Do you ever walk into someone’s house and light up with a smile because it smells so dang good?!
Or spray a sample of perfume and feel more relaxed every time you catch a whiff of it?
That’s because smell is arguably the most powerful of our senses.
With one good sniff we’re taken back to memories of our grandmother, high school dances, or our first love.
A strong and mighty way to capture these smells are to use essential oils! Which are…
“Made from fragrant essences found in many plants. These essences are made in special plant cells, often under the surface of leaves, bark, or peel, using energy from the sun and elements from the air, soil, and water. If the plant is crushed, the essence and its unique fragrance are released.” (source).
Recently, essential oils have soared in popularity for many reasons…
… however their primary use is aromatherapy.
“Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants to support and balance the mind, body, and spirit” (source).
Claims have been made that essential oils uses have the ability to improve our everyday lives.
These claims boast infinite benefits to implementing aromatherapy in our lives. They say that by simply smelling an essential oil it can either relax you, aid your digestion, raise your spirits and even help you fall asleep.
Little research has been done on the benefits of essential oils uses. However, from the research that has been done, essential oils benefits have been found equivocal (source).
HOWEVER… whether or not they’re the “cure all” some claim them to be, I love essential oils and use them daily!
Let’s dive in and learn a little more about these potent oils, use the table of contents below to skip to whichever section you’re looking for…
Essential oils are one of my favorite household clean-living/joy spreading tools.
It’s amazing how a few drops of an essential oil in my diffuser can fill up a space with a strong and powerful scent!
Which leads me to yet another reason why I love essential oils… They have the ability to make your house smell so fresh (and so clean :)), for those of us who don’t have the time to clean everyday :-/
Here’s the background..
What are Essential Oils?
In short, essential oils are highly concentrated natural oils gathered by distilling (typically steam distillation) of plant component (such as a peel or a leaf).
These oils emanate a strong fragrance similar to their original source.
Despite their name, essential oils are not actually an oil. They’re called “essential oils” because they capture the “essence” of a plant’s (or a plant’s component’s) scent.
Essential oils are extremely potent. They are “far more powerful than the botanicals from which they were extracted” (source).
For example, according to the Physicians Data Query on Aromatherapy… “it takes about 220 lbs of lavender flowers to make about 1 pound of essential oil” (source)!
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential Oils can be used in many ways, however I only practice (and suggesting only practicing) the following:
Diffusing: The broader term for this is inhalation. Inhalation is the process of actually inhaling the essential oil.
The only form of inhalation I practice and recommend, is diffusing. This can be done by simply placing a few drops of essential oil into a diffuser and allowing the oil’s aroma to fill the room.
I absolutely love diffusing essential oils, and highly recommend it to anyone who wants their house to smell AMAZING! I love switching up the scents based on the season and my mood. So easy, and so powerful.
We’ve actually put together an article on The Best Essential Oil Diffusers – if you’re in the market for a diffuser I suggest checking it out!
Now, you’re probably wondering what benefits you could possibly receive from simply smelling an essential oil?
“One study showed that after essential oils were inhaled, markers of the fragrance compounds were found in the bloodstream, suggesting that aromatherapy affects the body directly like a drug, in addition to indirectly through the central nervous system.”
I find this absolutely interesting, as it justifies why so many are using essential oils in their everyday lives.
Additional forms of inhalation that people practice are to place a few drops of an oil on a hot compress or in bath water.
We will get into safely using essential oils below, but while we’re on the subject of inhalation, it’s important not to inhale the essential oils for too long and to use very few drops of the oils.
Be cautious, as using essential oils in this way can cause headaches, vertigo and dizziness.
Another awesome way to use essential oils is to combine them with a carrier oil or water and apply to your skin.
(More on this subject below – you shouldn’t apply essential oils directly to the skin, as some oils may be unsafe and cause a rash. To get around this, apply essential oils diluted in a carrier oil.)
The safest way to do this is to add essential oils to homemade beauty products.
