October 5, 2017
Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils
Getting behind the essence of their rich, natural aromas
Essential oils are more than beautiful scents, they’re plant extracts. When you’re being told “that essential oil is lavender,” it means that the lavender oil could have been derived from any part of the lavender plant, including its seeds, stems, roots, flower, and beyond. The question, however, remains, what exactly are you supposed to do with essential oils? Where do you even start? Look no further. We’ve got your back.
What are essential oils?
The allure of essential oils is that they connect our well being through mind and body.The fragrance of an essential oil can instantly instigate a change in our body and our mental state. For instance, bergamot is a citrus, and bergamot essential oils come from the peel of its fruit. Citrus aromas, such as bergamot, typically awaken fragrant notes and have been said to increase focus and clarity. Bergamot oil smells clean and lively, which is why it is one of the soothing aromas included in Earl Grey teas so we can start our day feeling fresh and focused.
Essential oils are so highly concentrated that sometimes it takes an entire plant to produce one ounce of oil. Which is why when using essential oils, a little goes a long way.
Photo courtesy of Joanna Kosinska/Unsplash
So, how do I use essential oils?
Let us count the ways. You can either inhale essential oils or apply them topically. Arguably the safest vehicle – remember, they’re *rich* – is using essential oils for aromatherapy. Inhalation is an efficient way to get a quick dose of essential oils’ benefits delivered directly to your bloodstream. Most commonly used with a diffuser, some essential oils are said to help you relax and increase brain wave activity. Rose essential oil, for instance, exudes a dreamy, floral, full-bodied fragrance. Dab a few drops in a diffuser before bed and you might just fall into a state of ultra-relaxation. Or, de-stress with rose oil aromatherapy before a big meeting and you may feel more powerful and ready to present.
If you’re looking for more topical remedies to your physical ailments, applying essential oils directly to your skin may be a better option. An aromatherapy massage is meant to provide your body with localized, targeted benefits of essential oils.
But, wait. Before you apply essential oils topically, there’s this thing called “carrier oils” you should know about.
What are carrier oils?
Because of their high concentration (for instance, it could take pounds of lavender plants to make one drop of lavender oil) most essential oils are too strong and volatile to apply directly to your skin. Carrier oils, which are typically vegetable or nut-based essential oils, are used to dilute your essential oil solution and make topical application safer for your skin. Plus, because they are usually high in saturated fats and skin-friendly vitamins such as vitamin E, they are typically very moisturizing. Popular carrier oils include argan, coconut, jojoba, and sunflower. Before choosing a carrier oil, if applying essential oils topically, be sure to research which one is best for your skin type as some may affect oily and normal skin differently.
Which essential oils should I use to get started?
Even though you’ll hear “there’s an essence for that” to help solve nearly any ailment, continuously trying and testing the right blend that works for you and your scent preferences is the only way to truly find out what works. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to popular essential oil staples to get you started:
- Bergamot: Bright and citrusy, bergamot is said by many to relieve stress, awaken the senses, and cleanse irritations and infections.
- Cedarwood: With a warm and woodsy scent, cedarwood is said to improve focus and may reduce inflammation.
- Eucalyptus: There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus, most being native to Australia. This could be why Australians are known to be so easy-going: eucalyptus oil has a menthol-like scent, and is said to soothe and clear the mind.
- Frankincense: Sweet, clean, and fresh, frankincense has benefits that are said to be grounding, calming, and relaxing, without putting you to sleep.
- Jasmine: A seductive scent that some believe decreases stress or reduces anxiety.
- Lavender: Perhaps one of the oldest known essential oils used since antiquity, lavender’s benefits are said to include stress relief, improved sleep, and cognitive health protection.
- Ylang Ylang: It means “flower of flowers” so it’s no wonder this scent is uplifting and floral, and perhaps why many say it may have energy boosting benefits. Also, it’s pronounced e‑lang e‑lang. 😉
Something to keep in mind:
Essential oils and aromatherapy are meant to help alleviate symptoms to any aches and pains, both mental and physical, but always be sure to check with your doctor to find the best solution for your body.
Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.
- natural trends