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Essential Oil Basics

How To Choose and Use Essential Oils

The word aromatherapy is often thought to be about fragrance, like scented candles and potpourri. But it is really about healing through the therapeutic application of plant essential oils, many of which happen to smell very nice. Essential oils enter the body in three ways— topically applied to the skin, inhaled, or ingested. Knowing which essential oils work best on your health condition, and using them properly, is the key to getting good results.

Essential Oils and Your Skin

Applied topically, essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin, and since they are very concentrated, as a rule, they should be diluted in a carrier substance.

There are many options.

* Carrier oils include: sweet almond oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, sesame oil, and olive oil-- all good choices.
* Unscented creams, lotions and Shea butter can also be used, as well as rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, vinegar, Aloe Vera gel, and even water.
* For a home spa, essential oils can be mixed with various types of clays and salts for facial treatments, body scrubs and baths.

Topical applications include:
Massage
Compress
Facial, (mask and steam)
Hair and Scalp
Neat (no dilution)
Oral (teeth and gums)

How much to use? Depending on the choice of essential oil and the skin sensitivity of the person receiving treatment, 1-20 drops of essential oil can be added to an ounce, about 2 tablespoons, of a base carrier.

Mild essential oils can be applied neat, meaning they may not need diluting before applying directly on the skin-- if used by the drop. They can help with healing localized skin problems—or used as a perfume on pulse points or the chakras. Lavender oil benefits skin care in various ways including burns, scars, cuts, and sunburn. It stimulates growth of new skin, by cleansing and detoxifying. Use Helichrysum for joint pain or on a bruise or a bleeding cut, or Tea Tree on acne, insect bites, and nail fungus. Other mild essential oils include: Geranium, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Neroli, Rose, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang.

Some essential oils are quite strong and will have a burning or tingling sensation if applied undiluted. As a general rule, peppermint, cinnamon, clove and others like them should be mixed in a low dilution of approximately 1- 2% or 5-20 drops per ounce of the carrier you choose. Anyone can have a skin reaction to almost anything, including natural botanicals. So it is a good idea to always to pre-test a small patch of skin inside the elbow or on the hand or foot.

Mild essential oils that heal the skin
Carrot seed
Chamomile, Roman & German Frankincense Geranium, Rose
Helichrysum, italicum
Jasmine
Lavender
Neroli
Palmrosa
Patchouli
Rose
Tea Tree
Ylang Ylang

Dilute these essential oils to avoid skin irritation

Black Pepper
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Clove
Eucalyptus
Ginger
Lemongrass
Melissa
Oregano
Peppermint

Inhaling Essential Oils
Breathing in the vapors of essential oils also can bring many benefits, and using them is easy.
Methods for inhaling essential oils include:
* Adding a few drops on a tissue or cotton pad
* Inhaling straight from the bottle
* Water spraying and misting
* Micro diffusion
* Humidifier
* Steam bowl
* Massage, shower and baths

Therapeutic benefits of inhalation:
Jasmine, orange, and geranium to uplift our moods
Rosemary, eucalyptus, eases nasal and lung congestion
Peppermint or ginger aids digestion and dispels gas and bloating
Oils that are mental or physiological stimulants: rosemary basil, lemon
Oils that are sedatives: chamomile, lavender, neroli
Diffusing eucalyptus or lemon neutralizes airborne germs in a room

Essential Oil Bioactivity
Essential oils are bioactive, which means that the molecules interact with the body’s physiological systems. These plant molecules mirror our own neurotransmitters and hormones and will trigger therapeutic effects on one or more of these systems: Muscle System, Circulatory System, Digestive, Respiratory, Urinary, Reproductive, Integumentary (skin), Endocrine, Immune, Skeletal and Nervous systems. For maintenance of vital functions, compounds like limonene, found in citrus and other oils can influence the enzymatic action producing a broad spectrum of effects.

Here are some common examples of the multi-target effects:
Lavender is excellent for skin care, can help to relieve muscle spasms and cramps, joint pain, aids in respiratory by easing breathing, and is excellent for nervous tension, headaches and depression.
Peppermint can bring relief to the digestive system from gas and indigestion. And it can also relieve sore muscles, freshen the breath, open congested sinuses, soothe an upset stomach, protect from insect bites and reduce headaches and nervous tension all at the same time.

Ingesting Essential Oils
The natural compounds that make up essential oils can produce many desirable therapeutic effects when swallowed. Some essential oils are anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, while others are stimulating or sedating, or they can be used as tonics for the nerves and digestion. One word of advice: it is important to use only organic, wild-crafted essential oils and avoid oils that may contain pesticide residues or have been adulterated with synthetic compounds.

Topical application is the way for the oils to enter the bloodstream through the layers of skin tissues. Ingested oils are absorbed more rapidly within the body, which produces its therapeutic effects after they are metabolized and eliminated by the liver. However, ingesting an essential oil is only desirable for the effects of certain therapeutic conditions, and of course, upon following safety guidelines.

How To Ingest

Some simple ways to ingest essential oils are using a drop or two in a glass of water, a gelatin capsule, or in a teaspoon of honey. To ward off the flu or after a night of heavy drinking, for example, add a drop or two of lemon oil in a glass of water or teaspoon of honey to promote liver detoxification.

There are many oils that are suitable for ingesting; citrus oils like lemon, orange, or lime, and essential oils from herbs like thyme and basil spice oils like cinnamon bark, cardamom, and ginger, as well as oils like frankincense, myrrh, tea tree and lavender can be effective.

The success in using essential oils effectively is determined by the quality of the oil, the dosage and the method of application. If you are a novice, before ingesting an essential oil, please feel free to contact me . Natural remedies cannot take the place of serious medical treatment, so consult your doctor if you have questions prior to beginning supportive treatment with essential oils.


The information contained in this article is meant to serve as a general guide to introduce some of the concepts regarding the use of essential oils. Becoming an expert is not required to use and receive the benefits of aromatherapy. However, as we begin to look for a deeper understanding, it involves various fields of scientific knowledge, including biology, biochemistry, evolutionary and cellular biology, herbal medicine, pharmacology, physiology, organic farming and distillation.