I do this in all my products and absolutely love the results (check out my recipes for lotion and body butter here).
If you mix essential oils with carriers like shea butter, cacao butter, or coconut oil you get the added benefit of hydrating your skin! Plus, since you’re using essential oils, the fragrance comes directly from nature as opposed to store bought products where the scent is synthetic!
Essential oils are also great in homemade cleaning supplies. We’ll be posting some of these soon!
How Aromatherapy Works
Again, how the heck can simply smelling a fragrance have so much power and potential benefits?!
Research still needs to be done on the subject of how essential oils effect us, one theory is that…
“Smell receptors in the nose may respond to the smells of essential oils by sending chemical messages along nerve pathways to the brain’s limbic system, which affects moods and emotions. Imaging studies in humans help show the effects of smells on the limbic system and its emotional pathways” (source).
Does Aromatherapy Actually Work
Aromatherapy has been used for centuries by many different cultures. In fact…
“Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for nearly 6,000 years. The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them in cosmetics, perfumes, and drugs. Essential oils were also commonly used for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes” (source).
According to the Physicians Data Query on Aromatherapy…
“Several clinical trials of aromatherapy in patients with cancer have been published with mixed results.
A few early studies have shown that aromatherapy may improve quality of life in patients with cancer. Some patients receiving aromatherapy have reported improvement in symptoms such as nausea or pain, and have lower blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rates. Studies of aromatherapy massage have had mixed results, with some studies reporting improvement in mood, anxiety, pain, and constipation and other studies reporting no effect…
No studies in scientific or medical literature discuss aromatherapy as a treatment for cancer specifically” (source).
The report went on to say that “Aromatherapy is rarely suggested as a treatment for cancer, but rather as a form of supportive care to manage symptoms of cancer or side effects of cancer treatment” (source).
Another study conducted by Ohio State University,
“examined the effects of aromatherapy on immune responses, wound healing, and pain control and found no improvement among volunteers exposed to lemon and lavender scents” (source).
My take is this… true, there may not be scientific evidence backing claims that essential oils can solve all your ailments. However, if it makes you feel better, and you’re USING THEM SAFELY, then why not?
Dr. Weil’s take is similar to mine…
“Medical aromatherapy (as opposed to use of essential oils in spa treatments) is much more developed in France, Italy, and Japan than in the U.S. I believe that physicians and researchers here have only a primitive understanding of its potential to affect physiology and health.
If aromatherapy makes you feel better, by all means use it. But don’t buy into dubious claims that it can treat everything from acne to yeast infections. And make sure that your aromatherapist is qualified; in the United States, anyone can get a piece of paper attesting to ‘certification'” (source).
Using Essential Oils Safely!
As stated above, essential oils are highly concentrated, which is why they can be so expensive and need to be used in a safe and educated manner.
A Huffington Post article on essential oils stated that “4,000 pounds of Bulgarian roses are needed to get just one pound of oil”.
Dr. Joesph Alton’s article stated that “it takes an entire acre of peppermint to produce just 12 pounds of oil”!
Now imagine applying a liquid that concentrated directly to your skin!
According to Brianna Scarpelli of Young Living Essential Oils, “Never apply most oils directly to your skin, as their high concentration can cause a reaction or irritation”.
The Physicians Data Query stated that…
“Allergic reactions and skin irritation may occur in aromatherapists or in patients, especially when essential oils are in contact with the skin for long periods of time. Sun sensitivity may develop when citrus or other oils are applied to the skin before sun exposure.
Lavender and tea tree oils have been found to have some hormone-like effects. They have effects similar to estrogen (female sex hormone) and also block or decrease the effect of androgens (male sex hormones). Applying lavender and tea tree oils to the skin over a long period of time has been linked in one study to breast enlargement in boys who have not yet reached puberty. It is recommended that patients with tumors that need estrogen to grow avoid using lavender and tea tree oils” (source).
Which is why diffusing essential oils, or diluting them in water and/or with a carrier oil is a far safer way to use them!
