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Using essential oils

Essential oils are a wonderful addition to a first aid box or just on hand for when you need some comfort. Essential oils are absorbed into the body through the skin or inhaled as a scent and, depending upon their unique properties, they can soothe, stimulate, heal, cleanse, detoxify and beautify.

Essential oils can be used in many ways to suit your needs such as; part of a massage or therapy, added to your bath, as room diffuser, added to creams, added to candle wax, as a vapouriser, or as a body spray or a for the room.

Which essential oils should I buy?

How do I use my essential oils?

Are there some oils that I shouldn't use?

Water splashing

What is an essential oil?

Eential oils are obtained from the leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, berries, roots, sap or bark of certain plants and trees.

An essential oil may have many separate substances - those from flowers being far more complex than those from leaves.

Essential oils from flowers may have up to one hundred components whilst some leaf essential oils have just one.

The yields of essential oils vary considerably in different plants, and this is reflected in the price of the oil which also depends on the weather, time of year the plants are picked and the process used to turn the plant into an oil.

What are the therapeutic effects?

running on treadmill

The therapeutic effects of an essential oil come from the plant and are made up of hundreds of constituents, each of these interacting with each other; which it is why it is so difficult to replicate an essential oil synthetically.

The therapeutic effects may help with your digestion, nervous system, aches and pains, emotions, insect bites and stings, bruises, sleep, depression, warts, eczema, circulation, immune system, joints, skin, detoxing, muscles, calming, hair and scalp and much much more.

A pure essential oil is like a musical symphony, composed of hundreds of individual notes which in combination provide a specific therapeutic effect. If the essential oil is synthetically produced or uses low quality plants or uses a blend with just a hint of the plant you want, then you are not going to get a whole symphony, just individual notes which are not as beneficial. A plastic rose may look real and remind us of the real thing but will not have a scent or the texture of a rose.

An organic pure essential oil is the best for receiving the therapeutic properties of the oil. This will ensure you receive the full therapeutic effects and ensure your oils are not contaminated with chemicals such as fertilizer or biocides.

Pure and Natural

It is very difficult for you to tell how pure an essential oil is, so you need to buy

from a supplier who has a good reputation and a genuine interest in the quality of its range.

A more expensive oil such as Rose Otto may be bulked out with a cheaper, similar smelling oil such as geranium, or ylang-ylang bulked out with cananga oil.

Some oils may be sold already diluted with a carrier oil such as almond oil and is a way for suppliers to offer expensive oils at a more affordable price.

Blended oils are another way to reduce the cost of the oils, but you still need the purity of the oil to receive the therapeutic effects of all the oils in the blend.


Some essential oils can irritate your skin and respiratory system and may affect your circulatory, digestive, urinary and nervous system so take care and check the oil is suitable before using.

Essential oils can be very powerful and if not used as suggested on the label you may find that you have effects that you did not expect. A couple of drops Lavender can help you sleep but, putting half a bottle of drops on your pillow because you can't smell it, will keep you awake all night. Less is more.

  • Very few oils should be used directly on the skin without being been diluted first (they may cause a rash and/or irritation).

  • Do a patch test before using a new oil (see below).

  • Some oils should be avoided during pregnancy.

  • There are medical conditions, medications and medical treatments where essential oils are not advised due to side effects. Please check first.

Patch test - apply the diluted oil (1-2 drops to 2tsp carrier oil) to a small patch of skin on your inner wrist or elbow and leave for an hour to check no redness or irritation occurs on your skin and your breathing and other body functions are not affected. If there is skin or other irritations wash the oil off with plenty of warm soapy water. If the patch test is clear you may still develop sensitivity over time.

Pregnancy - amongst others basil and sage should be avoided. You should check the contraindications of any oils you use before using as different suppliers and aromatherapists will list other oils such as rosemary and camphor amongst others. The contents of blended oils should also be checked before using.

Children and babies - keep all oils out of reach of children. Children and babies should only use a quarter of the amount of oil diluted in a carrier than adults as they have much more sensitive skin. Oils such as roman chamomile and lavender may be suitable from 3-6 months.

Heart and circulation - many of the oils have a stimulating effect and so some will suggest that these are not used if you have high blood pressure or cardiac fibrillation - such as peppermint and rosemary.

If you have any medical problems, please check with your doctor first. If in any doubt, please do not use and/or see an aromatherapist to help your choose.

How to use essential oils

Nearly all essential oils should be diluted in some form. You can dilute using a carrier oil such as water, almond oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, fractionated coconut oil (remains liquid), skin cream, facial cream, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel.

  • Bath - mix 4-6 drops in total into an egg cup full of milk and add to the bath water after, you have run the bath to help the oil disperse.

  • Massage - for a single massage add 4-6 drops in total into 2 teaspoon of carrier oil and mix well

  • Room spray - add 10-20 drops in total to a plant water spray and fill with water. Spray around the room avoiding soft furnishing, wood and other delicate surfaces.

  • Personal spritzer - add 10 drops of oil in 2 teaspoon vodka, mix well then add to a small botlle of water with a spray. Shake before use. You could also add Bach Flowers to the mix.

  • Inhalations - add 3-4 drops in total into a bowl of hot water. Lean over the bowl to inhale the steam. Please take care.

Starting your essential oils collection

  • Get a good book or find a good website that has many good reviews and read up about the oils before buying.

  • Decide on the reason for buying an oil and how you are likely to use it.

  • See what other therapeutic effects it has - if not many see which oil may be good for more than one reason.

  • Buy the purist essential oil you can afford.

  • Using the oils properly, you will only need a few drops at a time.

  • Think about doing a basic online course on aromatherapy if you are going to use the oils regularly. there are many to choose from.

If there is any irritation after using essential oils

wash with plenty of warm soapy water.

If in doubt please do not use and/or see

an aromatherapist for more information.


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