Essential oils were used in folk medicine throughout history, dating back to use by ancient civilizations BCE. Oils have recently been gaining popularity as a natural, safe and cost-effective therapy. The use of essential oils can be another wellness technique to add to your lifestyle.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils (EOs) are not FDA approved. Unlike drugs, they are not intended to cure, diagnose, prevent, or treat diseases. However, they can be great when used in a complementary manner, as long as you are mindful of any drug interactions. When in doubt, speak with your Primary Care Physician.
Essential oils (EOs) are concentrated and are marketed to have ‘powerful health benefits.’ They contain various chemical components, in which, are absorbed by the body. Additionally, they can be absorbed by four routes via olfaction, through the skin (both externally and internally), and by ingestion. They can be used aromatically, topically, and internally. There is a whole study that focuses how EOs are absorbed, called pharmacokinetics.
Inhaling EOs is the fastest method of getting EOs into your body. Components can travel to your lungs, brain, or both. Inhalation can be direct (only to you) or indirect (to a room of people).
Direct Inhalation without steam
- Aroma sticks– add 15-20 drops EO onto the wick, place wick inside inhaler
- Aroma patches– apply patches to skin, preferably on collar bone
- Aroma packets– open packet to breath in contents
- Aroma ribbons– can be attached to anything, such as pillows for a comfort aroma
- Cotton balls– add 1-5 drops of EO to a cotton ball and inhale for 5-10 minutes
Direct Inhalation with steam
- Steam water– add 1-5 drops of EO to a bowl containing steaming water. Place head over bowl and place towel over your head, inhale for 10 minutes
- Room fresheners– add 1-5 drops of EO to a bowl containing hot water and place in a safe place
- Burners– fill container suspended above with water and add 1-5 drops of EO
- Fans– add 1-5 drops of EO to a pad, place inside the fan
- Humidifiers– fill container with water, place EOs on a tissue in the direct pathway of the exiting steam
- Diffusers– add 1-8 drops of EO; they deliver micron-sized essential oil droplets in the air
- Nebulizers – drops of undiluted essential oils are placed inside glass attachment, most do not use heat
- Spritzer Sprays– add essential oils in water inside a spritzer spray bottle, important to shake bottle for even distribution
- Aroma stones– they gently warm essential oils
The amount that is absorbed through your skin depends on skin permeability as well as concentration of EO used. For example, EOs that are diluted in a carrier oil (used for dilution and application) are absorbed slower than undiluted EOs. EOs are absorbed faster when the skin becomes thinner and or damaged by systemic disease, dermatological problems, injury, and dehydration. Avoid applying EOs to damaged skin, as it is absorbed more readily and can have adverse effects. Moreover, less is absorbed during periods of stress because stress results in vascular shut-down. Whereas, dilated blood vessels caused by friction from stroking or massaging, can increase EO absorption, except when the body is trying to lose heat. Always use caution if you select to apply an EO topically; some may need to be diluted, some should not be applied to certain areas, some EO’s may make your skin more sensitive, and some could even cause an adverse reaction.
What Does the Research Say?
EOs are used to treat or relieve stress, pain, dental issues, infection and/or inflammation (ex. sore throat, vaginal and urinary infections, gastrointestinal issues (ex. IBS, nausea and vomiting), insomnia, anxiety, and promote well-being. However, according to research, there is a lack of studies to support EO effectiveness. Most studies had a small sample size, which may not be reliable. There is a need for more well‐designed, large‐scale randomized controlled trials, before conclusions can be drawn and recommendations can be made for clinical use. Regardless of the insufficient amount of data regarding their effectiveness, EOs continue to be used for the healing properties all around the world.
Tips on How to Use EO's
Blending EOs is an art, as it requires training and experimentation. Typically, oils from the same botanical family blend well. The order in which the oils are blended is key to maintain desired therapeutic and chemical properties and fragrance. Your oil blend should be stored in dark-colored glass bottles. If you are not familiar with mixing, it is encouraged to layer the individual oils, by applying one at a time, rubbing it in, and then applying another oil a few seconds after.
If dilution is necessary, a carrier oil may be needed. Carrier oils are naturally derived from plant sources. They have a neutral smell and do not evaporate like essential oils, making them an great medium for dilution and application purposes. The purpose of carrier oils is to reduce the concentration and absorption rate of the EO, at the same time not changing any therapeutic properties. Dilution is especially important for infants and children.
Some examples of carrier oils include: V-6 mixing oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, arnica oil, rosehip oil, broccoli seed oil, flaxseed oil, magnesium oil, evening primrose oil, cocoa butter and shea butter.
Lastly, not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, most of them are of poor quality and are often synthetic. When you are ready to purchase essential oils make sure they are certified USDA organic, 100% pure, therapeutic grade and indigenous sourced.
Here are some brands that you could try:
There are many other different brands. Some are more expensive, and some are subscription based. Select the option that best works for your budget and lifestyle.
In conclusion, we enjoy using Essential Oils for stress management and mental clarity. Please understand the research on EO is highly limited, and EO should not be considered a medical treatment. Speak with your health-care provider for any individual questions.
If you are more interested in EO’s and would like a live event held at your company, we have the solution! B.Komplete offers Wellness Awareness Stations on Essential Oil and Stress Management, and we also have a Seminar to discuss Alternative Medicine. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book our inspiring services for your company.
- Clinical Aromatherapy – Essential Oils in Healthcare
- Quick Reference Guide in Using Essential Oils