A Step by step guide to using Essential Oils

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Since the pandemic more and more people are making a conscious effort to veer away from harmful chemicals and embrace natural products in their daily lives. Personally I am a big fan of natural derivatives like essential oils in my daily life and I have been using Essential oils by adding them to my  baths ,foot soaks, hair oil and even to my night cream to reap the goodness of natural plant oils.

Using Essential Oils can keep your mood upbeat and also take care of minor health and beauty ailments even when you are sitting in your home.

So let us venture into this less explored but wonderful world of essential oils.


Some common Essential Oils have great fragrance too



What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are unique concentrated aromatic compounds extracted from plants and hence are the  “essence ” of  that plant .

Essential oils are obtained through distillation (via steam and/or water) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing of the original plant or part of the plant like the flower, leaves or roots etc.

Using Essential Oils is a bit tricky. Pure Essential oils are highly concentrated to be used directly , that is why once the aromatic phytochemicals have been extracted, they are usually combined with a “carrier oil ” like Jojoba Oil,Coconut oil or Avocado Oil etc. to create a product that’s ready for use or the carrier oil can be mixed just before use.

How do Essential Oils  Work?

Recall that sense of peace  permeating your body when you walk into a Spa that uses the aroma of essential oils or how a rub of peppermint oil could take away that nagging headache or how a perfume sets you in the mood for love !

This is how Aromatherapy works!

When you inhale an aroma or fragrance, the sensory impulse travels through the nerve endings inside your nose to the olfactory cortex which is a component of the Limbic system of our brain.
The Limbic system ( or the emotional motor system) is responsible for the experience and expression of emotions in addition to memory, learning, motivation, and bodily functions like appetite and sex drive. It is located in the core of the brain and includes the amygdala, hippocampus and hypothalamus. The amygdala is involved in forming emotional responses (particularly fear responses) and memories, the hippocampus is responsible for long term memory, and the hypothalamus regulates emotional responses. It is the Limbic system that connects senses, such as odors, to our memories and emotions.

Aromatherapy uses a combination of different Essential Oils to stimulate the Limbic system and affect the emotional responses of the brain and helps in treating disorders like anxiety, sleeplessness , joint pains, skin and hair problems etc.


Some  common Uses of Essential Oils


1. Medicinal use  – Besides being used for Aromatherapy to treat various disease conditions.

2. Eco-friendly Insect Repellents -Essential Oils like Citronella are also used as non -toxic insect repellents.

3. Room fresheners- While keeping mosquitos at bay, Using Essential Oils can create a pleasant atmosphere or a laundry fresheners.

4. Use for enhancing Beauty – Essential oils are also used as local applications to the skin and hair for enhancing beauty or treating lot of skin conditions like infections, blemishes, dandruff, wrinkles etc.

Here’s a list of 10 popular essential oils and their common uses to get you started

1.Peppermint Oil: helps to boost energy and aid digestion
2.Lavender Oil: helps  to relieve stress
3.Bergamot Oil: for stress and  skin conditions like eczema
4.Rose Oil: to improve mood and reduce anxiety
5.Chamomile Oil :  to improve mood and induce relaxation
6.Ylang-Ylang Oil: to treat headaches, nausea, and skin conditions like acne
7.Tea Tree Oil:  to fight skin infections like acne, dandruff ,ringworm etc. and boost immunity
8.Jasmine Oil:  to help with depression, childbirth, and libido
9.Lemon Oil: to help in digestion, mood, headaches, and more
10.Rosemary Oil – to relieve Exhaustion, body aches, dandruff etc.

Mistakes to avoid when using Essential Oils

1. Essential oils are not be taken orally , however delicious they may smell !
2. Purity, quality and Reputation – The process of extracting the oils is important, as essential oils obtained through chemical processes are not considered true essential oils .Always buy them from a reputed and reliable source. Essential oils are expensive so purity is important.
3.Keep them away from open heat sources like candles, flames  as some of them may be flammable .
4.Always store them in dark coloured glass vials as heat, sunlight and plastic bottles may denature       them.
5.Keep the Essential Oils away from the reach of children and pets.
6. Even though pregnant women can find essential oils to be helpful in treating nausea, backache, headaches, and mood swings etc. it is always best to check with your doctor or the aromatherapist rather than use them on your own.
7.A person with an impaired olfactory pathway may need larger doses of Essential oils or may not react to Essential oils as well as others. This can be due to smoking, aging, upper respiratory infection, head injury, and exposure to chemicals or radiation , neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s , Parkinsonism etc.

How to  Use Essential Oils

Once you have procured the Essential oil/s from a reputed source and are assured of its purity, you have to choose the right method to use it.

1. Absorption through the Skin

Direct Application
Direct rubbing should only be done by combining the Essential Oil with a Carrier oil .The recommended dilution is is 3–5 drops of essential oil for every ounce (30 ml ) of carrier oil. The oil can be applied to areas that are dense in nerve endings like back of the ears, soles, temples ,wrists etc. It is strongly advised to do a patch test and check for adverse skin reaction or allergies before using the oil on the skin. This method is used for improving skin tone and blemishes, acne etc. or for curing aches and pains.
Essential oils can be added to baths (pic- pexels.com)

Adding to Foot baths or bath water – This is a safe and easy way of using an Essential oil but it has limited value as the exposure time is less and the oils are very dilute.

2. Through Inhalation

This can be done in many ways

Inhaling Directly

A few drops of the Essential Oil is applied to a cotton pad and held slightly away from the nose and inhaled , this may sometimes cause irritation the nose as the vapours are strong.

Steam Inhalation

Adding 5 drops of essential oil to boiling water and inhaling that steam or letting the bubbling steam permeate the room and passively inhaling that diffused aroma  is also practiced. Steam inhalation can be used for infants as this gives a weak mist but this method is often wasteful too.

Using Essential oils
Reed diffuser -(pic -pexels.com )
Reed Diffusers

Traditionally Diffuser reeds made of Rattan were used to soak up the fragrant oil and then gently release it into the air through out the day. They are cheap and lightweight but waste a lot of the product once saturated. Diffuser reeds need to be replaced within 4-6 months of usage.

Ceramic Diffusers

A few drops of Essential Oil is placed over the ceramic plate heated by a wax candle or electrically. They are mostly good for personal use or for a small area and need to be refilled frequently. The heat may affect the properties of the Essential Oil adversely.

Nebulizing Diffusers

These are the latest advancement in the field of Aromatherapy and are the best choice for a large area or professional settings or when one wishes to use the essential Oils for an extended period of time. The Nebulising Diffusers are made of glass and wood and use powerful atomizers with cool mist technology to finely disperse the Essential oil through out a room and ensure uneven distribution.

       Nebulising Diffusers are the best value for money

The biggest plus is that they not use heat or water and yet ensure the purest diffusion  across a given space with minimal wastage of the precious oil.
On the downside , they are expensive but this one time investment can last you a very long time.

I am sure that equipped with this basic knowledge about using essential oils and the right diffuser , you are now ready to experience the healing of these plant oils.

Sit back and Enjoy !

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