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What Are Essential Oils?
Maybe you have heard the term “essential oils” but didn’t know what was meant by it. Perhaps you had a vague idea that it was connected in some way with aromatherapy, but didn’t know how. Now is as good a time as any to learn what essential oils are. Essential oils are made from different parts of plants. They can be made from leaves, like peppermint oil. They can be made from petals, like rose oil. Some are made from bark or wood, like sandalwood.
Others are made from other parts of plants. If a so-called “essential oil” has any animal products in it, it is not truly an essential oil. Also, true essential oils do not contain synthetic ingredients.
Essential oils are usually made by distillation to make the natural oils in a plant substance very concentrated. It takes an enormous amount of plant material to make just a small amount of essential oils. For this reason, they are very expensive. It only takes a few drops of these essential oils to have a powerful effect. Most essential oils are not used directly on the skin. Most are either inhaled or applied in a carrier oil. Sometimes the oils are put into a bath.
You can buy individual essential oils or you can buy blends. If you buy blends, it’s up to the maker to decide what oils to mix together and in what proportions. You can save money this way, because you only have to buy one bottle of a blend rather than several bottles to mix yourself. If money is no object, you might like to have the choice.
Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote physical and mental well-being. There are many varieties of essential oils and there are different ones for almost every ailment out there. There are several choices of oils for many of the conditions. Essential oils enter the body through the sense of smell. This is why they are often inhaled in some way or another. However, they are also absorbed into the tissues of the skin and into the bloodstream. This is especially true when they are used in baths or massages.
When essential oils are inhaled, they reach the limbic system of the brain and go on to affect all the systems that it interfaces with. These include the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the endocrine system, and memory. In the bloodstream, they affect the organs as well. When you have had a massage treatment with essential oils, it is wise not to bathe or wash it off for a couple of hours. This is because the systems of the body take time to absorb the oils from the skin.
Both psychological and medical conditions have been treated with aromatherapy through the use of essential oils. Some can be very expensive, especially those that come from exotic plants. However, by using the few drops as recommended, a small bottle can last a long time. Essential oils are effective tools in controlling uncomfortable symptoms.
Methods of Using Essential Oils
You can have all kinds of recipes for mixtures of essential oils. You may know just what these blends are meant to do for you. Yet, if you don’t know the methods for using them, they won’t do you much good.
Possibly the most popular method of using essential oils in North America today is inhalation. This method is favored in parts of Europe and is called the German method. You can breathe in the aroma of the oils by putting a few drops of them on a tissue and inhaling. Or, you could just hold the bottle under your nose for awhile.
Breathing in the vapors of essential oils is very effective in most cases. It stimulates the olfactory system which has a great effect on the brain. This can help in cases of mood disturbances, for example. It can help with any ailment that is primarily associated with the brain.
Another method used is massage. The essential oils are dropped into a carrier oil and massaged onto various parts of the body. This is called the English method. It is especially helpful for muscle pain but can be useful for other ailments as well.
The French method of using essential oils is to ingest them. This should only be done with the purest, therapeutic grade essential oils that have been approved to be taken orally. A tiny amount of certain oils can be used to treat ailments like indigestion, for instance.
Sometimes, essential oils can be applied directly to the affected area. This is often the case with skin disorders. Usually, a single drop of an essential oil will do the trick. If you use essential oils this way on children, be very careful. Make sure essential oils are well diluted with oil or water before applying to the skin.
You can do a patch test to determine if you are allergic to a particular essential oil. Mix a drop of the oil with a drop of carrier oil such as vegetable oil. Put it on an inconspicuous area, like under the arm. Cover it with a bandage for twenty-four hours. If you have no reaction, you should be safe to use the essential oil on your skin.
Countless different problems can be aided by using essential oils in a bath water solution. Just add a few drops to your bath and soak for at least fifteen minutes. This will allow the essential oils to enter through your olfactory sense. It will also absorb into your skin, and finally into your bloodstream.
