Small but mighty in power – they can help with weight loss, with reducing inflammation, getting rid of migraines and pain, for boosting health and recovering from illnesses and they have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal and health benefits. Plus these little powerhouses smell amazing. So what am I talking about? Essential Oils.
What Are They?
Essential oils are the natural oils that are distilled from plants and their parts (flowers, roots, leaves, bulbs and other parts). They are highly concentrated & potent and as such a little goes a long way (for example one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 26-28 cups of peppermint tea).
The whole ‘therapeutic grade’ ratings of essential oils is not a regulated thing but more marketing propaganda to make people think some oils are better quality than others – which of course they are, but there are no grading systems for essential oils. So what do you want then?
Preferably organic or wild (as conventionally grown items are usually loaded with pesticides and given how potent essential oils are and the amount of plant used means you want top quality), and unadulterated essential oils with the only thing going in the bottle is what comes out of the plants after the distillation or expression process. The oils should smell strong and like what they are (not rancid or altered). Your oils should also be traceable from where they were grown. Good quality companies will be able to tell you this.
Some of the benefits of using Essential Oils:
- Improve immunity & illness recovery
- Speed up healing from infections
- Balance hormones & reduce PMS
- Make homemade cleaning or beauty products (toner/bug spray here)
- Can add to food to add a flavour kick (very few oils can be ingested – only ever ingest under supervision)
- Can support weight loss
- Soothe sunburns
- Improving digestion, bloating and reducing nausea (peppermint and ginger being wonderful for this)
- Can reduce inflammation and joint pain
- Use in homemade beauty products – shampoo (rosemary especially to help with hair growth), face scrubs, body wash toner, toothpaste, natural alternative to perfume, deodorant – the lists go on!
- De-stinking out pretty much anything (dog bed, bathrooms, carpet, sports shoes, the fridge, the air)
- Aromatherapy uses
- Reducing anxiety, depression and stress and aiding sleep and relaxation
- Boost the smell of rooms by making a natural air freshener – water in a spray bottle mixed with essential oils combos of your choice (tea tree and lavender is amazing)
- Gets rid of headaches and migraines (my absolute favourite and best comb for what I call the Headaches power blend is an even mix of Peppermint, Basil and Lavender Essential Oils – rub on temples, neck, forehead and under the nose – if your skin is sensitive place a carrier oil in your hand and mix all or place it on the skin before hand).
- This list could go on and on!
- Best to store in glass as they can degrade plastic (or eat/burn through).
- Avoid while pregnant or using on children unless under doctors recommendations.
- In most cases, essential oils should not be used undiluted on the skin. There are exceptions, of course, as some can cause irritation, burning sensation, or allergic reactions.
- Citrus oils may make the skin more sensitive to the sun: can make the skin more sensitive to UV light and lead to blistering, discoloration of the skin or burning more easily from minor sun exposure.
- Differences in Quality: it takes a large amount of plant to produce and is highly concentrated. Therefore higher quality oils and organic will cost more but it is definitely worth it. Also opt for plants grown in their natural environment and region.
How to Use:
- Topically: Essential oils contain tiny molecules that are very easily absorbed into the body which means the body rapidly gains the benefit of the oil/plant. Most oils will require diluting with a carrier oil like coconut or sesame or almond (3 drops to about 1 tsp of a carrier). Also, you can add to baths to help relax and the skin absorbs them easily (mix in with Epsom salts for a beautiful detoxing bath).
- Aromatherapy: For diffusing and natural air cleansing (in burners) – the benefits can be absorbed through simply smelling the oils from this and often helps with mental clarity.
- Cleaning products: as they are very strong – a little goes a long way – lemon, lavender, and tea tree are great for cleaning.
- Ingesting: only ever under supervision as they are potent natural medicines and you can never be sure how your body will react.
Below is some info on the simplest and safest oils that I use daily (although not an exclusive list).
Peppermint – Uses:
- For nausea you can rub on the belly, on the feet, or inhale
- Placing topically under the nose clears congestion
- Aromatherapy in a diffuser: increases concentration, mental clarity, reduces depression and elevates mood.
- In cleaning products
- Homemade toothpaste
- In bug sprays
- A drop under the tongue to increase awareness and concentration
- Reducing headaches and migraines – rubbing on temples, forehead, and neck
- Reduces bloating when rubbed on abdomen (some people don’t need a carrier oil here)
- A drop or two in a cup of hot water as a peppermint tea to ease nausea and aid digestion (also a drop in to smoothies and baking or raw chocolates).
Lavender – Uses:
- It is naturally antibacterial so good for skin care products and house cleaning.
- Helps relax, aids sleep & decreases stress & depression – add to a bath, diffuse, on temples and neck.
- Can help balance hormones
- Calms the stomach and can offer pain relief for cramps
- Relieves headaches
- Wards off bugs
- Number one Essential oil for healing cuts and burns – apply a drop topically.
