Essential Oils for Improving Well Being
This series of posts will help you get acquainted with Essential Oils and their properties. You will see how to use them in your everyday life and how they can help you speed up the eventual recovery of minor illnesses. Essential Oils can be used in many ways, not only by diffusing them but also for cleaning the house or for cooking. They can also be used for emotional support and for integration of the energy work. I hope you will enjoy these posts and will see benefits from using Essential Oils. :)WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential Oils are aromatic compounds available in different parts of the plants, like the seeds, the leaves, the cortex, the flower, etc. The plant uses essential oils to protect itself or to attract insects for pollination. If you ever smelled a flower, walked in a lavender camp or rubbed a leaf of mint in your hands, you have experienced essential oils.
Essential oils are oil-based and don’t mix with water and although they are fat-soluble they don’t leave the classic oily feeling on the skin. They are quickly absorbed in the skin. If you are looking to extend the effect of an essential oil, you can use a carrier oil.
The properties of essential oils were known since ancient times; they were used in many ways and in different cultures. In Egypt, for example, they were used for embalming, in ancient Greece Hippocrates used plant-based extracts to cure diseases, while the Bible mentions them as the gifts that the Three Kings brought to baby Jesus. During World War II the wounded soldiers were helped to heal with the use of essential oils and after the year 2000, in some countries like for example, France, they are integrated as clinical support.HOW ARE THEY EXTRACTED?
The most common ways to extract Essential Oils are:
COLD PRESSURE: very effective, especially for citrus oils that are extracted from the peels.
STEAM DISTILLATION: the flowers and plants are exposed to vapor and the condensed liquid that is generated can be separated into essential oil and water. Then, the Essential Oil can be collected. This is a very gentle and natural way to extract essential oils.
SOLVENT EXTRACTION: The Essential Oils are extracted with a chemical. This kind of oil is not suitable for topical or internal use.HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential Oils can be used basically in three ways: aromatically, topically and internally. As mentioned before, no matter the way in which you use it, the pivotal importance is the purity of the oils.
The oils can be diffused. To get the most benefit I suggest to use a cold diffuser so that the compounds are not damaged. It is not ideal to use diffusers producing heat. All kind of oils are suitable for diffusion.
Essential oils can be applied topically neat or diluted in a carrier oil. However, some oils are not recommended to be applied neat, for example, oregano oil or cinnamon oil, since they are very “hot” and can cause some irritation. On sensitive skins the citrus oils (bergamot, petitgrain, wild orange, lemon, etc.) can cause irritation in case of direct sunlight exposure. If you apply a citrus oil on your skin, it is best to avoid sun exposure for 48 hours and bergamot for 72 hours.
With babies, it is always very important to dilute the oils and to use them wisely. Remember: a little goes a long way. I suggest avoiding the use of peppermint oils until two years of age on the chest. When in doubt if an oil can be too strong for our baby, just dilute it and apply it on the bottom of the feet.
It is always very personal, but a general table of reference of dilution can be 1 drop of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil for babies, 1 drop of essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil for children and 3-6 drops essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oils for adults.
Not every oil can be taken internally, generally avoid the pine oils (Siberian fir, white fir, etc.) and take internally ONLY if the oils that have written on the label “for alimentary use”. Research very well before taking an oil internally. Some oils, like oregano, are very heavy to metabolize from our body, so it is important not to take them continuously for more than five to seven days. You can ingest essential oils with a veggie capsule or directly under the tongue (I like to take two drops of lemon in the morning like that), you can put them in your food or in a glass of water (I like to put few drops of grapefruit or peppermint in a glass of water to refresh myself on hot summer days).
The most important thing is that the quality of the oils has to be 100% certified and pure.
In the next post, we will see how the Essential oils are extracted and how you can determine their quality :)
Until next time :D