I love essential oils. Can I get that T-shirt? I discovered them about 3 years ago after a friend introduced me to the essential oil company, Young Living and urged me to attend a class with her. I happily went, not really knowing what I was in for. I sat amazed as the benefits and properties of essential oils unfolded. I had worked with many skin care lines before that had essential oils in them but they were never in the “spot light”. It was always some anti aging chemical that was the selling point. Once I started using essential oils on my family I was hooked. I had had my first home birth behind me and was avoiding vaccinations but now with the help of essential oils, I could really support my beliefs and protect my girls. Below is my summary of essential oils. The internet is swimming with information on this subject and it can be quite overwhelming. Hopefully this will clear things up and convince you essential oils are where it’s at!
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oil is the volatile liquid of a plant. It is highly concentrated and contains hundreds of chemical constituents that make an oil antiviral, anti bacterial, anti microbial, antiseptic, anti parasitic, anti fungal and anti inflammatory. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to heal and protect against sickness. Not only can essential oils be used to heal the body, they also are known to have effects on the mind. Many oils can uplift, revive or relax. The molecular makeup of essential oils is so small that they can quickly and easily penetrate to the lower layers of the skin and move quickly into the blood stream. They work on a cellular level and because of this they are highly effective.
What to Look for When Selecting Essential Oils
Essential oils are extracted from a plant in two ways. The first and most common way is through steam distillation. When oils are steam distilled, very little heat is used. Heat will greatly affect the purity of the oil. The second way to extract oil from a plant is by cold pressing. Only citrus oils can be cold pressed. When choosing essential oils, do your research first. Many oil companies dilute their essential oils or use improper distillation practices. Both practices render the oil ineffective. When choosing an essential oil, look for words like “100% steam distilled”, “therapeutic grade”, “pharmaceutical grade” and “certified pure pharmagrade (cppg)”. There are very few essential oil companies I trust. Spark Naturals is my essential oil supplier of choice. Their oils are properly extracted and undiluted.
Essential Oils for Skin
Because essential oils work on a cellular level, they help oxygenate the skin-giving the skin a healthy glow.
Some common essential oils are great to add to your skin care recipes. Lavender and chamomile are great for sensitive skin. Tea tree otherwise known as Melaluca, works well for blemished and/or oily skin. Frankincense helps with scaring, age spots and moisturizing. Peppermint revives dull skin.
I personally believe certain oils can be used undiluted on the skin, but my view is controversial. You must use your own knowledge and common sense in this matter. When it comes to skin care, I prefer to add them to my recipes. Adding essential oils to carrier oils such as coconut oil, olive oil or sweet almond oil make a highly effective moisturizer.
Storing Essential Oils
Because essential oils are highly volatile, they must be kept in a dark glass bottle. They will dissolve plastic and react to light. Store your oils in a dark cabinet being careful not to expose them to light or heat. When stored properly they have a very long shelf life. In fact, I have never had an oil go rancid.
Essential Oil Precautions
- When using essential oils on babies or children I always dilute with a carrier oil such as coconut oil unless I am applying oils to the bottoms of the feet.
- Keep out of eyes.
- Essential oils are toxic to cats, but can be used on other animals.
- Remember that certain oils are photosensitive and can cause dark pigmentation or irritation if exposed to sunlight. These oils are lemon, neroli, grapefruit, bergamot, lime. All thought sweet orange and tangerine are not said to be photo toxic I am still cautious.
- If you are pregnant certain essential oils can be toxic to the fetus or cause you to go into labor early.
During the first trimester you must be careful to dilute essential oils because most of them have detoxifying qualities. The following oils should be avoided
- Clary Sage
Once you are full term many of the essential oils I listed above can actually help facilitate labor and aid in recovery. I hit 40 weeks and slathered jasmine all over my ankles to induce labor-It works!
During breast feeding taking fennel or basil can increase milk production while peppermint, jasmine, spearmint and sage can reduce your supply.
*It is not possible to have an allergic reaction to essential oils because they do not contain protein which is what causes a histamine reaction. If you become red from an essential oil this usually means your skin is detoxifying.*