Basil – Uses:
- Has been known to help regulate periods (use a carrier as sensitive skin can feel as though it is stinging) when rubbed on abdomen
- Reduces headaches
- Reduces pain and inflammation
- Treats nausea & motion sickness
- Stops itching from bites when applied
- Reduces constipation
- Reduces stress
- Very good for digestion and bloating
- Antispasmodic – stops coughs
- Can use internally very small amounts under supervision
Tea Tree (Melaleuca)- Uses:
- Antibacterial and healing – add to beauty and cleaning products
- Relieves coughs and congestion – topically rub in the chest and use in a diffuser
- Wards off bugs
- Raw honey mixed with tea tree on the face to heal and stop acne – apply, leave for 2 mins, wash off – do this 2 x daily
- Boosts the Immune System
- ***I also recently discovered tea tree oil is good for blocked noses, like the kind of blocked nose where you are going to sleep at night thinking, “I’m not sure if I’m going to survive the night here without my nose just blocking all breath” – simply place on a finger and apply to the inside of the nostrils – stuffy congestion gone in seconds (sesame seed oil is also good for this).
Grapefruit – Uses:
- Breaks down fatty deposits, reduces cellulite, and works as a diuretic and for lymphatic
drainage (use a carrier) – massage in to the thighs and stomach or other target areas.
- Appetite Suppressant – place under the nose, in diffuser, or under supervision add a few drops to water 30 mins before meals.
- Antiseptic – good for skin care products and cleaning
- Stimulant and Anti-depressant qualities– add to oil burner/diffuser
Rosemary – Uses:
- Stimulates hair growth – massage in to the roots or add a few drops to homemade shampoo
- Boosts mental activity and relieves respiratory problems – use in diffuser
- Appetite Stimulator
- Good for indigestion, relieving flatulence, stomach cramps, constipation, and bloating – apply with a carrier to stomach.
- Is a disinfectant – add to cleaning products or a drop to homemade toothpaste
- Add to baths to help with stress & pain relief
- Add to skin care products – antimicrobial and antiseptic qualities make it beneficial for eczema, dermatitis, oily skin, and acne.
Citrus Oils – Uses:
- They are astringent and antiseptic so great to add to cleaning products
- Uplifting and cleansing – best in diffusers.
- Lemon oil has natural antibacterial, antiviral and antihistamine properties so is great for insect bites or wounds.
- Citrus oils are made from the peels rather than the flesh.
Cinnamon – Uses:
- Firstly, this smells like Christmas in one whiff. Beautiful, warm, and delicious.
- Boosts brain activity
- Aids circulation when massaged on the skin
- Stimulates the immune system
- Pain and inflammation relief – excellent for painful knees and headaches – can apply with a carrier and massage for a few minutes
- Mouth and breath freshener – add to a gargle or toothpaste
- Good for weight loss and regulating blood sugar levels – one drop in water.
- Room freshener
- Stimulates libido
- Relieves depression (that smell of Christmas could do it!)
- Bug repeller
- This one is very strong so always use a carrier oil as it can make the skin look a little red and patchy otherwise – also opt for the bark over leaf oil where possible.
Ginger – Uses:
- Treats nausea, bloating and aids digestion – can rub with a carrier oil on to the belly
- Helps reduce indigestion
- Reduces inflammation and joint pain (especially good rubbed in to the knees with sesame oil and neem oil)
- Can be added to water with grapefruit and cinnamon as a weight loss and metabolism boosting drink.
- Good for respiratory problems
- Diffused to help with colds and flus and reducing congestion
Juniper Berry Oil – Uses:
- Helps with hangovers
- Amazing for inflammation and pain (especially when rubbed in the joints) and muscle fatigue
- Treats arthritis pain
- Works as a laxative
- Helps regulate the menstrual cycle
- Can help with hemorrhoids
- Good for digestion issues like bloating and colitis
- Has antiseptic properties
- Good for detoxification
- Increase circulation
- Works as a diuretic
- Beats fatigue and helps with insomnia
- Good for acne treatment
- Eases anxiety
What a list right?
Now, having had a painful knee for over a year and continual flare ups in my left wrist for ten years I have come up with this Ayurvedically inspired oil blend that I have been using which has reduced the pain in both my knee and wrist – which I was so surprised how quickly this occurred.
My Arthritis/Joint Inflammation Mix:
200ml organic cold pressed sesame oil
10 mls neem oil (a very good and strong Ayurvedic oil to use for inflammation)
5-10 drops each of the following Essential oils: cinnamon, ginger, juniper berry, peppermint, fennel, and basil (option to add lavender – helps with the smell of the neem).
Combine all and store in a dark glass jar and apply at night before bed – best to wear old leggings you don’t mind getting oil on.
So that’s that HUGE summary of Essential oils for you and my favourite ones to use. If you would like to know the best brand I have found in terms of quality, smell, price, and service check out Meadows Aroma, they can be purchased here and there is a code for 10% off using ‘catelliott10’ that I got them to do up for my readers a few weeks back which you can use on any of the food products too – I do not receive any money from this just sharing with you all where I get them and trying to save you as much money as possible. Happy essential oiling.
Got a favourite oil? Let me know below loves!