How to Use Essential Oils
Learning how to use essential oils does NOT have to be overwhelming. What you'll find is as many different opinions on essential oils as you'll find ways to use them. You'll also find lots of differing benefits, properties or oils, and experiences within the field of essential oils. This is partially because of the differences between different oils (different brands or varieties come with different properties and even precautions), and partially because of a divide in philosophies and training.
It's important to understand that each oil can NOT be used in the same way! Do your research carefully on each oil, use your judgement and start small.
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In addition to adding excellent flavor and unlimited health benefits to your food, drink and cooking there are endless ways to use essential oils around your home and every day family health. Remember that most oils aside from Arnica and Eucalyptus are normally safe to ingest.
The five basic applications of essential oil uses are listed here along a few very simple guidelines that can make your incorporation of these incredible oils easy and safe. Whether you're new to essential oils or not, this will hopefully help you learn some new ways to incorporate the oils into your life to support the health and wellness of your entire home in safe and effective ways.
Personal judgment matters. Your judgment (and your nose) is usually one of the best guides to learning how to use essential oils. Trust yourself and your medical practitioner. You know more than you think you do about what's right and wrong for your body, and with very little trial and error you'll get better at discerning between your intuition, your needs, and everything else./
Safe doesn't mean foolproof. Even drinking water used the wrong way can be harmful. And the oils we use are potent. Know your body, your sensitivities, the properties, and the precautions of the oil you're about to use, and ease yourself in to what you use by diluting, patch testing, and starting with smaller amounts and more conservative uses, especially if your immune system or health is compromised.
Learning how to use essential oils takes time and common sense, but can be implemented easily when done so wisely. Again, start conservatively, use less first, and don't overdo it.
Essential oils are usually used in four ways:
- Externally (around the home)
- You can add essential oils to your beverages, foods and recipes. However, do not ingest arnica oil and eucalyptus oil. A little oil goes a long ways. The best way to add to foods and use a toothpick, dip it in the essential oil and swirl the oil into your food, recipe and beverage. Taste it and see if you need more.
Here's how to use essential oils with aromatic applications:
A good diffuser should use cool or room temperature air or ultrasonic vibrations to diffuse the oil into the air, which help the oil molecules remain air-bound for several more hours and do not affect the structure of the oil through heat, which can diminish the quality of the oil.
Directly inhaling the oil can be done by holding the bottle of essential oil a few inches from the nose and breathing in the aroma, or by adding a drop the the hands and cupping them over the mouth and nose. (For example, using this technique can be used with grounding or calming oils.) It is important to note that constantly opening and closing your bottle does exposure it to air and increase the oxidation rate, so diffusing is not only better for your bottle of oil, but you would likely use less throughout the day too. Some oils should also be diluted before direct inhalation.
Adding a drop to a handkerchief, cotton ball, small square of fabric, shirt collar, hair, pillow case, etc can all be beneficial. (Try this with vetiver when you want to promote deeper sleep!)
Hot Water Vapor: Heat a pot of water (not boiling), add 1-3 drops of essential oil, place a towel over your head while leaning over the water, and inhale the steam. (For example, try this with eucalyptus for respiratory health.)
Humidifier: Just like a diffuser, cool air humidifiers are best. Be aware that essential oils can damage plastic components over time, so choosing one made for essential oils is best. (Try a purifying oil to clean the air.)
Fan, Vent, Etc: Just like with the indirect inhalation, you can add the oil to cloth and place it in a vent or even in front of a fan. (A good use for this ispeppermint and ginger in the car to diminish motion sickness.)
Perfume or Cologne Smells good and is safer and healthier for your body (unlike normal chemical-based perfumes or antiperspirants). For perfume or cologne, add a 1 drop or a small dab to the wrists, behind the ears, or dissolve 10 drops to 1-3 tsp of distilled water or alcohol to mist on the body or clothing.
Natural Room Deodorizer: Use the sprays that we offer.
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Can we cook with essential oils?
Yes you can definitely cook with essential oils. Ancient civilizations and other countries have been cooking with essentials since the history of the world. Modern civilization seem to have lost these traditions for aroma, flavors and nutritional benefits due to processed foods, synthetic substitutes and convenient foods. Prepackaged foods, frozen and microwavable meals and long-lasting processed foods are made with preservatives, chemicals and cheap fillers. Therefore, the modern society seems to think that cooking with essential oils is a new thing or isn't safe.