I’m not a doctor, or even an aromatherapist (so this is in no way medical advice)…
This is what I find works best for me. Before I use an essential oil, I read about the benefits and ways to use each oil safely. I also make sure nothing I do can negatively interact with the oil.
I recommend doing the same if you choose to use essential oils. Better yet, you can talk to an aromatherapist or doctor before using them.
I don’t want to discourage people from using essential oils, as they truly are AWESOME! I’m just trying to promote research and education for safe use on each product! To read more about the effects and safe uses of essential oils please refer to the following webpages:
Best Carrier Oils to Use with Your Essential Oils
Believe it or not, I have almost as much fun picking out carrier oils as I do essential oils!
There are so many different oil textures, benefits and smells you can experience from combining essential oils with various carrier oils.
Carrier oils make it possible for us to apply essential oils to the skin without the oil being directly applied at it’s full concentration.
“As a rule of thumb, essential oils should be diluted in a carrier substance… at no greater concentration than 3-5%
That means if you have one teaspoon (5cc) of carrier, you would add 3 drops of pure essential oil. This would make a 3% solution that could be used on a portion of the body.
For massage or for application over large areas of the body, a 1% solution (meaning, one drop of essential oil in one teaspoon of carrier) is generally a safe concentration.” (source).
Here are some of my favorite carrier oils:
Coconut Oil (buy here): Isn’t coconut oil just the best?! I use coconut oil for practically everything.
When I first moved back to warm Southern California, I was irritated that my coconut oil was constantly melted!
Now, I am stoked. It’s so much easier to apply!
So for those of you who live in a place that isn’t super hot, coconut oil is a little harder to mix essential oils into. The best way to use coconut oil as your carrier is to melt the coconut oil then add the essential oil and stir.
Shea Butter (buy here) & Cacao Butter (buy here): These are two of my favorites ingredients in homemade beauty products.
These two butters are extremely nourishing and hydrating for your skin! Unfortunately, they’re even more solid than coconut oil, so if you’d like to combine essential oils with either of these I suggest melting them before attempting to combine.
I typically mix an additional carrier oil in with either of these butters before applying it to my skin – check out the two options below for ideas.
Cacao butter smells like chocolate, so you get the added benefit of that!
Jojoba Oil(buy here): Every time I say “jojoba oil” out loud I mumble it. I have been using it forever, and have read everything under the sun about it, but I’m still not sure how to pronounce the word! It seems everyone says it differently, so I mumble!
It has so many uses, and “it contains almost all of the vitamins and minerals essential for healthy skin and hair: vitamin E, B-complex, copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, and chromium. And it’s even gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin without causing allergic reactions” (source).
Sweet Almond Oil (buy here): I love sweet almond oil and add it to most of my homemade products.
It has a great consistency and a nice smell to it.
“When applied to the skin, these same oily ingredients might help chapped skin and irritated mucous membranes” (source).
Water: I don’t use this water as my carrier.
However, if you choose to use water make sure the essential oils and water combine before using – as you know water and oil separate.
Top Essential Oils Uses
Now that you know a whole lot about essential oils, let’s talk about how to actually use them! Below is a list of my favorite essential oils and some of their uses.
This list was hard to make, because I truly love all the essential oils in my collection!
There are so many essential oils out there that aren’t on this list, let me know in the comments below what your favorite is!
Lavender Essential Oil Uses
Lavender Essential Oil smells so dang good and is known for being the most versatile and popular of all essential oils.
It has be used for thousands of years…
“Ancient texts tell us that lavender essential oil has been used for medicinal and religious purposes for over 2,500 years.
The Egyptians used it for mummification and as a perfume. The Romans used it for bathing, cooking and for scenting the air.
And, quite possibly the most famous usage of all, Mary used it to anoint Jesus with her hair and and some believe spikenard was made from lavender essential oil” (source).
