Essential oils are so simple to use, and yet they have a complex array of potential uses and methods of application. You can choose a single oil such as lavender, a pre-mixed essential oils blend, or you can pair certain oils together for an enhanced therapeutic experience. The oils themselves have a wide array of beneficial uses including physical, emotional and mental wellness applications. When it comes to using essential oils, there are three main methods and I always like to highlight the fourth, which is cleaning with essential oils.
The three main ways to use essential oils are:
AROMATIC: This is by far the simplest method of application and yet often the most under appreciated! This can be as easy as opening a bottle of oils and breathing in the aromatic essence of the plant. It may also involve adding a drop of oil to your hands and breathing it in, or adding several different oils together into a diffuser and evoking a response of relaxation or stimulation on an entire room of people. The process of smelling and communicating the power of that aroma to the brain is called olfaction and science is just beginning to understand the extreme power of this therapeutic method of application. In fact, researchers have recently discovered that we actually have olfactory receptors located in areas of the body besides our nose! This means that the aromatic use of essential oils may have even more potential than we previously thought.
TOPICAL: Because essential oils are fat-soluble, when you apply them directly to the skin, they can have a localized effect in the area that they were applied to and be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream for a systemic effect on the entire body. This is where quality comes into play. What you put on your body, you absorb into your body so it is extremely important that you know the exact contents of the essential oils that you are using with yourself and your loved ones. You can read more about quality here. Some high quality oils can be applied NEAT, which means that they can be used on the body without requiring any dilution. Other oils can only be used NEAT when you apply them to the bottoms of the feet, the safest place for application in babies, children and the elderly but a great place for applying oils regardless of age. Still other oils should ONLY be used alongside a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Similarly to choosing high quality oils, be sure to use only the most pure oils as carrier oils since they will also be absorbed into the body. The last point to remember when applying oils topically is to make sure that you take the time to massage the essential oil thoroughly into the skin to ensure absorption and to increase blood flow to the area so that the oil is rapidly distributed via the bloodstream.
INTERNAL: We all consume plants in various forms such as dried herbs, teas, and of course fresh for therapeutic uses, to change the taste of food, and for overall health. For all of these exact same reasons (and more), essential oils can be used internally as well. In fact, we already are consuming essential oils in many of the foods we are eating. Internal usage is the most potent use, so it is important that certain precautions be taken when enjoying essential oils internally. Essential oils can be applied under the tongue (sublingually), gargled in the mouth, swallowed in a gelcap, added to tea or food, or in water. Because heat can damage the sensitive molecule within essential oils, it is best to add them after cooking and just prior to consumption. A little bit goes a long way! Many times, when I am using essential oils in a recipe, I will take a toothpick and dip it in the essential oil and add just that tiny amount to an entire recipe. And, because of this extreme potency, essential oils add a burst of flavour to whatever they are added to. Internal use may not be for everyone and we definitely want to follow safety guidelines around amounts and frequency. Here is a great chart that outlines some usage guidelines:
And finally, to learn more about one of my favourite uses for essential oils…check out the DIY section on cleaning!