3 Ways to Use Essential Oils

Are you curious about all the buzz surrounding essential oils? There’s a very good reason for their growing popularity; essential oils (EOs) are a great tool in your home collection of natural wellness options. When used properly, they are very safe, and remarkably fun and effective. First let’s take a look at the basic question:

What are EOs?

They are highly concentrated liquids that have therapeutic properties when carefully extracted from plants. EOs can be derived from petals, leaves, roots and other plant parts. They have been used for 6000 years and are mentioned over 400 times in the Bible. Because of their potency, a few drops go a long way. Plants develop compounds to protect and sustain themselves. When we use EOs, those same benefits can be enjoyed by us because plant compounds are synergistic with human physiology. This is comparable to the way plant nutrients from vegetables work with our cells to protect, repair and nourish your body .

Some of my favorite EO uses are for enhancing deep sleep, whole body immune support, seasonal respiratory support, easing sore throats, taming tantrums, soothing tummies, soothing joints, dental care, promoting youthful skin, energy, and focus. I like to make some DIY EO blends and use other EO-infused products for my chemical-free lifestyle.

Using essential oils can be a fun and simple way to boost your wellness, but a little education is important for fully and safely enjoy all of the benefits.

Three Ways to Use EOs

  1. Aromatic Their aroma can be inhaled directly from the bottle, by rubbing a drop between your hands, or by using a diffuser.

2. Topical

EOs can be diluted and applied directly to the skin. Some EOs are more strategic for skincare, while others are great for applying over shoulders, knees, the back, and other areas in need of soothing.

3. Dietary

Certain EOs, with FDA approval for ingestion and identified on the label as a dietary supplement, are safe to use added to an empty capsule, mixed into honey, or to flavor foods (3 drops of lemon EO in a pot of broccoli elevates the flavor immensely).

Some EOs Require Special Care

Photosensitive Oils

Some EOs may cause a skin reaction resulting from sun exposure. Avoid using citrus oils 24 hours before going out into the sun. This phenomenon has been experienced by those mixing margarita cocktails on the beach. Lime EO is extracted from the rind. When repeatedly squeezing limes under direct sunlight, the lime’s oil can interact with the sun’s rays, resulting in a photosensitivity burn-like reaction.

Hot Oils

Some EOs can cause a warming sensation on the skin. Always follow the dilution guidelines before applying. Some common “hot” oils include cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, oregano, hyssop, thyme, and any blends containing these EOs. If you experience a warming sensation or a pink skin irritation when using an oil — flush the area thoroughly with a non-EO carrier oil — such as coconut or olive oil. Do not flush with water; this will push the oil deeper and cause a greater heat sensation. The fat of the carrier oil will draw the EO away from the skin, decreasing the irritation.

Marie Ruggles, RD, CN, CDE

Marie Ruggles, MS, RD, CN, CDE, is a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, and is certified in essential oil safety. She has a master's degree from Columbia University in Nutrition and Public Health where she started her career in research forty years ago. She then began working in public health, translating the wisdom of science into simple action steps for managing chronic disease and maximizing wellness. Over time, Marie became concerned about people's lack of reliable information regarding options for being proactive in their own self-care. She decided to write a book that could serve as a home reference guide for her students who were eager to learn about natural options for preventive health and everyday wellness challenges. Marie is the recipient of national awards for her nutrition education publications and lectures internationally on the safe use of essential oils for everyday wellness challenges. She is on a mission to inspire others to take responsibility for their personal wellness through nutrition and lifestyle, applying the findings of cutting-edge nutrition research to develop a home inventory of natural wellness options. When Marie isn't teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, working in healing prayer ministry, and gardening. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

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