I’ve recently gotten interested in the benefits of essential oils. It hasn’t happened overnight and I’ve only slowly started to use them. The problem is the wealth of information out there concerning these oils can be really overwhelming. I hope this blog helps to relieve some overwhelming feelings that others may have as well.
What are essential oils and why even bother with them? Essential oils are extracted from plants through steaming, distillation or cold pressed methods. This means they come straight from the source and they have been used for therapeutic means well before modern day medicine. Note: When buying, make sure it is a therapeutic grade oil and NEVER synthetic. Since they are a highly concentrated product, we only need to use a couple of drops at a time. They can be breathed in, right through the nose or through a diffuser, used topically or even digested. The latter two can get really tricky for young children, so please use caution and do your own research for your comfort level. I have never had my children ingest any oil and I have only used essential oil that has been blended in a carrier oil on them. (A carrier oil is how we dilute essential oils for topical use and they come in a wide variety to choose from: sweet almond oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil are just a few of them). I have read that since children respond very well to low amounts of essential oils, use only half of the amount recommended for adults.
This time of year when the seasons change, the range in temperatures and weather can breed a lot of sickness. I fully believe that Vitamin D, Vitamin C and probiotics are wonderful as a first line of defense for the immune system (plenty of supported medical research out there). Essential oils can also be used as a line of defense due to their anti-viral, anti-bacteria, and/or their anti-microbial properties. My husband recently came down with a nasty cold while we were stuck indoors due to snow. I had either bergamot oil (an anti-viral) or lemon oil (an anti-bacterial with some anti-viral properties) running in a diffuser. With the lemon, I also added peppermint oil as a mixture known to enhance memory and concentration since we still had to continue with school work. I used 2 drops of peppermint and 3 drops of lemon with my diffuser, but you should always follow the directions that the manufacturer provides. The bergamot went nicely with lavender oil in the diffuser at bedtime. I also made my own hand sanitizer spray with 3 tbsp. witch hazel (can use water), 2 tsp of almond oil, 10 drops melaleuca oil, and 8 drops lemon oil in a fingertip sprayer from Walmart.
Keep in mind that most essential oils have some anti-viral properties but the top four oils to start with are lavender, lemon, tea tree (or melaleuca) and peppermint. This is because these four also have the widest range of uses then others. If you want to get started with essential oils but are confused, as I was at first, these four are great ones to start with.
Here are a just a few uses to wet your appetite:
- Diffusing lavender, lemon and peppermint can provide allergy and breathing relief.
- Peppermint diffused alone can help improve focus and energy.
- Peppermint oil is great on the bottoms of feet to comfort and cool someone with a fever. I used this recently on my 7 year but I did dilute it with almond oil.
- Applying a drop of lavender to a bug bite or sting can stop itching and reduce swelling. I’ve also seen it noted that lavender oil is the number 1 oil for healing burns, cuts, eczema, acne, along with treating bites/stings.
- Lice do not like tea tree or melaleuca oil. A friend of mine mixes melaleuca and rosemary oil in her children’s shampoo once a week and she has avoided inviting these pesky critters during countless outbreaks in the schools.
Note: Do not use lemon or tea tree topically on children under 2. Other sources say to use sweet orange oil instead of lemon oil for children under 10 due to the potential harshness on skin. Avoid using peppermint in all forms on children under 6.
I have just scratched the surface for the many uses of essential oils. I am excited to continue my research to learn how to make my own environmentally safe cleaning products, my own skin/beauty products (anti-aging, scarring, inflammation, sore muscles, even a hair thickening shampoo) and even find uses for brain health, cancer prevention and energy. But now,please excuse me as I go find my mixture of lavender, peppermint and jojoba oil to apply to my temples and upper neck to avoid a migraine I feel is threatening me…