Essential oils are the extracted oils from various plants and herbs that are concentrated for therapeutic benefit. They can be used to promote and maintain health, scenting your surroundings, cleaning, and even skin care.
Many ancient cultures used essential oils and had many different blends and purposes for individual oils, many of which are used today. Some were used to treat ailments or anoint the dead before burial. If they weren’t healing the sick, they were used as perfumes and household essences.
In North America essential oils are commonly used for personal use, via diffusing or topical treatment. Some people recommend internal ingestion, however, I typically avoid this due to the fact that oils can be so highly concentrated and potent they can actually cause damage to your digestive system and liver.
Here are some fun facts about essential oils:
They are also used by plants themselves. Naturally occurring essential oils in plants help with infection control, humidity control, hormonal effects, wound healing, and attracting or repelling insects, birds, and animals.
They do not feel oily; they are called "oils" because they contain the oil-soluble chemicals in the plant (usually 100 to 200 chemicals per essential oil). This complex chemistry gives essential oils their therapeutic properties and explains why different essential oils may have overlapping effects.
Here are some Essential Oil must haves:
Everyone has their own preferences and tastes as to what they enjoy, so it is a good idea to explore different types and find the ones that suit you the best. Here is a list of a few favorite, everyday essential oils and their benefits. I typically recommend either blending and diffusing or blending and mixing in a carrier oil such as almond or coconut before applying topically.
A common ingredient for household cleaning supplies due to its fresh and uplifting scent. Typically pressed from the peels and pith of lemons, the citric acid in this fruit kills bacteria and provides a fresh, purifying odor. Obviously it’s a great oil for use in cleaning the kitchen and can be used on just about any culinary tool, but Lemon oil can also be used to clean clothing.
For personal use, lemon can be used topically as a skin treatment due to it being a source of d-limonene, a common ingredient in cosmetic products. Limonene promotes circulation, and helps with wrinkles and toning. Lemon oil is an anti-anxiety/anti-stress oil and can be added to blends or used alone to lift your mood
One of the most common oils, familiar to nearly everyone, peppermint oil is used in everything from toothpaste, to chewing gum and body wash.
It has antiseptic properties and is powerful, hence its inclusion in nearly all of our personal care products.
Peppermint can also be used as a digestive aid and is also helpful for headaches and fevers.
Topically, peppermint oil is great for sore muscles. Menthol is derived from peppermint and similar oils. It is often used for physical aches as a muscle relaxant and for its cooling effect.
The scent of it can also act as a stimulant that clears the head when pain is the only thing you can focus on – this can also give you a pick-me-up when you’re tired.
This is a great essential oil to be used as a topical muscle relaxant and respiratory remedy; that’s why it’s used in vapor medicines like Vicks.
Eucalyptus oil has antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is beneficial to those suffering from bronchitis, sinusitis, congestion, and even asthma. (it is a main component in the Cold Prairie Winter blend for this reason)
It can also induce mental clarity and boost your immune system. It’s truly a multi-purpose oil.
Rosemary oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is also commonly found in health and beauty products, due to its varied medicinal constituents.
We know rosemary is used most commonly in cooking, but this herb’s medicinal value is also extensive. Rosemary has been known to support nerve growth, improve circulation, and even improve blood flow to hair follicles.
Rosemary can also help with dandruff, itchy scalp, and premature graying. It's beneficial for your hair and the nerve endings responsible for their growth, making it a great oil supplement for hair.
Also known as melaleuca, tea tree oil is used as an antiviral, antifungal, antibiotic, and expectorant, having some of the most medicinal properties out of any of the others. It even has cancer fighting properties as it has been shown to slow the growth of tumors in mice.
Topically, it can be used to naturally treat skin conditions like acne, without completely drying out the skin like most treatments do and also Athlete’s foot. It is great for treating blemishes and moisturizing the skin, while also used as an effective hand sanitizer.
Probably one of the most common oils is Lavender. It is one of the most common oils for air fresheners and aromatherapy.
It can also be used in first aid applications to help treat cuts and wounds. It has antispasmodic, anti-anxiety, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, making it great for anything that we put on our skin.
For those with insomnia or anyone struggling to get to bed, lavender can help decrease anxiety and stress, while promoting drowsiness. Putting lavender oil on your sheets and pillows will help in that battle to fall asleep.
It is also another one of those oils that can ease muscle tension and provide a calming sensation that helps enhance deep slumber.