Essential oils are plant based, so the old saying by Hippocrates, "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." holds true in essential oil use as well. If we think of the origins of modern medicines, pharmaceuticals are an attempt to recreate the medicines that nature provides, but without making them go extinct altogether. It is also easier and faster for pharmaceutical companies to chemically combine the separate parts in a lab instead of sending their teams out into the wild to gather for prolonged periods of time.
I am not against modern medicine. I love my ibuprofen, my cold medicines, and my prescriptions when I cannot solve the issue by myself with food, massage, essential oils, or movement. Sometimes we need a quick fix so we can go on being super human with our busy-ness.
I try to set the stage for prevention and minor personal issues with natural methods. Essential oils are part of my regime. They have ben mentioned throughout history in every ancient book from the Bahagvad Gita, to the Bible, and the Koran.
We use essential oils in 3 ways: in the air, on the skin, or ingesting them by mouth.
If using in the air, I use a diffuser by putting water in the top chamber cup, and then putting 10-20 drops in the water. Then in the area below the cup I light a tea candle. Within minutes the room ambiance changes.
If using on the skin, which is our largest organ, we can absorb the benefits right through the skin immediately. It make take some time before the full benefits are realized because it takes a while to get circulated throughout the whole body. We may use alone if the oil is mild in nature, or we may use with a carrier oil if the essential oil will cause our skin to burn or blister. I like inexpensive grape seed oil as a non scented carrier. Grape seed oil is also small enough in its molecules to be absorbed by the skin. It usually does not cause pimples or acne. Other carrier oils that are safe to use are jojoba oil or almond oil. You may use coconut or shea butter, but know that these oils will turn solid at room temperature. They are great for making body butters. Personally, I use coconut and shea butters on my face every day.
If using in an oral application, I suggest making into a hot tea by adding boiling water.
We may use essential oils alone or in combination.
How are essential oils made? They are extracted by steaming the plants and skimming the oil off the top of the water. It takes a lot of the original plant to make just a little essential oil. Because of that, it is super concentrated and effective. Remember, quality essential oils are always food grade and therapeutic. Food grade means that whether we add the oil to our recipe for eating or not, it can be ingested without causing harm. An example is lemon essential oil or zest added to lemon curd. Therapeutic means it is for helping our body in some way.
Here are some oils and their uses:
Lemon oil, or other citrus: for mental clarity and appetite suppressing. I put essential oils of citrus in hot water, along with lemon juice for a drink when I am hungry. This will help us ascertain if we are really hungry, or just emotionally or socially hungry. Lemon oil is great for studying and learning. I put lemon or citrus oil in a diffuse when doing research for my books. Lemon and citrus oils help cleanse the liver and calm the stomach even though it smells sour and acidic. Lemon in general creates an alkaline environment in the body. I also use citrus oils mixed with carrier oils for polishing my wood furniture. Lemon is also used for sore throats.
Lavender oil: most commonly used for sleep and relaxation. It also improves the mood. We can put some drops in the bath, on the pillow, or directly on the skin. If used on burns with a carrier oil, it speeds healing. It is also good for itchy bug bites.
Tea tree oil: good for acne and dandruff. Mix with honey for a facial mask. Put on foot fungus, cuts, wounds, and eczema rashes. Tea tree oil is good for killing mold and mildew in the house. I mix it with water or vinegar as a cleanser on my countertops. Then I burn a different, better smelling essential oil in a diffuser afterwards to make the air smell less sour.
Peppermint oil: good for soothing the stomach when in pain, diarrhea, and bad breath. This is why gum often has peppermint oil in it. Peppermint aids the colon in digestion as well. In the Middle East and Africa, peppermint tea is offered after a meal rather than coffee. A few drops rubbed on the temples are good for headaches. When massaged on the chest it will help with allergies and colds.
Frankincense oil: this is the most common oil found in historical texts. It has been used in healing of scars, in alternative cancer therapies, and in colon issues. Because of its healing properties, some anti-aging products use frankincense in its ingredient list. Go topubmed.org and you will find clinical studies on essential oils and diseases. Other oils used in disease studies are sandalwood, thyme, cypress, myrrh, cedar wood, and wild orange oil.
Rose oil: used for an anti-inflammatory response. Rose oil may be used on the skin or in baking. Sometimes rose oil is mixed with geranium oil and lavender oil for wrinkle reduction or other skin issues. Geranium oil also helps with balancing the hormones in the body.
Energy oils: most common are rosemary oil, cinnamon oil. Be careful about cinnamon oil on skin without a diffuser. I took a bath in it once and had tiny blisters all over my body and face for three days. This is a testament to how concentrated it is. Rosemary and sage oils combined stimulate hair growth at the follicles.
Green apple, grapefruit, and other scented fragrance oils that are not essential oils may stimulate energy but use them in a diffuser only because they are not therapeutic and food grade.
Memory oils: in my most recent book I tell a story where some of my earliest memories are tied to scent. When we use scent now to link to our past, we can recall good feelings and memories. We can also use scent as a way to solve a stressful situation now by injecting the positive feelings and scent from our past into the current challenge. For example, aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and butter immediately recall for me, baking with my mother early in the morning during winter break. The music was on the radio, the oven was warming up the kitchen, the snow was sparkling outside, and we were making something together, Hungarian pastries, as well as memories. Now, when I think about her current situation, living in hospice, with kidney failure and Alzheimer's, it stresses me out. She is so far away from me and I can't fix this. So, to alleviate my stress, I light a scented candle or diffuse essential oils of vanilla, cinnamon, orange, or pumpkin. My anxiety lessons within about ten minutes because of the memories associated with those smells.
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Try these at home:
Natural Thickening Shampoo Recipe
6 ounces aloe vera gel
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 Tablespoons baking soda
20 drops rosemary oil
10 drops sage oil
10 drops orange oil
Mix in a bowl and put in an empty bottle or jar. Rub vigorously on wet hair and let sit 2-5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and follow with your favorite conditioner. Rinse conditioner as usual. For best results use 2x a week.
Sunburn Relief Recipe (also good moisturizer)
6 ounces aloe vera gel
6 ounces water
10 drops peppermint oil
10 drops lavender oil
10 drops frankincense oil
10 drops vanilla oil
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and put in spray bottle. Spray all over body, avoiding the face.