Is there more to essential oils than aromatherapy? Because I’ve been advocating essential oils as holistic treatments for awhile now, and a few curious friends asked how to fully utilize essential oils, this post has come to fruition.
My first encounter with essential oils was when my mother dripped a few precious drops of Lavender essential oil into a ceramic dish holding water over a tealight before bedtime. Aside from making the air resemble that of a spa, she said it would help relax us and give us better sleep quality. Honestly it’s hard to relax when half the time I was being paranoid about the flame setting the curtains next to my bed alight. Hey, I have a colourful imagination!
This year, I’ve come full circle with essential oils and started using them again. Since I’m now more knowledgable about the full therapeutic benefits of essential oils, I choose to diffuse them with MUJI’s Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser (SGD89 in MUJI stores island-wide) which employs ultrasonic waves to vaporise the essential oil infused water to produce a cool and dry, fragrant mist. Why this diffuser instead of a heat based one? Well, heat alters the chemical properties of an essential oil damaging important constituents. Secondly, some essential oils are flammable especially if they’re diluted in an alcohol base (espeically cheap, dodgy oils). I guess my imagination wasn’t so farfetched after all…
I could probably wax lyrical about the potential of essential oils but since this post is an introductory post I’m going to keep things simple. The brand of essential oils I use and highly recommend because I’ve seen how effective they are, is Young Living. I’m going to be completely honest–they are a MLM company–and though that’s not something I’m overjoyed about, I’m willing to overlook that fact because I believe they put in the most care and quality in extracting pure therapeutic-grade oils. I am not an affiliate and I purchase my oils through a friend who is a member. If you know of any other great brands you think I should try, please let me know in the comments below!
Moving on to the whole point of my article–is there more to essential oils than smelling incredible amazing? Yes! Essential oils can play a very powerful part in our everyday lives from chemical-free house cleaning to clearing a persistent stuffy nose or headache, and even healing cuts/burns. Think of them like an arsenal of powerful plant-based weapons in your fight against ‘zombies’ (ailments of any kind!).
The essential, essential oils
- Lavender: An all-round multi-tasker, Lavender is great at soothing your mind, body, and soul after a stressful day at work. A few drops of Lavender on a cuts/burns helps ease any pain or inflammation and quicken the healing process. I swear by hot compresses with Epsom Salts and Lavender to get rid of eye styes, cysts/pimples, and ingrown hairs.
- Clary Sage: One of my favourite oils to diffuse to combat PMS, Clary Sage is an uplifting oil containing natural phytoestrogens. I suffer from the occasional hormonal imbalance which I’m trying to correct with proper eating habits, and I find Clary Sage has helped in preventing any mood swings or irritability, and also the amount of hormonal acne which announces the imminent arrival of my period.
- Peppermint: Those with chronic sinus problems and headaches will love Peppermint. Apply a couple of drops on your temples, behind your ears, and on the back of the neck to clear your sinus passage, ease a headache, or even motion sickness. I take a bottle of Peppermint everywhere with me because I do occasionally get queasy on public transport, but this usually keeps me from throwing up on people next to me. Peppermint is also very useful in warding off the putrid smells, typically experienced during rush hour when trains are packed to the brim with commuters and their raised arms. I also like to apply a drop on my chest and back when I’m having breathing problems due to a bad cough. Peppermint has also been said to bring fevers down in children, so parents take note!
- Purification: Struggling with musty or unpleasant odors at home? Purification is your best bet! I keep a cotton ball saturated in Purification at the bottom of my trash can to keep the stink away. A few drops of Purification on a cedar ball stored in your wardrobe keeps your clothes smelling super fresh, a great natural alternative to those foul-smelling mothballs. Since this blend contains Citronella, Lemongrass, and Rosemary, it does double duty as an insect repellant or even as flea and tick prevention for your pets.
- Melrose: This powerful blend of Tea Tree, Rosemary, and Clove promotes skin health. Like Lavender, Melrose helps heal cuts and scrapes. I find this to be really effective on rashes like eczema and psoriasis, as well as any stubborn skin (such as Athlete’s Foot) or ear infections. I dilute Melrose with coconut oil to clean out my dog’s ears when she was suffering from a smelly yeast infection in her left ear. I also apply a drop of Melrose at night to any zits that pop up unannounced, and wake up to a less inflamed, healing bump in the morning. I suggest doing a patch test before trying this especially if you have sensitive skin. I really don’t want to be responsible for any allergic reaction!
- Thieves: A potent blend said to be inspired by French thieves who protected themselves with cloves, rosemary and other aromatics while robbing plague victims, Thieves is equivalent to a natural antibiotic. Since this supports the immune system and good health, I like diffusing Thieves when I feel I’m on the brink of falling sick. Take a drop of it in raw manuka honey to instantly soothe sore throats and deal with a bad cold. Thieves can also be used a multi-purpose cleaner/sanitizer (a couple drops in a spay bottle), which will get rid of any mold and bacteria. Thieves is a very hot oil, so keep that in mind when using it for topical application. I suggest diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut oil.
Some other oils I love and use often but didn’t mention above are; Lemon (I add two or three drops to my water to detox), Valor (this healed a month-old stubborn bruise on my shin), and Stress Away (takes me to my calm, happy place!).
Pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils are pretty expensive to acquire, but one bottle will last you awhile if used sparingly. I strongly advise against impure oils sold by unknown vendors because they might cause adverse reactions like rashes and allergies. Please always enquire about the source and how the oils are distilled. If your questions go unanswered, walk away.
So many people have been ‘burnt’ (figuratively speaking!) by essential oils that they rather avoid them at all costs. This isn’t to say some people might not be allergic to a certain oil. There are always exceptions, but be open minded and slowly introduce the oils to your body. We live in a toxic environment, and if you happen to experience rashes after using the essential oils, it could simply be the process of detoxification. Our skin is our largest organ, and naturally any toxins manifest in the form of skin conditions.
One more thing I wanted to add is to be careful of any containers you store pure essential oils in. In it’s pure form, essential oils are strong enough to melt plastic. For example, use a glass bottle if you want to make your own blend of essential oils. Likewise, drink your water out of a glass container if you decide to add Lemon essential oil like I do.
I hope this introduction to essential oils has been insightful! Of course if you have any further questions, leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer.
Disclaimer: Due to the lack of supporting medical research, essential oils cannot be recommended for treatment or prevention of any health issues. If you’re unsure, please consult with your general practitioner before taking any home remedies or supplements. While I’m happy to share my experience for the general public’s benefit, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Those with sensitive skin are also advised to do a patch test before application.
Disclosure: In the spirit of full disclosure, I only recommend products I love and use myself, so rest assured you’ll be in good hands. Compensation was not provided by MUJI/Young Living. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of MUJI/Young Living.