Aromatherapy Benefits of Lavender: Lavender is used in aromatherapy to ease anxiety, stress and sadness. It’s also used as a sleeping aid (source).
According to Medline, “Lavender contains an oil that seems to have sedating effects and might relax certain muscles”!
Lavender Oil Uses:
1. Sleep. Use Lavender Oil as a sleep aid – try diffusing lavender oil before and during sleep (make sure your diffuser has a timer so it doesn’t run all night).
You can also add 1 drop to your pillow at night.
I have a lavender mist I spray on my pillow before bed, which is simply lavender oil diluted in distilled water, and put into a mist bottle. I find this to be an awesome tool during times of stress or when I just want to relax!
Dr. Axe suggests “taking a healing bath by adding 15 drops of lavender oil and 1 cup of epsom salts to the bathtub is another effective way to use lavender oil to improve sleep and relax the body” (source).
2. Relaxation. Lavender Oil is also known for its incredible calming effects. During moments of stress or anxiety, try diffusing a few drops of lavender oil.
When I’m stressed I love to spray my lavender oil + distilled water mist (described above) around a space, it’s super soothing.
If you aren’t able to do either of the above, try mixing a few drops of lavender oil into a carrier oil and rubbing it in your palms.
I love using lavender oil in my homemade beauty products. It’s a soothing way to relax after a shower or throughout the day! Check out our Homemade Body Butter Recipe here, or our 5 Easy Homemade Lotion Recipes here!
3. Massage. Add a couple drops of lavender oil to a carrier oil for an even better, and more relaxing massage!
This is the best way to unwind after a long day
Where to Purchase Lavender Oil: When purchasing essential oils, it’s crucial to buy from a company you trust. This being said, I purchase my Lavender Oil here!
Lemon Essential Oil Uses
Believe it or not, Lemon Essential Oil is extracted from the peel of the lemon, not the fruit!
It’s not recommended to apply Lemon Oil full strength to your skin, as lemon oil is phototoxic, meaning it increases your skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light. You should dilute Lemon Oil with a carrier oil before adding it to your skin.
Aromatherapy Benefits of Lemon: According to Dr. Axe, lemon oil is used in aromatherapy for cleansing and purification, digestion and rejuvenate energy.
“According to a study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology last year, lemon oil may actually be the most powerful anti-microbial agent of all the essential oils” (source).
Lemon Oil Uses:
1. Raise your spirits. If you are in a bad mood, or having a bummer day, it’s thought that simply diffusing lemon oil can raise your spirits!
Even though there may not be science backing this claim, if it works for you then it’s worth it! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
2. Cleaning supplies. Lemon Oil is a great in homemade cleaning supplies!
doTERRA, a distributor of essential oils, suggests adding “lemon oil to a spray bottle of water to clean tables, countertops, and other surfaces. Lemon oil also makes a great furniture polish; simply add a few drops to olive oil to clean, protect, and shine wood finishes” (source).
3. Soap. I typically add lemon oil to my homemade soaps, not only because I love the smell, but also because I find it helps keep everything clean!
Dr. Axe says… “Got greasy hands from working on your car or bike and regular soap isn’t doing the trick? No worries, just add a couple drops of lemon EO with your soap and get your clean hands back!” (source).
Where to Purchase Lemon Oil: When purchasing essential oils, it’s crucial to buy from a company you trust. This being said, I purchase my Lemon Oil here!
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint Oil is a combination of spearmint and water mint and is created by steam distillation of these two flowering plants combined (source).
It’s not recommended to use peppermint oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because little is known about its safety during pregnancy and lactation (source).
Peppermint Oil can interact with certain drugs, and disrupt your body’s absorption of them, so double check with your doctor before using it! (source)
Aromatherapy Benefits of Peppermint: Peppermint Essential Oil has a cooling/calming effect that can aid in soothing sore muscles.
According to Young Living Essential Oils, “When your day is dragging—through a workout, class, or day at work—enjoy some Peppermint oil benefits by applying it to your head and neck. The refreshing aroma will give you a boost of positivity!” (source).
