What is an essential oil?

Anytime you research natural options it’s likely you will come across suggestions to implement essential oil regiments. These ideas may have even been what brought you here. 

Essential oils have been in use for thousands of years. Frankincense and Myrrh were gifted to Jesus. In 300BC, Hippocrates, the Father of Modern medicine, used Oregano oil as an antiseptic and for stomach and respiratory ailments, and Lavender oil has been a long time favorite of parents for helping to calm and soothe their children. Even the main pain fighting chemical component of aspirin, Salicylic, originated from Willow Bark, a plant still used for pain relief today.

But when you hear the term essential oil, what does that actually mean?

An essential oil is a compound removed from within the roots, flowers, seeds, bark and other parts of the plant. They are highly concentrated making them very powerful and potent. While essential oils often have a pleasing aroma, they actually help to protect the plant from harsh environments or threats. These oils are distilled from the plants and then used for their chemical compounds to fight off illness, strengthen the immune system, decrease inflammation, and even calm the mind and spirit to name of few of the benefits.

Did you know that not all essential oils are the same? There are many components involved in keeping the chemical make up of an essential oil pure. Geography, distillation process, even the time of day the plant is harvested can change the chemical compound of the oil. These components contribute to the purity of the oil. And purity is what we want to strive for to create the highest quality theraputic grade essential oils.

Spending money on an inferior product usually leads to frustration and poor results. I would rather use 3-4 drops of Lavender oil than 10-12 drops because the oil I bought is watered down to save me money. When you think about it, if I’m using more how much money am I saving anyway? Pool quality oils could also lead to having unnecessary chemicals diffusing throughout my house or worse, I could be rubbing those chemicals on my kids’ skin.

How do you find pure essential oils you ask? Great question.

Here is my list of what I look for when purchasing essential oils.

  1. Where was the original plant grown and thus the oil sourced from? 
  2. What is the distillation process for that oil?
  3. What is the testing process for the oil once it is distilled? Can I see a report that says exactly the chemical make-up of the oil in the bottle?
  4. Can I talk to the company selling the oil? Can they track my bottle of oil if something were to go wrong? 

You should be able to answer yes to every one of these questions.

the testing and scientific study of essential oils

In the United States, the FDA is not in the business of regulating supplements or essential oils. They do have some restrictions, but they are not going to do the testing for us. We have to seek out companies that are willing to go above and beyond in distilling and testing to sell a pure product we can trust.

Never be afraid to ask hard questions or seek more information. And like most things in life, cheaper does not always mean better.

I’m confident in the oils I use on myself and my family. You can be too. When you need more information about what essential oils to buy, Click here to send me a message and I would love to help answer your questions. 

Aromatherapy

Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful influences over our minds, body, and emotions. Think about the past week. How has your sense of smell affected you? Did you walk into the kitchen, smell dinner cooking and immediately your stomach growled? Did someone pass by you wearing too much cologne and immediately were overcome with negative feelings and maybe a nauseousness? Did an old sweater or blanket smell like a family member and immediately past memories popped into your mind and a feeling of happiness, or even sadness, wash over you? This is the power of aromatherapy.

The human nose can distinguish millions of different smells through hundreds of smell receptors. By comparison, we only have three types of photoreceptors for visual stimuli and less than one hundred taste receptors. Now, indulge me for a minute as we talk very generally on how scent triggers emotions in the brain. 

Aromas are exogenous ligands received by the smell receptors in your nose. These receptors are part of the limbic system of your body which controls the emotion, motivation, learning, and memory parts of your brain. Because this system is so quickly and easily stimulated, it is important to recognize that some scents may have adverse results while some will have positive results. For example, a scent that triggers the amygdala of the brain will release a warning of danger to your body and your adrenal glands will produce adrenaline in a fight or flight reaction. When they say “You can smell danger”, they are right!

How Does this Apply to Me?

Now, how does this all translate for you? Choosing specific aromas will trigger different reactions within your body. Some scents are used for calming the mind and soul, while others are used for energy and boosting your mood. Plus you will have the added benefit of certain oils boosting the immune system, decreasing sinus congestion, or calming that nagging cough.  There are two main ways I like to use aromatherapy.

Two Ways to Use Aromatherapy

First, a diffuser. This is the easiest and most convenient way to add aromatherapy into your home or workplace. Diffusers can be found online, in your starter kit, or your local drug store. A diffuser volatiles or disperses the oil into the air allowing us to breathe it in and easily be absorbed by the body. They say it only takes 20 seconds for the scent to reach your brain triggering all the beautiful parts of the brain to do what they were made for. If you’re not sure how to set up a diffuser, check out my tutorial here.

Second, use your hands. Place one drop of the oil into the palm of your hand, rub together between both hands, then hold them both up to your nose and breathe in and out for 30 seconds. Your own body can be a diffuser for your mind. Anytime. Anywhere. 

If you have been unsure of essential oils, simply add one or two to your diffuser and allow your home to be the beneficiary of the happy feelings they can bring.

Do you have more questions about essential oils or the best way to implement aromatherapy in your house? Send me a message! I’d love to help you craft a strategy that will help you meet your naturalist goals.