Essential oils have been a part of my life for at least eight years. My mother was using them and so whenever I felt a sore throat coming on, a stomach ache, or any kind of ache—if I burned myself in the kitchen, cut myself with a knife, or just needed to focus on a project—my mother would pull out the appropriate essential oil. Lately, they have become more mainstream as people are tired of having adverse reactions to synthetic drugs, tired of putting chemicals into their bodies, and are learning about and experiencing the benefits of essential oils. The beauty of essential oils is that they can help equip the body so that it can do what it was designed to do: heal itself naturally.
Essential oils are not a new fad. Historically, essential oils have played a prominent role in everyday life for centuries and are considered mankind’s first medicine. Research dates the use of essential oils back to 4,500 B.C. Ancient Egyptians were the first to discover the potential of fragrance, and records demonstrate that oils and aromatics were used to treat illnesses and perform rituals and religious ceremonies in temples and pyramids. In fact, three oils that are still commonly used today—cedar wood, myrrh, and frankincense—were used in the embalming process.
The reintroduction of essential oils into modern medicine first began during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since that time, essential oils have been used traditionally to kill harmful germs, as well as spiritually to balance mood, lift spirits, and dispel negative emotions.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils, known as nature’s living energy, are the natural, aromatic volatile liquids found in shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds. The distinctive components in essential oils defend plants against insects, environmental conditions, and disease. They are also vital for a plant to grow, live, evolve, and adapt to its surroundings. Essential oils are highly concentrated and far more potent than dry herbs. They are complex substances made from many different chemicals (as many as 300 ingredients in one essential oil!) with many beneficial properties.
How are They Used?
1. Oils may be inhaled directly from the bottle, your hands, or bath, or they can be diffused in your home or work space. The aromatic properties of essential oils stimulate our sense of smell and positively affect our bodies, moods, and minds through inhalation.
2. Essential oils may be applied directly onto the skin. Some oils may be applied undiluted, in which case place one to three drops directly in the palm of your hand or directly on the desired part of your body. Others may need to be combined with a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. Carrier oils are often used when essential oils are used for massage or to cover a large part of your body.
3. Many essential oils can be safely ingested: dropped into water, put into a capsule, or added to a recipe (therapeutic-grade only, as lesser quality oils are not safe for ingesting). Always check the label or with a health care professional first to ensure an oil is meant to be used internally.
Please note: Never use therapeutic-grade oils in plastic bottles. Only use those in glass or stainless steel. Therapeutic-grade oils are so potent that they begin to break down the petro-chemicals and leech plastic particles into the water.