“Clinically speaking, peppermint oil is recommended for its anti-nausea benefits and soothing effects on the gastric lining and colon because of its ability to reduce muscle spasms” (source).
Peppermint Oil Uses:
1. Soothes muscles. I use peppermint essential oils in one of my homemade lotions, which I apply specifically after a hard workout, or when I have sore muscles!
Young Living Essential Oils suggest “After a tough workout, dilute a few drops of Peppermint in V-6™ Vegetable Oil Complex, and use it in a refreshing post-workout massage” (source).
You don’t have to make your own lotion, or purchase their V-6 oil. Simply dilute it in a carrier oil and massage it into your skin. Let us know what you think!
2. Sinus/allergies. If you have a cold or allergy symptoms, try diffusing peppermint oil. It may be able to help relieve sinus pain, allergies, colds, or cough (source).
3. Headaches. A recent study also found that Peppermint Oil may have the power to relieve headaches. Add a drop to a carrier oil and massage into your forehead or temples (be extremely careful not to get this in your eyes!)
4. Hunger. I love Dr. Axe’s suggestion… “Inhaling peppermint essential oil can stave off the munchies and can help you feel full faster. If you can’t have a diffuser with you at dinnertime, try applying a couple drops on your temples or chest, or take a couple of deep sniffs from the bottle” (source).
Let me know if it works for you!
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Although eucalyptus trees are indigenous to Australia, they’re now found all over the world because of their medicinal powers.
“Interestingly, small towns in Australia discovered that eucalyptus oil could be converted into a gas to light their homes, hotels and shops. Little did they know that they stumbled upon one of the most powerful forms of natural medicine ever” (source).
The essential oil is made from the dried, then distilled leaves of the tree.
It’s important that Eucalyptus Oil is not taken by mouth or applied directly to your skin at full strength (source).
Aromatherapy Benefits of Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus Essential Oil is used to loosen up bad coughs, reduce fevers and help with acne. The essential oil helps fight bacteria and fungi, and is great in homemade cleaning supplies because of its antimicrobial properties (source).
Eucalyptus Oil Uses:
1. Sick. When you have a cold, place a few drops of Eucalyptus Oil in your diffuser before and during bed (again make sure your diffuser has a timer on it)!
“Eucalyptus works as an expectorant and helps cleanse your body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that can make you feel sick” (source).
2. Cleaning supplies. Because of Eucalyptus’ anti-microbial properties, it works well in homemade cleaning products.
3. Vapor Rub. I have a jar of Homemade “Vapor Rub” I use whenever I’m sick, which is seriously the easiest recipe in the world!
It’s primarily coconut oil, with a few drops of Eucalyptus and Peppermint Oil (keep in mind the carrier to EO ratio discussed above). I rub this on my chest and it works like a charm!
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil has been used for thousands of years, primarily in Australia, for its antimicrobial properties.
The chemicals in Tea Tree Oil are said to kill bacteria and fungus and reduce allergic skin reactions (source). It has gained popularity for its effectiveness in treating acne, cold sores and Psoriasis.
Tea Tree Oil Uses:
1. Acne. Studies show that tea tree oil is extremely effective in treating acne.
In fact a study found that 5% tea tree oil is as effective as 5% benzyl peroxide, and less irritating to the skin! (source). Tea tree oil should not be applied directly to skin, so dilute a couple drops in aloe vera Gel or Raw Organic Honey then apply to blemishes, and rinse off after letting sit for about a minute.
(Be extremely careful not to get tea tree oil in your mouth as it should not be taken orally).
2. Cleaning supplies. Because of tea tree oil’s antimicrobial powers, it’s great to use in homemade cleaning products!
Add a couple drops of tea tree oil to spray bottle with water and white vinegar. I like to add a few drops of lemon or lavender oil, happy cleaning!
