Updated: Feb 16, 2019
Before I address this question, I just want to be clear about something. I'm not a doctor. I am not qualified to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Nothing I am writing here should be construed as medical advice. You are your own best advocate when it comes to your health. Do your research and empower yourself to use oils safely and wisely.
That said, there are three options when it comes to using essential oils. You can
- inhale them
- apply them to your skin,
- or ingest them.
Most people use the inhalation method - which basically means they smell their oils. You know how something like the scent of a brand new box of crayons can make you feel all smiley inside? That's your limbic system at work. Our sense of smell is connected to all sorts of brain functions - memory, emotion and motivation, for starters. I'm not going to lie - it's all very science-y and while I understand it well enough to accept it as fact, I've only had one cup of coffee this morning and I am ill-equipped to explain it to you. Ask the google machine - it will tell you.
Diffusers work great for the inhalation method. An essential oil diffuser is a small appliance that you fill with water and a few drops of oil. The diffuser uses an ultrasonic plate that vibrates and breaks the oil down into microscopic particles. The particles are picked up and carried into the atmosphere around you in a mist form. Diffusers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Many of them have led lights that change colors. My favorite one also plays music.
Let's say you don't have your diffuser handy. Like when you're at the grocery store with the kids and they are literally hanging from the cart and cartwheeling down the aisles like the world's most annoying circus acrobats.
Direct inhalation works great for those on-the-spot situations.
* Put a few drops of an oil in your hands.
* Rub your hands together.
* Cup your hands over your nose and mouth.
* Take several deep breaths.
You can also let your kids smell your hands (don't look at me like that, if you're a mom, you've done weirder things). The scent of lavender has been known to bring my youngest down from a Defcon 10 level temper-tantrum in seconds. No lie.
You can apply essential oils topically. You can either apply them "neat" (which means straight or undiluted), mixed with a carrier oil (which I'll explain in a minute), or blended into a cream or lotion.
Some oils are hot - they cause a heating or warming sensation when applied topically. These oils (like cinnamon, clove, oregano, thyme, etc.) should always be diluted with a carrier oil. A carrier oil is an oil that is thicker and less absorbent than an essential oil. Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil and grapeseed oil are all carrier oils. My favorite is avocado oil - it is light, unscented, not super expensive, and has a decent shelf-life.
Other oils, like lavender, are mild and can be applied neat. However, you should always test a small patch of skin first, to make sure you don't have a reaction. Every body chemistry is different, so what works for me might not work for someone else.
One of the ways I apply oils topically is to the bottoms of my feet. Young Living has an immune-support blend called Thieves, which I use for myself and my kids to help keep us well. We either diffuse Thieves at night, or we mix some with a carrier oil in a roller bottle and roll it on the bottoms of our feet before bed. You can make your own rollers, or you can buy them directly from Young Living.
Ingestion is one of those kind of controversial essential oil topics. Some say without reservation that it is safe and effective. The French are known to use essential oils in their cooking. Many of the Young Living supplements we use are infused with essential oils.
However, there are also schools of thought that say ingesting oils is unsafe. This is one of those areas where you really need to do your research and advocate for your own health. Young Living has a whole line of Vitality oils that are FDA approved as "GRAS" - Generally Regarded As Safe - for ingestion.
Personally, I choose not to make my own essential oil concoctions for ingesting, but I do trust Young Living's oil-infused supplements. And I put Thieves in my tea when I feel under the weather-y. Works wonders for me!
If all this has sparked your curiosity and you'd like to know more, you can always email me questions. If you've read enough and you know you'd like to start using essential oils too, check out the next post on how and where to buy.