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Wellness

Essential Oils 101

Brittany McCallum

 Photo by Brittany

Photo by Brittany

As an enthusiast of natural remedies, it was only a matter of time until I dove into the world of essential oils. I have used essential oils sporadically over the years, but I never really understood what all they do. After spending time researching and attending a couple workshops, I decided to breakdown the information I have learned to help you get a better grasp of the wonderful benefits essential oils have to offer!

What are essential oils? Concentrated plant extracts obtained by steam distillation, cold pressing or resin tapping. 

What are essential oils used for? Aromatically- you can inhale the scent by placing 1-2 drops of the oil in your hands then bringing your hands to your face and breathe slow or place 4-5 drops in a diffuser to let it fill a room. 
Topically- applied directly to the skin.

How do essential oils work? When inhaling through the nose, tiny nerves send an immediate signal to the brain and go to work on the systems that moderate your mind and body. When applying topically, essential oils penetrate the tissues of the skin and absorb into your bloodstream. The oils travel through your entire body within 25 minutes, even going to your liver. 

Where should I apply the oils on my body? It depends on the oil, but the most popular areas are on your wrists, temples, neck, behind the ears and on the soles of your feet.

What are the benefits of essential oils? Enhance mood, support overall wellness and well-being, maintain healthy body systems and promote relaxation.

How long have essential oils been around? Essential oils are known to be mankind's first medicine and can be traced back to biblical times. Frankincense, myrrh, rosemary and spikenard are all referenced in the bible for anointing and healing. 

Are all brands the same? No! Not all companies sell 100% pure oils. In fact, the FDA only requires 5% of the oil in order to call it pure and the rest is sometimes mixed with synthetic plants. High quality essential oils must be extracted properly and made from wild-crafted organic plants. So, read the label before purchasing because you can easily be ripped off. I discovered that Young Living and doTerra are honest products which I recommend. 

What are carrier oils? Non-essential oils used for diluting. Most common are coconut oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil and olive oil. When using essentials oils topically, you can mix a couple drops of the essential oil with a larger amount of the carrier oil before applying to the skin. 

Common essential oils:
1. Lavender: 
This versatile essential oil is used for calming, relaxing and its fragrance is known for balancing physically and emotionally. What people don't realize is that it's great for treating skin from acne and inflammation. Other uses include- sleep aid, bee sting/insect bite, cuts, skin irregularities, motion sickness, nosebleed, dry/chapped skin, scarring, seasonal issues, flaky scalp, deodorant, sweeten laundry, itchy bumpy skin, sun damage and mouth sores.

2. Peppermint: I love to use this before I workout. I rub the oil on the back of my neck, it instantly cools me down. The scent is very strong so when I put my hands to my nose and inhale, it boosts my mood and gives me energy. Other uses include- indigestion, stomach digestive support, bruising, temperature, itching, poison ivy/oak, working out, nausea, head discomfort, hiccups, alertness/concentration, travel sickness, congestion, joint/muscle discomfort, bad breath, curb appetite, ticks and sore feet.

3. Tea Tree: This is my favorite essential oil! I use it everyday on my face to treat acne and lighten dark spots. It's know to moisturize and beautify the appearance of the skin. It can also be used for sanitation; my Pilates instructor adds it to the cleaner she sprays on the equipment after class. Other uses: boosts immune system, supports healthy lung function. 

4. Lemon: Uses include- air freshener, removal of gum/oil/grease spots and crayon, sore feet, prolong life of fresh fruit, sterilize counter tops, disinfectant. 

5. Eucalyptus: Uses include treatment for cold and flu, hair nourishment, hand cleaner, sinus and allergies, natural home care, odor remover, air cleanser, spot remover, respiratory problems and wound treatment.

6. Chamomile: A relaxing and calming essential oil with multiple uses that include the treatment of dry skin, eczema, dermatitis, bee sting, cuts, bruises, insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, PMS and menopause. 

7. Frankincense: Mentioned several times in the bible as a fellowship with the lord. Uses include the improvement of concentration, immune system, skin swelling, insect bites, sadness/moodiness, strengthen nails, stretch marks, fluid filled skin, skin health (damaged skin spots), scaly skin bump, overall wellness. 

If you are new to essential oils like me, always remember to test small areas on your skin when using different oils. Everybody responds differently and some could cause irritation.