Essential oils smell delicious, but they have so much more untapped potential. Most essential oils are rife with healing properties too. They can alleviate any number of uncomfortable symptoms that the environment tosses their way, including congestion, inflammation, headaches and more. You can use essential oils as antiseptics for wound care or as massage oils to help relieve muscle pain. The key, however, is learning how to use them correctly.
Many essential oils are much too concentrated to just open the bottle and apply directly to your skin. But if you dilute them in a carrier oil such as coconut, jojoba, or almond oil, or even with beeswax, you can safely use them as rubs or balms. A good rule of thumb uses a 1:3 ratio, or one drop of essential oil to every three drops of carrier oil. You should always research your potential oil before using it, however. Not all oils are created equal – some, such as wintergreen or eucalyptus are much more potent than others – and using them incorrectly could be a painful lesson. Always take care when using these oils around babies as well – meaning if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, a quick call to your doctor is in order before indulging. But, when stored and used properly, essential oils are not only harmless – they’re incredibly beneficial in helping you cope with the stresses and inconveniences of everyday life in a safe and natural way. A few of the most useful essential oils on the market today include:
If the smell of roses still brings back fond memories of senior prom, you’ll understand why oil of rose is touted as such an effective mood stabilizer. Beneficial for those suffering from depression or anxiety, this highly scented oil works on the limbic system – the areas of the brain that regulate emotions – to calm and soothe. It can be used in a diffuser for aromatherapy or diluted in a 1:3 ratio with carrier oil and rubbed on the body. When placing rose oil in a diffuser, you may need to add a small amount of water. For best results, follow the directions on your diffuser. It’s also believed that rubbing rose oil over your heart or feet promotes peace and tranquility.
But roses aren’t just for smelling anymore either. When applied directly to the skin, this aromatic oil acts as an antiseptic for minor cuts and scratches, and it helps in the healing and appearance of scar tissue and acne as well.
You’ll find plenty of products containing eucalyptus in the cough and cold aisle. This evergreen tree extract is touted as a perfect remedy for congestion, helping to open airways and promote breathing. Eucalyptus essential oil has a number of other healing properties as well, including as a pain killer and as an antiseptic.
Combining 20 drops of eucalyptus oil with a cup of jojoba oil makes a mean massage lotion to combat back pain.
Eucalyptus oil, when combined with olive or coconut carrier oils also acts as a scalp moisturizer. It’s an effective treatment for hair conditions such as dandruff and even lice. You can also combine this potent oil with sea salt and Epsom salt to make a hand wash that’s terrific at removing grease and oil. And if you mix this and other essential citrus oils like sweet orange or lemon with carrier oils, such as coconut oil or shea butter, you can create a vapor rub that’s safe to rub on chests and backs and that’s good for relieving congestion. It’s good to note, however, that you should never apply a eucalyptus rub to children under the age of two unless you’ve cleared it with your pediatrician first.
Eucalyptus, in its pure form, can be toxic if ingested, so be sure to store it in a locked cabinet or container away from a child’s reach. In fact, if you’re planning to use this potent oil as a homeopathic cure, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor first.
Calendula is extracted from the pot marigold. And if you’ve ever taken the time to stop and smell the marigolds along the way, you’ll understand why this essential oil is often combined with other oils that have more pleasing scents. Calendula essential oil has a strong aroma that’s not pleasing to everyone, however, it can help minor wounds to heal and can kill the bacteria that causes cavities inside your mouth. This essential oil is one that’s typically safe to use right out of the bottle because it’s an infused oil and not an extract, meaning it was produced through the process of steam distillation, which adds water. Rub it on insect bites and small scrapes as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Calendula may even help improve eyesight and prevent the formation of cataracts.
Because of its many beneficial skin-healing properties, calendula can be used to treat diaper rash, improve the feel and appearance of dry, chapped skin, and even help improve chronic skin disorders such as psoriasis or eczema.
Who knew your favorite Asian dishes might also have healing properties? Ginger root is famous for aiding the digestive system, and ginger essential oil works the same way. This strong-smelling oil can be inhaled directly from the bottle to keep nausea at bay or can be ingested if diluted by adding one or two drops to a glass of water for an upset stomach. But ginger has healing properties when you rub it into aching muscles and joints, too.
Even more importantly, ginger can help in the prevention of heart disease and stroke, especially when paired with onions and garlic in your favorite dishes. It can help prevent and reverse diabetes, and it can also help stave off serious bacterial infections such as staph.
Sure, that half of a grapefruit in the morning is a healthy way to boost your immune system and jump start weight loss, but so is grapefruit oil. Containing the same healthy antioxidants that are in whole grapefruit, grapefruit oil helps protect you from the free radicals that prematurely age skin and weaken immune systems. It’s also a mood- and metabolism-booster and helps sharpen thoughts and focus. And, like most citrus oils, grapefruit oil has a positive effect on depression, anxiety and stress.
Not only can this oil help divert the symptoms of a nice hangover, but it works as a natural antibacterial agent, and can even help prevent the growth of cancer.
If you’re feeling low on energy, sluggish, or depressed, tip 2 to 3 drops into a glass of water daily as a natural way to detox your body from all the contaminants it picks up in a day. You can also dilute this oil with coconut oil for a body rub to aid in healing sore muscles, or drop a small amount into your daily bath water for a quick, emotional pick-me-up.
Of course, most essential oils are safe to use in diffusers to make your home smell lovely and to help improve your overall mood, but there’s no need to stop with simple aromatherapy. The next time you find yourself perusing the cough and cold aisle or searching through over-the-shelf painkillers for headache relief, consider the many natural benefits offered by essential oils. They’re safe. They’re effective. And they’re packed with the potential to improve the quality of your life more than you realize. Look great and feel even better by mastering the mysteries of essential oils.