Essential Oils 101

Posted on by Paula Gallagher

essential oils 101

My journey with essential oils and aromatherapy started over 20 years ago when I started having sleep issues. I used a balm that had calming essential oils. I noticed the benefits immediately and since then, I have continued to use essential oils for many purposes. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants for healing. Scent is a key component in the use of essential oils, but they can also be applied to the skin in a massage for other direct health benefits.

Not all scents are created equally. Pure essential oils are derived from natural sources, like flowers or herbs, and have no chemical additives. However, many synthetic scented candles, air fresheners and fabric sprays contain chemicals that are thought to pollute the air and contribute to health problems, from allergies and asthma to cancer. Always make sure that you choose only natural, pure essential oils.

What I like most about aromatherapy is that anyone can benefit from it, and essential oils are easy to use. If you are using essential oils topically, you’ll want to choose a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil), as essential oils can be too powerful to use undiluted. And, if you have a health condition or are pregnant, you’ll want to check with your health care practitioner before using them.

These three essential oils are the ones I use the most often and are among the ones I would recommend if you are starting in the world of aromatherapy.

1. Lavender oil

Lavender essential oil has a calming scent which makes it an excellent tonic for the nerves, so it's great for stress, insomnia and anxiety. Place 5 drops in a small spray bottle with water and spray your linens before bed, for a restful sleep. You can also put 1 to 2 drops in a tablespoon of carrier oil and rub it on the soles of your feet and your wrists before bed. To help with sleep, I combine 6 drops of lavender with 6 drops of cedarwood in diffusers to help everyone have a restful night.

2. Tea tree oil

I know it is not going to win in the perfume stakes, but tea tree is antibiotic, antiviral, antiseptic, antifungal, and also an insecticide. I have used this personally in a shampoo to deter fleas and ticks on our dog.

3. Eucalyptus oil

The health benefits of eucalyptus oil can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, antiseptic and antibacterial properties. If you are congested, a couple of drops in a humidifier or a bath can help open up the sinuses and enhance breathing. This should not be used with children under the age of 8. Do you use essential oils? What are your favorites and how do you apply them?

Photo from here, with thanks.