Introduction to Essential Oils

Introduction to essential oils

Using essential oils for the first time may seem daunting but it needn’t be. Sometimes just a quick sniff of an essential oil can determine if the fragrance is right for you. For example, consider the last time you inhaled fresh coffee first thing in the more or freshly baked bread, how does it make you feel? Happy? Relaxed? Energised? Sad? All those emotions and feelings are generated from your sense of smell and aromatherapy works in exactly the same way.

How do you feel? Happy? Relaxed? Energised? Sad?
Aromatherapy works in exactly the same way.

Our sense of smell is an amazing tool that has the power to effect both our mental and emotional responses. Once we sniff an essential oil our smell receptors quickly respond to the limbic system. The limbic system is part of the brain that functions both smell, emotions, behaviour, and memory. While some essential oils may induce uplifting or invigorating effects, others are more calming. There are so many different essential oils that can be used to benefit certain ailments and conditions too.

How Do I Use Essential Oils?
Essential oils can be used as an aroma, applied topical and taken internally. Lets take a look below:

Aroma:
Essential oils used to inhale to induce uplifting or calming effects can be found in electrical Aroma Diffusers, Reed Stick Diffusers, Potpourri, Room Sprays, Scented Candles and Pillow Sprays. Sometimes only a few drops are needed to create a relaxed aroma and are a popular choice by many.

Topical:
Topical application is a great method for applying essential oils by the use of massage to the body as the oils quickly absorb into the skin more easily. Massage can also increase the blood flow while promoting the aroma sensory effects at the same time.

Essential oils must never be applied directly to the skin.
(due to the adverse skin reactions, remember its still a chemical base).

A suitable carrier oil (sweet almond or coconut oil) must be blended within the essential oil for safer use on the skin. The carrier oil is perfect for sensitive, dry flaky skin as it helps to moisture the skin and protect the skin from hydration.

How to use:
The recommended dilution ratio is typically one drop of essential oil to three drops of carrier oil. It’s always best to start with the lowest possible dose (1–2 drops) to begin with.

Were to apply:

  • Neck
  • Forehead and temples
  • Chest and abdomen
  • Arms, legs, bottom of feet

Sensitive Areas to be Avoided:

  • Some facial areas, such as the skin around the eyes
  • Eyes and inner ears
  • Broken, damaged, or otherwise injured skin

Other effective methods:

  • Add a few drops of oil to a warm bath
  • Make a hot or cold compress by soaking a towel or cloth in water, adding essential oils, and then applying to the desired area
  • Add oil to a lotion or moisturiser and then apply to skin

Internal use:

Consider the last time you sprinkled cinnamon on your coffee or sipped a mug of peppermint tea. Did you know you were naturally consuming volatile aromatic essential oil compounds? Many essential oils contribute health benefits as well as flavouring and aroma properties to foods. When in their concentrated form, essential oils can be used as dietary supplements for more targeted and potent health benefits. Internal use is a very safe and effective method of application because of the sophisticated physiologic processes of our bodies.

When ingested, essential oils directly enter the blood stream via the gastrointestinal tract, where they are transported throughout the rest of the body. Essential oils are lipid soluble so they are readily transported to all organs of the body, including the brain. Then, like all things we consume, essential oils are metabolised by the liver and other organs and are then excreted.

The composition of essential oils is highly complex. Each constituent possesses a unique set of biochemical properties that react with cells and organs in different ways. Although these mechanisms of action are not completely understood, the positive end results have been demonstrated. However, the body is only equipped to handle appropriate doses of essential oils.

Proper dosing according to labelling recommendations and other professional guidelines should be strictly followed to avoid toxicity.

Mint tea is a form of 'internal' essential oil
Peppermint tea is a form of internal essential oil

Effective Methods of Internal Application :

  • Use oils in recipes for cooking or baking to replace fresh or dried herbs and spices
  • Remember that essential oils are much more potent than dried or fresh herbs and spices, so start with a very small amount
  • Add essential oils to water, smoothies, milk, tea, or other drinks
  • Take essential oils internally in a veggie capsule

Which Essential Oils should I use?

Below is a table which shows you the correct essential oil you should be using for your requirement.

essential oil benefits table

To learn more about the difference between Fragrance Oil and Essential Oil in my next article. Click here.

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10 comments

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