By Jeanne Drennan, OT/L
The sweet smell of lavender; the clean scent of lemon; the invigorating aroma of peppermint. These are just a few of my favorite essential oils. I was hooked on oils before they became trendy. In fact, at the time of my immersion into the amazing world of essential oils and aromatherapy, their therapeutic value was considered a little bit “out there.”
The year was 1998. I was visiting with a mom from my son’s kindergarten class, when he came in with a cut on his knee. Instead of reaching for an over-the-counter antibiotic cream, my friend brought out tea tree oil and tended to the wound. To my amazement, the cut healed beautifully.
To say I was intrigued is an understatement. Growing up the daughter of a pharmacist, prescription medications were a mainstay in our home, so this new way of approaching health and wellness, albeit completely foreign, resonated with me deeply.
Fast forward to 2018: Essential oils and herbal remedies are now not only my first line of defense when illness strikes but they have become critical to my family’s good health and general well-being. I also substitute these oils for many household and beauty products.
According to Anandaapothecary.com, essential oils are, in the simplest of terms, “concentrated volatile aromatic compounds produced by plants—the easily evaporated essences that give plants their wonderful scents—more akin to an alcohol than what we commonly think of as oil.”
However, they are not all created equal, and one must take care when deciding which oils to use. That is because, as Ananda states, “Producing essential oils of the highest-grade is truly an art form. It takes a delicate balance of time, temperature, and pressure during the distillation process to ensure the complete range of molecular components is extracted.”
However, relatively few essential oils are produced in this manner. Neither are essential oils regulated by the FDA or subject to any other kind of oversight. As such, buyer education is a must. One of the best marks of a high-quality oil, one that is produced by a top-notch distillation process, is an aromatic bouquet. The oils sold on the Ananda website fall under that category. Other high-quality oils include those made by Mountain Rose Herbs and Edens Garden, which are available online. DoTerra and Young Living are good choices as well and are available through independent distributors.
The therapeutic properties of essential oils are seemingly endless. Here are just a few benefits:
- Mentally stimulating
- Stimulate the regeneration of tissue
- Help cleanse and purify the body
- Reduce muscular and joint pain while increasing circulation
- Calm the body and the mind
Essential oils can be used topically, in a blend, mixed with a carrier oil, or diffused into the air. They can also be taken internally, but only the highest quality, purest oils should be ingested, so do your research.
My basic care kit includes about 12 essential oils. The following are my top six, with a brief summary of their uses.
Tea Tree: If I had to choose just one essential oil that I wouldn’t be without, it would definitely be tea tree oil. My go-to antiseptic, tea tree is said to be 100 times more powerful than carbolic acid. It’s an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. It can be used to treat candida and other infections, such as ringworm and athletes foot, and it works great to mitigate the effects of sunburn and to calm acne. Tea Tree can be added to your household cleansers to increase their purifying action or used directly for a more powerful effect. A drop of tea tree mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut, almond, or vitamin E can be used to help clear general skin rash, eczema, athlete’s foot, or psoriasis. For canker sores or swollen gums, mix two drops in water and gargle/swish up to three times per day, being careful not to swallow.
Lavender: Most commonly used as a sleep aid because of its calming effect, lavender is also used for burns and scalds. It’s a natural antibiotic, antiseptic, antidepressant, sedative, and detoxifier. Lavender enhances immune function, promotes healing, and prevents scarring by stimulating the cells of a wound to regenerate more quickly. A drop massaged into the soles of your feet at night will help you sleep well.
Peppermint: Who doesn’t love the crisp, clean scent of peppermint? Long known for easing digestive woes, it also has a healing effect on the respiratory and circulatory systems. Peppermint acts in anti-inflammatory and antiseptic capacities as well, aiding in indigestion, flatulence, halitosis, flu, varicose veins, headache, migraine, skin irritation, rheumatism, toothache, and fatigue. Some users also claim it helps keep mice, fleas, and ants away. Rubbing a drop or two on the back of your neck when working outside on a sunny day can not only keep you cool, it can also help keep the bugs away and stop allergic reactions. You can even add a drop of lemon for added protection.
Chamomile: Most people know that sipping a cup of this light and lovely tea will help calm the nervous system and promote healthy sleep, however, the essential oil does this and more. Chamomile is an antibacterial, antiseptic, disinfectant, and anti-inflammatory agent. It is widely used for rheumatism, teething, burns, sunburns, psoriasis, eczema, asthma, hay fever, diarrhea, sprains and strains, nausea, fever, and all nervous and depressive states. Put a drop or two on your palms, rub vigorously, and then inhale deeply three times to bring about calmness and clarity.
Lemon: When life gives you lemons…use them to purify your water! Lemon is an incredibly versatile essential oil. Not only is it antiseptic and antibacterial, it’s a tonic to the lymphatic system and a stimulant to the digestive tract and liver. Lemon can be used to treat insect bites, tension headaches, verrucas and plantar warts, acne, and hemorrhoids. I use a few drops of lemon essential oil in the washing machine to boost the detergent. It helps eliminate more stubborn odors and makes whites whiter. I also mix lemon with distilled water in a spray bottle to use as a kitchen counter disinfectant.
Eucalyptus: This amazing essential oil can be used as an anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, diuretic, analgesic, deodorizer, antiviral, and decongestant. It’s effective in combating coughs, colds, cystitis, candida, diabetes, and sunburn, and it acts as an insect repellant. A drop of eucalyptus in a bowl of very hot and steamy water makes a great steam inhalation treatment to loosen nasal and sinus congestion—just cover your head with a towel and breathe in through your nose.
Many people like to blend essential oils as well. Currently, I am diffusing a blend of lavender, peppermint, and lemon to lessen the symptoms of allergies and keep my mind sharp as I write this article.
Another favorite blend is known as the Four Thieves. This mix of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary is a deodorizer and disinfectant, and it supports immune function. I mix the oils with distilled water and use it in a spray bottle as a room deodorizer. During cold and flu season I diffuse it, too. I also take it with me when we travel to spray on hotel beds, phones, remotes, etc. If anyone in the house is sick, out comes the Four Thieves!
Geranium and tea tree applied to a cold sore works as well as, if not better than, over-the-counter remedies. Begin applying as soon as you feel the tingling indicating a cold sore is coming.
For mature (wink) skin, my hands-down favorite blend is frankincense, tea tree, lavender, rose, and rosemary. And for inflamed, acne-prone skin, a mixture of tea tree, bergamot, and lavender works wonders.
This is just a peek into the world of essential oils. There is a plethora of information available on the subject. What is presented here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or prescriptive in any way. As with any medical or health intervention, please do your own due diligence and consult your healthcare professional if necessary.
Most Recent Articles
- 6 December, 2019 Needlework by Administrator
- 19 June, 2017 More than a Workout by Administrator
- 19 June, 2017 The Detox Dilemma by Administrator
- 8 May, 2017 Under the Needle, Not the Knife by Administrator
- 4 May, 2017 A Herbal Bounty in the East Mountains by Administrator
- 13 June, 2016 Why Are We So Tired? by Guest
- 12 June, 2012 Herbal Remedies of the East Mountains by Guest
- 12 January, 2012 Give the Gift of Massage by Guest