How do I choose and use essential oils?
We smell quite a few fragrances throughout the day and at times we hardly even notice it because they are so much a part of our routine life. And we definitely fail to notice the effects that they have on our mind and body. It is believed that fragrances send a chemical message to the limbic part of the brain that controls our emotional responses. Some fragrances can alleviate us, evoke a sense of wellness, whereas some can fill us with vigor and vitality, and yet others which can make us alert and improve concentration.
Some of the effects of fragrances on the human mind and body were realized centuries ago and have been captured in bottles in the form of essential oils. They have always been an important part of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines since ancient times.
But what are essential oils?
Essential oils are natural extracts from different parts of a plant like leaves, flowers, stems, roots etc. These are normally obtained by the process of steam distillation or mechanical cold press, making them highly concentrated, volatile, potent and they brim with therapeutic properties.
Is it just aroma therapy?
Essential oils are not just used for aromatherapy as complementary and alternative therapy, which has gained precedence in the last few decades, but they can be topically applied and ingested under supervision. Essential oils are utilized to improve respiratory health, heal skin conditions, relieves cramps and pains, promote healthy sleep, alleviate the mood and much more. Using essential oils can improve our health and quality of life in a convenient, affordable and versatile way.
Before we even step out to choose an essential oil best suited for your purpose from more than 90 essential oils available in the market, here are some basic, but crucially important points to be kept in mind
PURITY – To reap the complete benefit of the properties of an essential oil, it is pivotal that they should be “pure”. Look for oils that mention only plant parts and no additives like synthetic fragrances or oils.
QUALITY – Choose an essential oil that has been extracted by steam distillation or mechanical cold press method. A good quality essential oil are ones that are bereft of any chemicals and have changed the least by extraction process. Opt for a brand which has a reputation for high quality products.
How to select an essential oil
Essential oils can be easily added to your oils, shampoos, diffuser, spray bottles etc. for a wealth of health, skin and hair benefits. They can also be used as cleaning agents, for mouthwash, cupboard fresheners, room fresheners etc. Let’s look at some of the most common requirements and which of the essential oil would be most suitable for it.
Utter calm and peaceful sleep
If you find yourself awake in the wee hours of the morning, staring at the ceiling, why not consider aromatherapy. The aromas can soothe frayed nerves, reduces stress and anxiety and bequeaths one with a feeling of tranquility leading to a relaxing sleep. Lavender is favored over other essential oils due to its sweet floral smell. Add it to a diffuser, rub it on the pressure points on the time or simply add a few drops to a cotton ball and keep besides you.
Meditation, prayer, and yoga practices
Aroma of essential oil can help to dispel negative feelings like stress and have a relaxing effect, engulfing one in a feeling of peace, wellness, reinforcing concentration and balancing moods. The woody aroma of Frankincense with a hint of spice has been found to be perfect for this and has been chosen time and again for meditation, yoga and prayer.
Reboot and instant pick me up
A person’s energy usually dips in the late afternoon, making way for lethargy. Essential oil face mists are a great way to reboot yourself and provide an instant shot of energy. Cool and minty Peppermint essential oil face mist not only jolts you awake but boosts mental clarity as well.
Cold, cough and congestion
Essential oils have been found to be quite effective in respiratory ailments, to clear a stuffy nose and decongest. Deep inhalations of the essential oil can clear the airways to breathe easy. Add it to the water for steam inhalation. It can be rubbed on the chest and throat, after dilution with a carrier oil, for cough. Eucalyptus essential oil and tea tree essential oil are the preferred oils for this remedy. The properties of the essential oil attenuate mucus and also loosen it up so that it is easy to extricate upon coughing.
Aches and pains
Having properties to reduce joint inflammation and analgesic properties, certain essential oils are also used to relieve sore joints and muscles. A few drops of Eucalyptus or Peppermint essential oil can be added to carrier oil and rubbed onto the affected areas to relieve the swelling of joints and sore muscles.
Acne, blemishes and skin woes
Essential oils have the potential to clear up the acne and heal acne scars and reduce blemishes due to their remedial and healing properties. The overall health of the skin improves with the regular use of essential oils. Tea tree oil is known as alternate acne treatment. Eucalyptus essential oil assists in skin regeneration.
Lavender Essential Oil promotes tissue growth, reduces hyper-pigmentation, diminishes blemishes and brightens and evens out the skin tone.
Mix a few drops of the essential oil to carrier oil, dab on the affected area and wait to dry. Clean with lukewarm water.
Antioxidants in essential oils like Lavender essential oil help to reduce the visible sign of wrinkles and keep them at bay providing you beautiful, younger looking skin.
Frankincense Essential Oil is much coveted for its cytophylactic qualities. It reduces wrinkles, sun spots and scars. It is perfect for dry skin due to its hydrating properties. Just add a few drops of any of these oils to shea butter or a carrier oil and apply on a clean face in circular motions.
Dandruff, lice and healthy hair
Dandruff and lice can be extremely embarrassing for a person as it shows poor hygiene. Essential oils can easily take care of the issue. Tea tree oil removes toxins and improves blood circulation which may boost hair growth and prevent hair loss. It has insecticidal properties that help in getting rid of the lice and prevent the eggs from sticking to the hair. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with carrier oil, massage into the scalp, use a shower cap for better absorption and leave overnight.
Frankincense Essential Oil is known to nourish the tresses from roots up and strengthen the hair ultimately reducing hair fall. It is also an excellent conditioner when used in hot oil treatment; just add a few drops to your hot oil.
Clean and hydrated hair
Peppermint Essential Oil cleans and clears the flakiness of the scalp without drying the hair. It helps to maintain the hydration and reduces breakage. Mix a few drops to your shampoo for clean and healthy hair. It can also be added to carrier oil and massaged in. Leave it in for about 30 min and wash away with a gentle cleanser.
Certain essential oils promote nail health by fighting the micro-organisms which find a home under the nails and moisturizing the cuticles. Lavender essential Oil is loved by the nails for its remedial, moisturizing properties whereas Tea Tree essential oil is revered for its curative properties. Mix essential oil with a carrier oil and rub on the nails in a circular motion.
How safe are they?
We must not assume that since essential oils are natural and obtained from plant extracts, that these are gentle and harmless. As they are concentrated, if not utilized properly they may do harm.Essential oils must always be diluted with a carrier oil or water.