March 11, 2015 by Dr. Sana Keller
I recently read this headline: If Essential Oils Make You Feel Better, Go Ahead and Use Them — Wow — Really?? I realize that health claims abound — and I fully agree that Essential Oils can provide great benefits, BUT they are not a cure-all for every situation and health condition. As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach, I consider them as a great set of ‘tools’ with many great (appropriate) uses . Read on…
The WHAT and WHY of Essential Oils
Essential oils (EO’s) are highly concentrated components distilled and extracted from the leaves, stems and roots of plants. For example, one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 26-28 cups of peppermint tea. There are over 90 EO’s, with use being documented in ancient times for various therapeutic reasons. They have been growing in popularity, due in large part to an increasing interest in safer options for taking care of ourselves and our homes.
Check the LABEL
You may find inexpensive essential oil ‘wannabe’s’ in your search, but please leave them on the shelf. Product labels with descriptions such as food grade, fragrance oil and perfume oil are usually synthetic and do NOT have the same essential oil properties. Look for Therapeutic Grade or 100% Essential Oil to ensure purity of the product.
EO’s Are NOT a Cure-All
Although EO’s are easily accessible, attention to proper use in proper amounts and proper dilution is of utmost importance. Ingesting essential oils (as in capsules) should ONLY be under the guidance of a health professional with expertise in essential oils (Precaution #1). Contraindications for using certain EO’s include pregnancy and breastfeeding as well as with infants and small children (Precaution #2). A number of EO’s should not be used in undiluted form on the skin, especially wounds (Precaution #3).
EO’s should be stored in dark-colored glass containers. They can be diluted with water and used in diffusers like this or this. EO’s can also be added in appropriate dilution to a carrier oil like almond or jojoba oil or an unscented lotion (3-5 drops/tsp oil or lotion)—a wonderful therapeutic addition to a massage!
Other ideas for safe use:
- 3-5 drops on a damp washcloth is a great replacement for dryer sheets.
- Add a few drops to unscented laundry detergent for a clean, fresh smell without chemicals.
- 3-5 drops of lavender oil on a damp cloth for gentle inhalation is a portable stress-buster. Keep in a small seal-able bag in your purse or pocket.
- 3 drops each lemon or grapefruit oil and tea tree oil in vinegar water for a natural spray cleaner in the home. Here is a DIY Essential Oil Cleaning Spray recipe.
- 3-5 drops of cinnamon or citrus simmered in a small pan of water to remove kitchen odors.
Now, The 5 GREAT USES for EO’s:
Antibacterial and Disinfectant Properties
With the growing awareness of chemical toxicity in everyday-use products like kitchen and bathroom cleaning sprays, essential oils provide a welcome and wonderful-smelling option to the often-caustic and overwhelmingly strong-smelling cleaning products found on store shelves.
Published studies have found cinnamon, clove and rosemary oil effective against bacteria such as staph, E. coli, pneumonia. Tea tree oil has antifungal and antiviral properties as well.
Antibacterial and Disinfectant Essential Oils: Tea tree, Frankincense, Lemon, Thyme, Lavender, Oregano, Clove, Grapefruit, Pine
Stress Reducing, Calming and Sleep Promoting
Lavender is one of the most studied EO’s with studies reporting improved sleep quality, more stable mood, decreased cortisol levels and reduced anxiety. As well, additional studies using various blends of these calming EO’s are showing synergistic positive results.
Stress reducing Essential Oils: Lavender, Geranium, Rose, Chamomile, Frankincense, Bergamot
Room Fragrance and Deodorizer Action
No more ‘plug in’ room fragrance for you—they spew out hormone-disrupting chemicals! Experiment with fragrances you most prefer in a small room diffuser (links above). Blending a few makes it really interesting!
Great room fragrance and deodorizing Essential Oils: Frankincense, cinnamon, lemon, orange, lime, pine, rosemary
Mental Alertness and Concentration
Imagine the wonderful scent of peppermint subtly filling a classroom, resulting in significant increases in mental accuracy among the students. This is just one of the newer findings after increased study in this area. Try it yourself the next time you need greater focus!
Essential Oils that enhance alertness and concentration: Peppermint, rosemary, sage, lemon
Many EO’s are known to raise energy levels, stimulating the body and mind–all without the potentially dangerous side effects of other widely available stimulating substances. Check it out when your energy is lagging…a grapefruit or rosemary scent to give you a boost in the afternoon…nice!
Energizing, stimulating Essential Oils: Grapefruit, jasmine, rose, eucalyptus, rosemary, sage, cinnamon
This is not an exhaustive list of the many health and environmental benefits and uses of essential oils, yet you probably have thought of some ways you would like to start using them yourself. Anything natural to get rid of the artificial chemicals from plug-in room deodorizers and scented candles is a great starting point!
And I didn’t even touch on the topic of blending oils…another day! Please share your favorite essential oil uses in the comments below…
To your ever-improving health…
Sana Keller, PhD, RN, CNC Health Unlimited LLC
Photo credits: nativeamericannutritionals.com, purpleecovillage.com, acts.org.uk, coffeecupsandcrayons.com, rainliving.com, amismachinery.com, apartmenttherapy.com, viataverdeviu.ro, onlynaturalessentialoil.com,