The essence of a plant. We are drawn to, or at times, repulsed by, the many natural aromas of the plant and animal world. Plant chemicals, broadly called essential oils, become airborne and make their way to sensory cells in our nasal passages. From there, these chemicals can trigger parts of our primitive brain, thereby eliciting certain emotions and even memories. They also readily enter our lungs and, from there, our bloodstream. We have developed methods to extract and concentrate these oils so we can harness their enticing properties. We now have essential oil extract from plant leaves, flowers, barks and roots at our disposal. For centuries we have used these oils for pleasure and therapeutic purposes. This includes applying them to our skin and even adding them to foods.
All good things in moderation. Before you jump into the mad scientist mode, take a minute to learn some basic safety tips. Essential oils are highly concentrated in ways that would never occur in nature. It takes 75 lemon rinds to make one small bottle of essential oil! For this reason, always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. Jojoba oil is a popular choice as a carrier oil. Jojoba is beloved for its excellent shelf-life, compatibility with most skin types, and the fact that it is a wax, often described as being similar to sebum, our skin’s natural moisturizer. If diffusing essential oils, make sure to do it well away from any small children and pets. While some (but by no means all) essential oils are safe to consume when in VERY high dilutions (you will find them in toothpaste, mouthwashes or peppermint candies), this does not mean you can swallow those same essential oils from a bottle. Unless you are working with a certified professional, only consume essential oils in products already approved for consumption.
Essential oil quality is key. Find a company you can trust. NOW® Essential Oils are tested for quality and purity using internationally recognized methods and tests. NOW® was instrumental in putting pressure on Amazon to issue a recent policy that requires quality specs from all companies selling supplements online. In 2018, NOW® tested ten online essential oil brands only to find that 13/20 essential oil samples were adulterated with synthetic fragrances or foreign chemicals. As a smart shopper, be aware that the term “therapeutic grade” used to describe so-called superior essential oils is a marketing term and has no official meaning. Also, the term “pure” on a bottle label typically means that the essential oil is not diluted in a carrier oil. While “pure” has no official meaning, many mistake this word as a guarantee of lack of “impurities.”
Enjoying essential oils. The plethora of uses for essential oils is mind-boggling. Getting to know the personalities of each oil will help you maximize their use. For example, peppermint is often thought of as an aid for headaches or migraines. But there is more! Preliminary studies suggest peppermint is a valuable stimulant that may help with things like focus or just lulling you out of an afternoon slump. Try diffusing it during your lowest energy point during the day. Peppermint also has cooling properties that may help relieve symptoms of a hot and irritated arthritis. Here is a recipe to help sooth an arthritic joint:
ARTHRITIS MASSAGE BLEND (5% dilution)
To a 30 ml bottle, add the following:
Instructions: Add small amounts of this blend to inflamed joints as needed. Discontinue if any irritation occurs. This 5% potency is not intended for large surface areas.
Disclaimer: This article and all information within or links is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing here is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or for any changes made to your current prescriptions.