3. Mold. Tea tree oil can eliminate mold in your home by simply placing a few drops in a diffuser. (source)
Grapefruit Essential Oil
Although grapefruits may not be your favorite fruit, the essential oil (which is again extracted from the peel of the fruit) smells great and is said to have many benefits!
Aromatherapy Benefits of Grapefruit: Grapefruit Essential Oil is used in aromatherapy to help with hangovers, headaches and fatigue. It’s also said to decrease water retention and inflammation!
Grapefruit Oil Uses:
1. Focus. If you’re anything like me, working from home can be hard at times. I find my mind drifting from what I want to eat for dinner to the bird flying outside my window.
Grapefruit oil is said to increase concentration to prevent these mind fluctuations. I find adding a few drops to my diffuser works really well!
2. Combat cellulite. “Claims are made by a number of body care product manufacturers that grapefruit essential oil combats cellulite. While the FDA does not recognize these claims, there seems to be evidence that grapefruit essential oil does reduce swelling, which could temporarily reduce the appearance of ‘orange peel’ skin.” (source)
See if this works for you by mixing a few drops of grapefruit oil and coconut oil. Rub this combo into areas where you may have cellulite.
3. Curb Appetite. According to Dr. Oz, if you smell grapefruit oil before entering a situation in which the smell of tempting foods could potentially overwhelm you, the grapefruit oil may help you to eat less!
A Few More Essential Oils…
Like I said before, it was hard for me to narrow my favorite essential oils down to the few listed above…
So, here are a few more oils I love!
1. Thyme is an awesome herb to use in the Mediterranean dishes!
It also smells AMAZING! So it should come as no surprise that Thyme oil smells equally stellar! Thyme Oil is used for immune support and as a cleansing tool.
2. Do you ever drink ginger tea after a heavy meal or when your stomach is upset?
Well guess what? Ginger Oil is used to soothe stomachs and digestive systems. Simply diffusing ginger oil is said to help stomach aches.
3. Lemongrass Oil is said to contain chemicals which soothe muscle pain and headaches.
Rubbing diluted lemongrass oil into your temples can calm a spastic head. If you have sore muscles, try massages lemongrass oil combined with a carrier oil to soothe pain.
4. Geranium Oil is extracted from the leaves and stem of the plant. It’s said to help with nerve pain and support circulation.
In aromatherapy it’s used to uplift the spirit and calm the mind.
5. Frankincense Oil has been used for religious and medicinal purposes for centuries.
Young Living Essential Oils suggests to diffuse Frankincense Oil during meditation to establish grounding and purpose.
6. Despite its name, Cedarwood Oil actually comes from the distillation of different types of juniper and cypress trees.
It’s said to ease stress and anxiety.
7. In aromatherapy, Basil Oil is used for mental clarity and awareness.
It’s said that simply diffusing Basil Oil can refresh the mind and enhance your sense of smell.
8. Lime Oil is used to support healthy immunity. However, like Lemon Oil, Lime Oil is phototoxic and makes your skin more susceptible to skin damage upon sun exposure.
9. Similarly to Lime and Lemon Oils, Orange Oil is extracted from the peel of the orange. It smells incredible when diffused in your home.
10. Try diffusing Sage Oil in a space to clear it of negative lingering emotion or energies.
Essential Oils Uses Chart
We know… that was a lot of information at once and you probably didn’t retain every single word we said.
Which is exactly why we created a quick essential oils uses chart for you to reference!
Pin it, print it, put it on your fridge.
Most importantly, try it and enjoy!
Make sure to follow the safety tips discussed above when using any essential oils, and talk to your doctor if you have any questions and/or concerns.
When used safely, there are countless essential oils uses you can benefit from!
The best ways to use essential oils are to either diffuse them, or combine them with a carrier oil (such as in homemade beauty products).
It’s not recommended to eat, or place fully concentrated oils on skin.
Have fun with essential oils! And let us know how you use them in the comments below! What essential oil is your favorite?
Original article and pictures take http://www.thelittlepine.com/essential-oils-uses/ site