Friday, March 13, 2015

Essential Oils 101: How to use Essential Oils

Life has been crazy at my house and I haven't had time to update my blog in awhile, and I've been so excited about this next section: how to use essential oils! A lot of people are curious about essential oils and want to try them, but don't know how to use them. These are my favorite ways to use essential oils.

1. On the feet. This is the best way to get oils into your body. Our feet have large pores that quickly absorb the oils and distribute them throughout the body. Studies have shown that when oil is applied to the feet, it can be detected throughout the body within 20 minutes. The feet also have reflexology points for every part of the body. For the most part, I simply apply a few drops of oil along the inside surface of the foot. The inside of the foot represents the reflexology signals for the spine. Since everything in our body is connected to the nerves that come from the spine, this is a great place to send the oils to be distributed throughout the body. I truly believe that oils go where they are needed. If you want to apply the oils to more specific locations (for example, if you want to apply Breezey and Aspire to the lungs), you can look at one of the many foot reflexology maps online to see where the energy signal is on the foot. I haven't found one online yet that I feel like is completely accurate (as I was taught in foot zoning) but they are close enough. I believe there is power in intention, and if you have the intent to send the oil to a certain organ, it will make it there. Here's an example of a reasonably accurate map:

You only need to apply a few drops of oil to the feet. Some sources say that you need to use 10-15 drops on the feet, but this isn't necessary (and can be excessive!) if it's a pure, undiluted oil. Another advantage to applying the oils to the feet is the feet are less likely to be sensitive to the oil.

2. Direct application. Since essential oil molecules are very small, they pass easily through the skin. An essential oil applied over a stomach ache can penetrate the skin and bring quick relief. When applying essential oils to the skin, especially over a large surface, you may want to dilute them with a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil. This prevents skin irritation and spreads the oils further than if used alone. For example, if someone had a sore back and wanted to apply peppermint oil, it would require a lot of the oil to cover the surface of the back and would likely be too strong and would irritate the skin. But if a carrier oil is held in the hand, and 1-3 drops added to it, the oil can cover the same area and provide relief without irritating the skin. Always dilute oils when using them on babies and children.

Layering: Oils can be applied one right after the other, a process called Layering. I was taught that blending oils together is a tricky process that requires a lot of knowledge about the oils and how they react to each other. I never put oils together in a bottle (like a roller bottle) to apply for convenience. It's most effective to layer them. It takes only a few seconds for the oil to be absorbed and the skin to be ready for the next oil. I see a lot of recipes online for roller bottles and, to be honest, I don't trust them. I leave the art of blending oils to the professionals. For more information on this, refer to the book "Butterfly Miracles with Essential Oils" by LaRee Westover.

3. In a bath. I absolutely love having an essential oils bath! Add just 1-2 drops of oil and swish it around in the water. Water enhances the action of the oil, and the oil has a homeopathic effect on the bath water, mixing with the water molecules. When I have body aches from tension or sickness, I put a few drops of peppermint, Millenia, eucalyptus, and Deeper (or Paine or Warm Down) in the bath and soak away! You can also do a foot bath with warm water and a few drops of oil. Because the oils are pure and do not have any vegetable oils added to it, they are safe to use in baths with jets or jacuzzis and will not clog the motor.

4. Diffuse. The molecules of essential oil are very volatile and disperse into the air easily. There are a number of ways you can diffuse oils:

- Electric diffuser. Diffusers are either heated or non-heated. To maintain the integrity of the oil, choose a non-heated diffuser. Diffusers range in cost from $40-150. My favorite is the Classic Diffuser. Butterfly Express sells this diffuser for about $70. (**Update** Butterfly Express no longer carries this diffuser because of reports of it failing to work properly after the warranty expires. They chose to discontinue it because they want their name to be associated with high quality products. They are now recommending the Monarch Atomizing Diffuser and the Whisper Diffuser.) It can also be purchased on Amazon and at Natural Grocers. You simply fill it with filtered water, add about 5 drops of oil, and it will diffuse for up to 5 hours. During cold and flu season, or when I feel something coming on, I like to diffuse SpiceC to kill any bugs in the air and in my lungs.

- Scentsy warmer. Fill the warmer with water (after removing all the wax) and add about 5 drops of essential oil. The water heats just enough to evaporate slowly, diffusing the oil molecules into the air. Do not place oils into the warming dish by themselves, or the heat will destroy the oil.

- Humidifier. It's best to use a cold-air humidifier/vaporizer to maintain the integrity of the oil. I use this when my kids are sick and I want them to breathe in Breezey and Aspire all night to keep down a cough.

- The most simple method is to place a few drops of oil into a bowl and pour warm water over it. For really deep inhalation, add hot water, drape a towel over your head to form a tent over the bowl, and breathe in the steam.

- Room sprays. Put warm water into a spray bottle (preferably a dark glass bottle since essential oils can erode plastic) and add 20-30 drops of essential oil (more or less depending on your preference) and shake. Let sit for about an hour, then shake again and it's ready to spray. I have seen some recipes include witch hazel in their room sprays, but I don't like it. The scent of witch hazel overpowers the scent of the essential oil. I have heard many times of people putting lavender in a spray bottle and spraying their children's pillows before bedtime. It also makes a wonderful linen spray!

- Cotton ball. Add a few drops to a cotton ball and keep it in a Ziploc bag in your pocket or purse so you can bring it out and sniff it as needed. This can be helpful for nausea and morning sickness (citrus oils or peppermint can be helpful), Tranquility for stressful situations or panic attacks or for kids with ADD/ADHD to help them calm down and refocus in school, or whatever the need may be. You can also clip a cotton ball on to a heater vent or car vent to disperse the oil.

5. Household Use. I'm learning more about how to use oils around the house to cut down on chemicals and fragrances. Instead of using dryer sheets, I put a few drops of lavender on a wool dryer ball to reduce static and to lightly scent the clothes. I diffuse the oils or use room sprays made with oils in place of air fresheners. I saved my old foaming soap bottles from Bath and Body Works and now I make my own foaming hand soap with about 20 drops of SpiceC (because it smells better than Deliverance). The recipe for soap can be found here:  There are so many resources online for using oils around the house!

I do not encourage using the oils internally. Some companies suggest putting 10-30 drops (or more) of essential oils into a capsule and swallowing it, or dropping oils under the tongue. As we learned in previous posts, essential oils are extremely concentrated plant material and one drop can be the equivalent of drinking 30 cups of herbal tea. Everything I've learned about essential oils says that they should not be taken internally. My gut feeling is that ingesting essential oils is not a good idea, and that applying them to the feet (or other methods listed above) are just as (if not more) effective. If you do choose to ingest oils, please do your research first and don't just take the word of the company selling the oil.

I like these two articles that I recently read on the subject:

If you have any questions about how to use essential oils, please let me know!