A Beginners Guide To Essential Oils
Lately I have been dabbling and learning more about essential oils and aromatherapy and let me tell you, there is A LOT to learn! In this blog post I am going to share some essential oils basics which I feel is important to know as a beginner and also talk to Oil Garden Aromatherapy Educator and Specialist Pat Princi-Jones to get a better understanding.
A lot of the information I am about to share I have learnt about through the book “The Essential Guide To Essential Oils” by Roberta Wilson. I purchased this from my local bookstore and have found it so helpful and informative - it also contains a comprehensive list of oils, what they can be used for and different blends you can try as remedies.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essentials Oils are essences that are extracted from the flowers, bark, leaves, gums, rinds, roots, seeds, stalks and stems of certain aromatic plants. They are the heart or soul of a plant and what gives plants their scent.
There are a few different extraction methods the most common being Steam Distillation but Cold Pressing, Enfleurage and Solvent Extraction are also used.
When purchasing essential oils it is important to be mindful that there are synthetic imitations on the market. A key indicator is often price as Pure Essential Oils are more expensive than synthetic fragrances and blends. Synthetic scents are made using petroleum byproducts in laboratories and don’t have the great therapeutic benefits to that of a pure essential oil.
Pure essential oils are highly concentrated so it is important to know how to use them safely so not to cause harm to yourself or others.
HOW CAN I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?
There are a variety of ways you can use your essential oils but here are a few of the most common:
This is my favourite and one of the easiest ways to use essential oils. Add 5-6 drops of your favourite oil to a diffuser, turn it on and allow the mist to fill the air and your senses. Not only does it freshen the air but depending on what oil blend I use it can allow me to get a sounder sleep, breathe easier and enhance my overall mood.
Add 2-8 drops of essential oils to a bath of warm water and relax and unwind to the soothing scents.
When you want to apply pure essential oils to the skin is it important to use a carrier oil to dilute the oil for safe application. Because of their high concentration, a pure essential oil applied without a carrier oil may irritate or burn the skin.
Carrier oils are extracted from nuts, kernels, seeds and other part of plants. Some common carrier oils include Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Hemp Oil, Sunflower Oil and Almond Oil. The highest quality carrier oils are organic and unrefined food-grade oils that are suitable for human consumption.
By mixing a Pure Essential Oil with a Carrier Oil not only is it safer to use but it can also cover a greater area of skin and spread more evenly.
Once mixed you can then use it topically to massage onto your body or as a remedy.
Essential Oils are commonly found in skincare and can improve the condition of your skin. Be sure to research which essential oils are best suited to your skin type or troubles before making your own natural skincare and cosmetics.
If you prefer to leave it to the experts a simple skincare blend you can make yourself is a face mist. I love this recipe from the Oil Garden website which is super easy to make.
Choose 3 essential oils. Add a total of 5 drops to a 100ml spritz bottle filled with water. Shake well before spritzing the face and surrounding air. Avoid eye area.
While there are some essential oils which can be ingested for medicinal purposes I would highly recommend speaking to your doctor or health care professional before doing this.
To help me get a better understanding of Essential Oils I spoke to Oil Garden Aromatherapy Educator and Specialist Pat Princi-Jones who answered some of my questions:
What advice would you give to someone starting out with essential oils?
Follow the rules and use as directed and you will reap enormous, unimaginable benefits. Like with any learning endeavour, it takes time and practice, so start with simple recipes and do patch tests, don’t ingest unless prescribed by a clinician and don’t use neat on the skin. More than likely, once you start you get hooked and there is no turning back. That’s what happened to me. Given all the fakes and copies in products today, the most important thing is to choose pure essential oils, not synthetic copies if you want therapeutic results! Fakes just don’t cut it. So make sure you go with a reputable, trusted Aussie brand that has been specialising in Aromatherapy oils for decades. Enjoy.
What are your top essential oils for beginners and why?
A good starter kit might include the following oils. These cover many of today’s symptoms.
Lavender: an all-rounder and loved by most. Its herbaceous floral scent is calming and soothing to the body and the skin. Loved by babies and the elderly too and has been useful to promote sleep throughout the ages.
Lemon: A burst of lemony freshness during bouts of cold and flu symptoms, fights germs and builds immunity.
Geranium: For balance during mood swings, menopause and life changes. Settling and calming for all the family.
Peppermint: An enlivening menthol scent for digestive complaints. Perfect for headaches and tummy upset after a big meal or long flight.
Rosemary: An awakening vibrant aroma for memory boost and to relieve exhaustion. A few drops in a teaspoon of carrier oil will also ease joint pain.
Ylang ylang: Apart from its renowned aphrodisiac qualities and narcotic scent, this oil also reduces heart rate and is therefore calming to the cns. A few drops may help with anxiety related symptoms. It is said to increase self-esteem as it calms yet nurtures the human spirit. Combine with lavender for a gentle mix.
Australian Sandalwood: This oil from the trunk of the tree is grounding and strengthening to the cns. It is an antiseptic for the skin, fights germs, calms and stills the mind and is even gently sensual especially if blended with ylang ylang. If the price tag is not to your purse, then use cedar wood in its place.
Are there any precautions you should take when using essential oils?
Keep in mind there are over 200 oils for use in aromatherapy, and each carries its own set of rules. And some oils have more than others. So always read manufacturer’s instructions as they will identify any cautions along with industry regulations. A reputable, trustworthy supplier must by Australian law, provide this information based on the oils in question. The most common are adults only, avoid citrus in the sun, if pregnant take the advice of a practitioner. Do not use neat on the skin as some oils may cause irritation. Always dilute in carrier oil such as coconut and do not ingest oils without the advice of a registered clinician.
With so many oils available on the market, how can people ensure they are purchasing pure essential oils?
Essential oils are natural extracts from various parts of aromatic plants. Once extracted, they take on the therapeutic properties and distinct aroma of each plant. They are highly concentrated and enhance all aspects of wellbeing. Essential oils are NOT synthetic imitations made in a lab! That means, essential oils come from plants from all over the world; where they grow best and prolifically. For instance, in Australia, we grow tea tree and eucalyptus for the world of aromatherapy.
The number one rule in aromatherapy, especially if you are seeking therapeutic results, is to choose a pure oil and not a copy. Choose a company with an established record in the therapeutic industry which has an independent testing facility as well as recognised accreditations in the country.
Do you use essential oils? What are some of your favourite blends?
*Some of these products were sent to me in exchange for a review. The products have been tried, tested and all opinions expressed are honest and my own.