One way to use essential oils is to make a compress to put on an affected area. Put up to three drops of the essential oils on the affected area. Once the essential oils are in place, cover them with a hot, moist towel and then a dry towel. This increases the intensity of the vapors.
No matter how you use essential oils, you will find that they are very helpful for a variety of complaints. Of course, you still need to know exactly which oils to use. Once you know that, you can use the many methods of applying essential oils.
How to Use Essential Oils for Skin Care
People have been using essential oils to nourish and soothe their skin since the time of the ancient Egyptians, at least. For awhile, chemical products were coming on the market every day. People went almost completely away from using essential oils. In recent years, it seems that they’re back.
With the resurgence of the use of essential oils, people are finding ancient answers to common problems. Several different essential oils have been used for simple cleansing. Some of these are sweet basil, lemon, lemongrass, neroli, juniper, and peppermint. Any of these oils can be put in by a few drops in a mild soap. Acne is a distressing skin condition that is related to overproduction of sebum in the skin cells of the face. Essential oils have long been used to help the condition. Geranium, chamomile, tea tree, and lavender oils are among those employed.
These essential oils can be combined with a light carrier oil and applied directly to the skin. However, the extra oil of the carrier may seem to be too much. In this case, the essential oils can be dropped into fragrance-free lotion or cream and rubbed into the affected area. The biggest single factor causing skin to age is the fact that skin loses the ability to hang onto moisture. Thus, it dries out and becomes more fragile. Skin can also age because of exposure to sun or pollutants such as smoking.
Essential oils supply a variety of remedies for aged and wrinkled skin. Frankincense, neroli, or rose oils are excellent oils to use for this purpose. Put them in carrier oils or in fragrance-free lotions to rub on the face. Sandalwood oil, carrot root oil, and many others can be used.
Dandruff can be a bothersome ailment. There are all kinds of chemical remedies in your local stores to treat it. However, there are many essential oils that can help the condition in a more natural way. Cedarwood, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, or rosemary essential oils can be used. There are many other oils and combinations of essential oils that have been used successfully. Any of these can be dropped into hair oil, or added to a water and vinegar mixture to rinse the hair with.
Chamomile and lavender oils are the two best essential oils to use for sunburn. One method is to put a few drops into a cool bath and soak until the heat goes away. The other way to use them is to drop a few drops into a carrier oil and rub gently onto the burnt skin. For severe burns, see your doctor. It seems counterintuitive that essential oils can help to clear oily skin. However, people have been getting good results with these treatments for years upon end. Juniper berry, chamomile, cedarwood, and lavender oils, to name a few, have worked wonders. Add them to water to make a rinse for your face after you wash it.
Skin problems aren’t new to the world. Using essential oils to treat them isn’t new either. However, because these treatments were ignored for so long, they are new to many people now.
Household Uses for Essential Oils
Like it or not, homes can be full of bad smells, germs, and dirt. The first products people usually turn to are strong chemical solutions. These aren’t particularly healthy, and can have unpleasant odors of their own. Perhaps a better type of product to reach for is essential oils. Essential oils can be used for many different household problems. Tea tree and lavender oils are considered to be highly effective anti-bacterial essential oils. A few drops of either can be added to water to rinse any area you want to disinfect.
These can include sinks, countertops, and bathrooms. You can make an antiseptic spray by putting the water with essential oils in it into a spray bottle. Spray it around bathrooms, kitchens, and sickrooms.
Sometimes, you don’t mind so much using the chemical cleaners. You just want a fresher, more natural smell to linger when you finish. If this is the case, you can make a rinse to use following regular cleaning. To make the rinse, add four drops of any essential oils you like to a pint of water. Then, simply rinse the area with this after you have cleaned. You can use essential oils like pine, lavender, wintergreen, rosemary, orange, or any others you like.
If you want to make the air in your home smell fresh and sweet, simmer fruit peels or any essential oils in water on the stove. Keep it at a gentle heat. The scent will permeate the whole house.
