Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Brief Introduction to Essential Oils

Essential oils are compounds in herbs, flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, bark, fruit and wood.  They are extracted and bottled undiluted, ready to be mixed with a carrier oil, and used in a variety of ways. 

Essential oils are absorbed through the skin into your circulatory system, or inhaled and connect with nerves in your nasal cavity, sending signals to the limbic system.  The limbic system controls things such as heart rate, blood pressure, and memories!  That is why a certain smell can trigger a fond (or not so fond) memory.

If you are in doubt of the power of oils to penetrate your skin, try standing on a clove of garlic for 5 minutes, and then check out your breath.  Yup, garlic!

Each essential oil affects your body in a slightly different way, thereby causing different reactions within the body, like antidepressant, sedative, or energizing.  They can help aid digestion, ease stress, and boost the immune system.

A few words of caution on essential oil use:

Do not use them directly on your skin.  Always dilute them in a carrier oil (I do use tea tree oil directly on my skin, but just a dot on blemishes).

Please do not ingest essential oils, and keep them away from children and pets.

Many oils are not recommended during pregnancy, including camphor, clary sage, jasmine, and wintergreen.  There are many more, but these are some of the more common ones.  Chamomile, geranium, lavender and peppermint should not be used in the first trimester.  (Peppermint is not recommended for the first 20 weeks).

A few oils that are great during pregnancy include bergamot, ginger, grapefruit, lemon, orange, and neroli. 

There are so many ways to use essential oils.  You can add them to oil and use them for massage, place a few drops on a tissue and put it in your pocket, purse, or under your pillow.   Try adding a few drops into your vacuum cleaner bag, or place some on a cotton ball and leave it in your sock or underwear drawer.  Drop a little lemon or tea tree oil onto you dishcloth.  Add a couple of drops to a spray bottle of water and use it as a refreshing body or room spray.  Place some in your bath water.  And we can’t forget the vaporizer – add some to a bowl of hot water and lean your head over the bowl with a towel over your head, breathing deeply (great with Eucalyptus)!

Four of my favorite essential oils are:

·      LAVENDER - good for burns, would healing, immune support, helps with sleep. 

·      PEPPERMINT - helps with indigestion, respiration, headaches, and fatigue. 

·      EUCALYPTUS - assists breathing, and has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiseptic qualities.

·      ROSEMARY - stimulating, eases muscle aches, headaches, depression, arthritis, and fatigue.

These are just a few of the many ways you can use essential oils, but even this brief introduction should give you some ideas to play with.