits. There are oils for any type of bath you need: cleansing, energetic, relaxing, cathartic, or healing.
Apply 2 to 3 drops to a moist washcloth and rub this briskly over your skin before, during, or immediately after a shower.
Add 4 to 7 drops to a bowl of warm or cold water, depending on the need or injury. Moisten a wash cloth or small towel in the bowl and apply until it to the head or injury until it reaches room temperature and then repeat.
Fill a small spray bottle with clean water. Nebulizers work best, but aren’t necessary. Add 8 to 10 drops of essential oils and shake well before spritzing in the air. Keep the bottle in a cool dark area and shake well before spraying every time. Glass bottles work better for storage as many essential oils can break down plastics.
Add a teaspoon of lemon, eucalyptus, or lavender oil to laundry to cut bad odor or add a couple drops to a washcloth in the dryer for a fresh dryer scent.
Several drops can be added to water or vinegar to make a potent cleanser that works without harsh chemicals. Lemon, pine, grapefruit, rosemary, lavender, and tea tree, or a combination of them, are good choices for cleansers. A couple drops of lemon oil will help with greasy dishes or soap scum too.
Jacuzzis and Hot Tubs
Add 6 to 10 drops to the water, depending on size of Jacuzzi or hot tub. Avoid using oils that are known to be more irritating.
Essential oils should not be applied directly to skin without being diluted. For massage, dilute 10 drops in one ounce of carrier oil. There are many carrier oils from almond to coconut to grape oil. Use what you like and what works best for your body.
Many essential oils deter pests, like mosquitos. Add 2 to 4 drops of citronella, lemongrass, lavender, or eucalyptus oil to a tissue or cotton ball and set next to windows, doors, or on the table during a picnic. You can also use the spray bottle technique to spritz down clothes when hiking or camping.
Add essential oils to your favorite shampoos, creams, and lotions for extra benefits. Tea tree is great for dandruff and skin blemishes. Rosemary stimulates hair growth. Blend other oils for different beneficial effects. There are many ways to use them and a million reasons. The remedies credited to the use of essential oils deserve serious attention and study.
So, next time you pull out a stick of spearmint gum to freshen your breath, or put limes down the garbage disposal to clean and deodorize, remember it’s those essential oils that you depend on regularly that are doing the work. They aren’t something exotic or foreign. They’re all around us, in many products that we take for granted. We need only learn how to fully employ the power contained in these natural oils.