You just want the skinny, right? You don’t want to sit through a class, go to a friend’s home, login anywhere- you just want plain and simple. Well here it is- an essential oil primer.
What is an essential oil?
- A volatile substance derived from plants containing the natural smell and characteristics of the plant.
- Extracted primarily through steam distillation
- Potent, volatile and versatile
Essential oils are the aromatic liquids found within shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, resins and seeds. Some people like to call essential oils “nature’s living energy” because they contain unique constituents that provide a host of benefits.
Most essential oils are extracted from plant sources using steam distillation and are highly concentrated, making them far more potent than dried botanicals. Essential oils are volatile, which means that the scent of the oil rises quickly into the air.
They are also versatile, with a wide variety of uses. Some people use essential oils to enliven an environment, support different body systems, or just for the great scents. However you choose to use essential oils, chances are someone else has tried that same use in the past.
Essential oils are nothing new. They have been used throughout history in many cultures for their health-supporting benefits. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Europeans, and Chinese have used them for centuries for health, beauty, fragrance, and spiritual practices. There are also many references to essential oils in historical texts, which signifies their importance in history.
How do you use essential oils?
One of my favorite ways to use essential oils is aromatically. Many of us have had a time where a smell triggers a memory- freshly baked bread, pine needles, or spring flowers can easily take you back to positive times in your life. Essential oils are the same!
- Place a couple of drops in the palm of your hand
- Rub your hands together
- Cup your hands over your nose and mouth and inhale deeply.
Diffusion is another great way to use essential oils aromatically. By creating a fine aromatic mist, diffusers allow you to create a spa-like atmosphere and enjoy the benefits fo essential oils in any environment.
Essential oils can also be applied to the skin. This is known as topical application. Topical application is a great way to support your skin because essential oils are easy to use and provide quick benefits. If you have never used essential oils, one great area of the body to apply them topically is to the feet. Always dilute the essential oil in carrier oil such as olive, sweet almond or coconut at first to become accustomed to applying essential oils directly to the skin. And always dilute in a carrier oil when applying to children.
Some people choose to use essential oils internally by adding them to water or liquid, placing them in a capsule or placing a drop in a teaspoon of honey. An example of internal use is peppermint essential oil which can help promote healthy bowel function and support overall digestion when taken internally. You may have heard the great controversy about ingesting oils. I use the oils in cooking and I also ingest when I want to support a specific body system. I tend to be mindful and intentional about how I use oils but particularly with ingestion. And please know that if you are to ingest oils or educate others about oils, be sure to instruct others to read the essential oil label and follow recommended use. Some brands of essential oils do not offer any ingestible oils while others do. So peppermint essential oil from one company may not be labeled for internal use while another brand of peppermint essential oil is ingestible with suggested use on the label.
The ingestion of essential oils is highly debated. Millions of people ingest oils. In my opinion, it becomes a matter of self-advocacy (educating self) and personal choice.