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Flower Power 101:Enjoying Nature’s Gift of Essential Oils

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 Anyone who knows me, is likely aware of my love for essential oils. I’ve been using them for over twenty years. I use my oils for eczema, tension headaches, fine lines, mild muscle cramps, scrapes and cuts, sunburn, breathing, mood,  and fever reduction.
  My husband used to think essential oils  were “flaky” until I used lavender on his sunburn, and he was amazed at the results. Over the years, I’ve turned quite a few people on to essential oils, and all have stuck with them. While I’ve yet to replace the entire medicine cabinet with oils, I love that nature has provided us with  options, and prefer to use natural treatments when possible.
    In this piece I will highlight what essential oils are, my preferred brands, and the “how and why” of my essential oil usage.
    You may be wondering, “What are essential oils?” Essential oils are volatile aromatic plant compounds that are obtained through steam distillation or, in the case of many citrus oils, cold pressing. Many use these oils for various purposes, some of which we’ll explore today.
   When using oils the first thing you want to be sure of is the quality of your oils. Most products marketed as essential oils are synthetic and offer no benefit, but not to worry, reputable companies do exist .
My recommendation is that you learn from the oil expert, Dr.Robert Pappas of Essential Oil University. Dr. Pappas is a scientist who doesn’t push one brand. He’s the ultimate whistle blower regarding adulterated and fruadulent oils, and has discovered a great majority of oils sold at places like Wal-Mart and Amazon are not essential oils at all, but synthetic replicas! I follow his work and recommend you do the same.
Next, you’ll want to choose a reputable brand.  I’m partial to Rocky Mountain Oils (RMO)
Pros: RMO offers good quality without the MLM model which means they’re reasonably priced, oils are safe for internal and external use, great customer service, the company provides scientific info regarding the components in every batch of every oil (gas chromatography), offer more reasonable versions of the MLM companies popular blends, rewards points on every order, monthly specials, and free shipping! Cons: None!
Now, let’s talk about the ways in which these oils are used.
The most common applications of essential oils are as follows: ingestion, inhalation, and topical application. When choosing a method, it’s imperative to consider the absorption rate as well as what you seek to treat.

 

Let’s begin with ingestion. Ingestion of essential oils usually entails placing a few drops into an empty capsule and ingesting. It’s through this method the greatest amount of oils reaches the bloodstream, 95%. Oils may also be diluted in a bit of honey and taken that way. For example, for a sore throat, I mix thoroughly  a drop or two of clove oil with honey and swallow it.

Inhalation is the second most effective way to  introduce essential oils into the bloodstream, 50% with a personal inhaler and 30%-70% with a diffuser.  This is best achieved through diffusion. Inhalation offers the longest lasting aromatherapeutic effects. Examples of this method and it’s uses are diffusing peppermint for a headache, or frankincense for meditation.

Topical application is the third most effective method of introducing essential oils into the bloodstream, 5% to 10%. Topical application is best for skin troubles such as eczema, scrapes, or sunburn. For the most part the essential oils must be diluted appropriately. I’ve found a lot of misinformation regarding  topical use, for example someone encouraged me to use lemon essential oil on an acne spot. It’s actually the citric acid found in lemon juice that exfoliates dead skin; lemon essential oil is cold pressed from the rind and does not contain citric acid. That said, examples of topical usage include applying diluted lavender oil to a sunburn, and using a bit of myrrh on cracked skin. For the most part you won’t be applying essential oils undiluted to your skin, which brings us to our next topic, dilution.

   When I first began using essential oils I applied them neat, which turned out to be a major mistake for my delicate skin (as well as my sense of smell, essential oils are strong!). Thankfully, I learned thay diluting essential oils helps with their efficacy in three ways: dilution lessens chances of adverse reactions and sensitization of the skin,   increases the surface area affected by the essential oils, and prevents the oils from evaporating too quickly.

 

Another way in which dilution greatly benefits the user is the obvious economical advantage of using less essential oil. The preparation used to dilute the essential oil is called a carrier. Lets review some dilution basics.

For best topical absorption, essential oils work well when diluted with a fragrance free lotion. Most commonly they’re diluted with various butters or oils which also work well.

When using essential oils in the bath, they should first be diluted in a bit of castille soap, a shower gel base, or a bit of oil before hitting the water.

When making a room spray, essential oils should first be diluted by filling your spray bottle halfway with rubbing alcohol, then add an equal amount of distilled  (never tap) water. Shake it up and enjoy.

Dilution rates can be tricky, especially for those of us with sensitivities. The simplest equation I’ve found is to measure drops of essential oil against a teaspoon of carrier oil, lotion, or soap. With the exception of treating a cut, scrape, or toothache (I apply oils neat for these), I’ve experienced the best results with 2% dilutions.

Robert Tisserand, a longtime  aromatherapy expert, recommends the following dilutions. They have served me well.

Facial application: 1% dilution-one drop per teaspoon of carrier.

Daily topical use on the body: 2% dilution-two drops per teaspoon of carrier.

Treating temporary symptoms: 3% to 10% dilution- three to ten drops per teaspoon of carrier.

   We all have that friend who has thousands of dollars in essential oils. I actually have a few friends whose oil collections blow my mind! Being a bit of a minimalist means my collection is conservative in contrast, but I still have a nice grouping of oils. Aside from the occasional blend, I tend to use the same oils year after year. The companies I use sell their most popular basic oils in kits as well as individually.
  Stay tuned for more information on essential oils!
Sources:
Usingoilssafely.com
Essentialoiluniversity.com
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