Essential oils have been used throughout history by many cultures for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. With growing scientific validation and expanding markets for natural approaches to healing and wellness, interest in the use of essential oils is on the rise. Essential oils are natural compounds found in seeds, bark, stems, roots, and flowers of plants. Their constituents include naturally occurring chemical structures that offer a variety of favorable effects including anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, cancer cell inhibitors, antiseptic, sedative, mood enhancing, antispasmodic, and fever-reducing, just to name a few. Known for their aromatic properties, essential oils can be applied in three different methods: aromatically diffused, applied topically to the skin or taken internally in supplements, food or beverages. They are very popular fragrances in many natural body care products and soaps.
Just as our food can be over processed and chemically damaged, it is important to seek out high quality, properly extracted essential oils. The highest quality oils will be extracted using the lowest heat and pressure needed to release the valuable oil. Too little heat and pressure will not release the oil, however too much heat and pressure will fracture the chemical composition of the oil and alter its therapeutic value. It is also important that essential oils be extracted from healthy, properly harvested plants of the correct species and age to get the quality therapeutic grade essential oil extract.
Essential oils are naturally safe and have few, if any, undesirable side effects when used as directed. It is very important to understand, however, that with regard to essential oils, more is not better. Essential oils are highly concentrated, some more so than others, and they are used in very small amounts for optimal results. It is wise to learn about each kind of oil, its effects, and the effective methods of application to avoid irritating skin or using too much. For example, Peppermint Oil can be used effectively to refresh the mouth, cool the body when overheated or mixed with Lavender oil to calm stress and tension. But it is also important to know if you are breastfeeding that Peppermint Oil can also dry up milk production. This example points to the importance of learning and gaining understanding of individual oils. Another key point is that not all essential oils can be ingested internally. An excellent resource to learn about essential oils is a book called Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide To The Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, published by Aroma Tools. Your own copy of the book can be ordered through our office at TWIHW.
With so many oils available and an endless number of combinations and applications, why not get started? We recommend that the novice choose two or three of the most popular and useful oils and practice with them first. Easy oils to begin with include lemon, lavender, and peppermint. For example, Citrus Limon (lemon essential oil) can be used in the following ways:
- Add a drop to your water bottle or restaurant water as an internal cleanser
- Diffuse aromatically to remove odors
- Combine with peppermint oil for a refreshing mouth wash
- Apply topically for mood elevation
- Add to a drop of honey to soothe an irritated throat
- Dilute with coconut oil for a daily fingernail conditioning treatment
- Add to olive oil for a non-toxic furniture polish
- Use the oil to remove gum, label adhesives and greasy substances from fabric
- Add to vinegar water to clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces
As you can see, essential oils can provide a healthy alternative to chemically toxic products such as fragranced room sprays and candles, personal care products and household cleaning products. They can also be used in recipes and applied to the body to restore, heal, and protect. Come see us at TWIHW to see our selection, and start using essential oils in your wellness journey.