Essential Oils: the basics
Out of all of the natural home-healing remedies, essential oils are seen as the sparklers in the fireworks display – nice, pretty, but not very effective. They smell yummy and look good, but as far as having an actual effect, many see them as, essentially, pointless.
Nothing could be further from the truth. True, once you rub an immune boosting mix onto your chest if you have a cold, your cold will not be gone in half an hour. However, unlike when you smash a load of Beechams, using essential oils is much gentler on your system and gives it the support that it needs and tackles the source of the problem, not just masking the symptoms.
So, how do they work?
Using a vaporiser is a good way to absorb essential oils. The atoms that make up the oil stimulate the smell receptors in the nose that then send chemical messages up to the brain which in turn either has a physical or mental effect on the body. Much like when you smell wood fire, scents can relax people or make them feel nostalgic. If you smell an enjoyable scent such as an essential oil, your body relaxes as you enjoy the scent, your muscles release, your cortisol (colloquially known as the stress hormone) levels drop and your mood will therefore improve.
Diluting the oil with a carrier and rubbing the mix onto the skin is a slower way of absorbing the oil, as the oil has to travel through the layers of the skin to get to the blood stream. However, doing it this way can be more therapeutic as you can do it through massage and can be better if you have a physical ailment that you are using the essential oil to treat (i.e. sore muscles, rubbing a soothing lavender oil or eucalyptus oil relaxes muscles and fights inflammation).
I cannot say/type this any clearer – assume that all oils are NOT safe to ingest unless they specifically say otherwise. Purely because the oil is made from something edible, does not mean that the oil is safe to consume. This being said, there are big retailers who do develop oils specifically for cooking purposes. Recently, I had chocolate that had wild orange essence infused into it, and my LORD was it delicious. Please, please do promise me that you’ll check before you start cooking up a storm though, ok?
How do you use them?
Essential oils shouldn’t be used on their own unless vaporising or cooking. If you are applying the essential oil topically you need to use a carrier oil in order to dilute the potency of the oil, as applying the oil straight to skin could cause irritation. There are a number of excellent carrier oils that you can buy alongside the oils, and they themselves have their own healing powers. You want to choose a carrier oil that will nourish your skin but will also carry the essential oil into your skin.
How can I do this thrifty?
Making your own essential oils always interested me, but it’s a proper investment. To be able to do it at home you have to buy a distilling kit which costs about £800 – that’s no pocket change. You can buy a lot of reasonably prices essential oils either online on places like Amazon, from independent big retailers or you local health food shop. However, do be warned that the legislation isn’t tight on essential oils so I would steer you away from ordering the cheapest oil you can find online. I would recommend DoTerra oils, they are amazing quality and do some really cool blends, but there are some independent retailers that do amazing things too – in a later post I’m going to test drive some of the UK independents and see which is best!
You don’t need to buy the special Sweet Almond Oil that’s about £5 more expensive than you can afford, when there are so many incredible oils out there down the aisles of your local supermarket. A 100% virgin olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil (depending on how fancy your local supermarket is) would be perfect for the job, you can dilute the essential oil into a cup and get applying! Coconut oil is one of the best as it is full of antioxidants and is super for your skin, however, the best for anti-inflammation is olive oil, with its high percentage of oleic acid which is good for your heart and cardiovascular system.
How do I know it’s for me?
You can buy a lone wolf essential oils and test them to see if it’s one for you, but this is why I do recommend buying them in store because chances are you’ll get to smell a sample to see if you’ll like it. I’d say start with something you know, see how the smell makes you feel and whenever you need a pick me up/a bit of comfort, try rubbing the essential onto your heart space and see how it makes you feel. It’s all about you, my lovelies, so why not do a little exploring and treat yourself to something new and exciting!