Reality is essential oils are used in many common products such as soda, toothpaste, desserts and more. It takes such a small amount of essential oils in foods because they are pure and concentrated. You get lots more flavor and nutritional benefits from oils than you do with fresh or dried herbs, plants and spices.
Are essential oils safe for ingesting; are they toxic?
Most therapeutic essential oils are ingestible and edible. They are from plants. With the small amount of essential oils needing in cooking, there isn't much risk in toxicity and they are harmless. However, it's important to be aware of the potential toxicity of some EO. When eating, or ingesting, these compounds, they go into the blood stream and then to the organs. It's proven that essential oils are absorbed directly into the blood stream then through the blood-brain barrier. Then they attach to the different receptors in the central nervous system and deliver their beneficial effects and results. After being metabolized, they must be cleared out of the body through the kidneys or breathed out as carbon dioxide through the lungs. Because the metabolizing of these plant compounds is very quick so there is very little risk.
Large doses of certain essential oils can be toxic. But when cooking or ingesting, you need such a small amount to get the flavors and nutritional benefits. Even if you use too much, the risk of toxicity is still very low because the flavor would be so strong and terrible, that you wouldn't even want to eat it! So only use a drop or two when cooking. In fact, some of the stronger and hot oils such as cinnamon, peppermint and clove, you only need such a tiny amount that using a toothpick dipped in these oils is plenty for use in cooking.
What might happen if I ingest too much essential oils?
Some EO may burn the mucous membrans of the throat, esophagus and oral cavity. Too much may aggravate the digestive tract, which leads to reflux. They may make medications useless or cause complications such as seizures. Some may cause diarrhea, vomiting and or nausea. They may increase liver enzymes and may also interfere with anesthesia.
What are possible long-term problems of ingesting essential oils? Kidney and liver problems can arise when using long term. Fatty liver disease, liver failure, liver cancer and enlargemnt of the liver are all risk factors.
Which essential oils can be used in cooking? Use 100% pure therapeutic-grade oils for ingesting. The FDA has “Generally Recognized as Safe” list that you can refer to. The recommended amounts for ingesting is a range of 1 to 3 drops, 1 to 3 times per day. But keep in mind, even some of the oils listed on the GRAS list, you should be careful with. One example is wintergreen oil. Although this is often added to foods, we do not recommend oral ingestion of wintergreen. Be sure to get the advice of a qualified professional health practitioner when ingesting oils.
What are some of the oils listed on the GRAS that are okay to ingest?
The common names for some of the essential oils that the FDA has on their GRAS list include: alfafa, allspice, almond (bitter; and no prussic acid), ambrette seed, angelica root (not for diabetics), angelica seed, angelica stem, anise, balm (lemon balm), basil, bay leaves, bergamot, bitter almond (free from prussic acid), cacao, chamomile (flowers), caraway, cardamon, carrot, cassia bark, celery seed, cherry (wild, bark), chicory, cinnamon bark, cinnamon leaf, citronella, citrus peels, clover, coffee, cola nut, coriander, cumin, Curacao orange peel (orange, bitter peel), dandelion, elder flowers, fennel (sweet), geranium, ginger, grapefruit, guava, hickory bark, horehound, hops, horsemint, hyssop, jasmine, juniper (berries), kola nut, laurel berries, laurel leaves, lavender, lavandin, lemon, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemon peel, lime, linden flowers, locust bean, lupulin, mace, mandarin, marjoram (sweet), menthol, molasses (extract), mustard, naringin, neroli (bigarade), nutmeg, onion, orange (bitter, flowers), orange (bitter, peels), orange leave, orange (sweet), orange (sweet, flowers), orange (sweet, peel), palmarosa, paprika, parsley, pepper (black), pepper (white), peppermint, petitgrain, petitgrain lemon, petitgrain mandarin or tangerine, pimenta, pimenta leaf, pomegranate, prickly ash bark, rose absolute, rose (ott of roses, attar of roses), rose buds, rose flowers, rose fruit (hips), rose geranium), rose leaves, rosemary, saffron, sage, sage (Greek), sage (Spanish), St. John's bread, savory (summer) savory (winter), spearmint, spike lavender, tamarind, tangerine, tarragon, tea, thyme, thyme (white), thyme (wild or creeping), tuberose, turmeric, vanilla, violet flowers, violet leaves, violet leaves absolute, wild cherry bark and ylang ylang.