You may have seen scented toilet paper rollers for sale in your local store. You can use the same idea only make it better with essential oils. Put a few drops of essential oils on the cardboard tube that holds the toilet paper. Every time it’s spun, a fresh aroma will be released.
You can easily make a homemade carpet cleaner if you have a few essential oils. You need rosewood oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil. Or, if you like, use any other combination of essential oils. You mix this with baking soda or cornstarch. Sprinkle the mixture on the carpet and vacuum fifteen minutes later. Commercial floor cleaning product makers are aware that lemon and orange oils are excellent for cleaning. There are many products out there that use them. If you have essential oils of lemon and orange, you can mix them with some hot water and soap. You will have the same thing-minus any chemicals.
Dryer sheets all seem to have the same unnatural trying-to-be-fresh smell. You can make your own equivalent of dryer sheets using essential oils. Take a small towel and put a few drops of your favorite essential oils on it. Put it in the dryer with your clothes. Tea tree essential oil helps to get rid of mold in the household. Lemon oil can be used as a disinfectant. Eucalyptus oil can be added to the laundry when you are washing bedding. This will help to control dust mites.
Essential oils have a place in the household that is both practical and aesthetic. They can make your home clean on a molecular level and pleasant to your sense of smell. The more you use essential oils, the more they will become a part of your home life.
The Use of Essential Oils for Pets
When people have success using essential oils for healing and rejuvenation, they automatically assume they can use them on their pets as well. Sometimes this is indeed true. However, it takes special knowledge of animals to know when and how to use essential oils for pets. With many pets, you should avoid the use of essential oils altogether. Birds especially are susceptible to severe reactions to essential oils. You should not even diffuse these oils in the air near birds. They can have respiratory problems that can be deadly.
Cats are another subject. There is much controversy over whether you can use essential oils with cats. Many purveyors of these oils recommend frankincense for ear mites and peppermint for respiratory troubles. These are just a couple of the remedies suggested for the ailments of cats. Veterinarians, though, explain that essential oils do more harm than good to cats. Oils like peppermint are too “hot” for cats. Their sensitive skin will burn. Also, any essential oils that a cat takes in, whether it be through the air or through the skin, must be eliminated. This is done through the cat’s liver.
The problem is that a cat’s liver is more delicate than a human’s or that of other animals, as well. It takes some forty eight hours for the cat’s liver to process and expel the essential oils. This can lead to a build-up and finally to liver damage.
Dogs are more suited to the use of essential oils, but you should still never use them without diluting them. If you use a reasonable amount of caution, you can use essential oils to help dogs with many common problems. You can massage the essential oils mixed with carrier oils into the dog’s skin. Use an area of the skin that is the least hairy. You can also use a diffuser in a room twice a day and let your dog breathe the air from it. Since a dog’s liver is hardier, this will not damage it. You can use a mister to spray around the areas where the dog stays, too.
Many dogs will develop arthritis as they get older. Sometimes owners will even euthanize their dogs just so they won’t have to suffer with this ailment. However, there are essential oils that can help your dog live a more comfortable life. Some are juniper, pine, rosemary, and birch oils. When your dog becomes ill, it can mean damage to your flooring and furnishings. Besides that, you don’t like to see your dog suffering. For vomiting, you can use essential oils of lavender, tarragon, or peppermint. You can use a cinnamon oil massage for diarrhea.
Dogs often get what are known as “hot spots.” These are raw areas of skin where the fur has either been chewed or worn off. They can be very difficult to treat, and vets have several antidotes for them. If you want to try essential oils, try Melrose and lavender. They both clean the wound and reduce inflammation.
Care should be taken when using essential oils on or around animals. Some pets just can’t take it. Yet, for those pets that are able to tolerate them, they can be a great help. I am definitely not an expert so make sure you do your due diligence in researching essential oils and animals.
My personal favorite book on all things essential oils is called The complete book of essential oils and aromatherapy. With over 800 recipes, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about essential oils and their uses.
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