The Healing Essential Oils Guide*
a beginner's guide to aromatherapy & essential oils recipes for health and healing
Essential oils are one of nature’s most versatile tools. They can be used to create beauty treatments, cleaning products, health remedies and so much more.
They also contain none of the harmful chemicals that conventional beauty products, cleaning products and medicines contain, so you can use them without worrying about any unpleasant side effects.
Some essential oils can last up to three years and should always be stored in dark colored glass containers. Most oils will last at least one year, except for citrus oils, which begin to lose their potency after 6 months. That is why it is a good idea to keep blank adhesive labels handy, so you can write your purchase date on your essential oil bottles.
Do not make the rookie mistake of using the same eyedropper for all your essential oils. Cross-contamination easily occurs because these oils are so volatile. Even a tiny amount of crossover can render an oil unauthentic. You should store your oils in a dry, cool environment that does not receive any direct sunlight.
Contrary to popular opinion, your eyedropper lids should not be screwed too tightly onto your oil bottles. Over-tightening shortens the lifespan of your essential oils. Tighten your lids firmly, but not overly so.
If you know you are not going to be using an oil for an extended period, use the original screw-on lid that came with that bottle. This keeps your oil from evaporating. Remember that mixing any oil with a carrier oil reduces the lifespan to 6 months, but only if refrigerated and securely capped.
Essential Oils Buying Guide
There are more than 3,000 essential oils, of which approximately 300 are used in aromatherapy. Of those, there are 101 major essential oils traded on the global market. Only the professional aromatherapist or seasoned amateur would use all 101, rarely. The average arsenal of essential oils contains approximately one or two dozen individual oils and five to seven blends.
A good number for the layman or novice is ten. But which ten? Every manufacturer, merchant, author and practitioner has a 'Top 10' list of essential oils, and no two lists are the same. There are commonalities, naturally, but every list is different. There's the 'Top 10 Essential Oils Ever,' (again, no two lists alike), 'Top 10 Best Selling,' 'Top 10 Recommended,' 'Top 10 for Colds,' and 'Top 10 Florals,' to name a few. The best way to begin selecting essential oils is by making your own list: 'My Top 10 Essential Oils.'
Choosing Essential Oils
Essential oils are categorized myriad ways - alphabetically, botanically, aromatically, chemically, according to ailment, physical body systems, or chakras, among others. Health, well-being and beauty are about balance, and ill-health and discomfort are about imbalance, or opposing forces.
In the most primary sense, energy is both positive and negative and these two forces balance each other. Heat balances cold, dark balances light and opposites attract. One way to categorize essential oils is how they bring balance and return equilibrium.
Physical, mental and emotional problems, viewed as either positive or negative states, need an antidote. Treating illnesses collectively as a duality, essential oils can be categorized as either 'negative' (relaxing, calming, tension-relieving, sedating) or 'positive' (stimulating, rejuvenating, invigorating, awakening).
Next, with your list, visit a perfumery, health food store or drugstore where essential oils can be sniffed and see which aromas appeal to you. If you smell anything you don't like, immediately reject that oil. If the oil is not pleasing to you or if you find it offensive on any level, it will cause a negative reaction, even if only subliminally.
If you've gone through your list and found only one or two oils pleasing to you, that's fine. As you continue to work with aromatherapy, you will instinctively choose additional oils as the need arises or your smell changes.
Before purchasing essential oils, it helps to know how to read labels and advertising unique to this industry. Manufacturers are not deliberately deceptive but understanding labeling of essential oils is tricky. You don't need a post-doctoral degree in chemistry, pharmacology, or general medicine, but there are a few catch phrases that can help you identify products.
It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the subtleties of essential oil labeling. For instance, '100% pure essential oil’ does not necessarily mean 'undiluted.' A product can have 3 drops of lavender oil in 8 ounces of jojoba oil and still qualify as 100% pure.
First distillations are the strongest and highest quality of an essential oil. Subsequent distillations are progressively weaker.
Notice if labeling or advertising specifies which part of a plant was used to obtain a specific oil. If research says the best essential oil of a plant comes from its petals, for example, be careful not to choose a product that contains 'leaf extract.' Essential oil of orange blossom flower and essential oil of orange rind are two totally different oils with different properties and therapeutic benefits.
It's advisable to purchase single essential oils, rather than blends or pre-mixed remedies, whenever feasible. This allows you to 1) control the amount of dilution that suits you best, 2) regulate the intensity and nature of the aroma, and 3) extend the shelf-life of oils because they last longer in undiluted states.
Take time to shop around and do the math. Essential oils can be purchased at a health food store, organic grocery store, New Age gift shop, mainstream drugstore, bookstore, perfumery, or natural cosmetics store.
There are quite literally hundreds of retailers, distributors and manufacturers worldwide who offer Internet shopping or auctions. It's a good idea to study websites thoroughly to be able to determine and choose a reputable dealer with whom you want to do business.
Compare pricing which can vary dramatically. Excellent rose otto can vary from $300 to $700 per 1/2-ounce (15 ml) depending on the seller. If you are willing to pay the higher price, make sure it's justified and that you 'get what you pay for.' Similarly, prices vary drastically according to country of origin.
The most desirable essential oil of sandalwood comes from India and costs $150 per ounce (30 ml); sandalwood oil from Australia sells for $80 per ounce. When shopping online, compare shipping costs; a few large distributors offer free shipping with every order.
Finally, purchase essential oils only if they come in dark bottles, either blue or brown glass. Light and heat reduce the effectiveness of essential oils and shorten shelf-life. Oxygen in the air inside a bottle can cause color deterioration and rancid odor.
Large quantities of oil are best recanted into smaller containers to reduce the amount of oxygen in the headspace of a bottle. If stored in fully topped-off, tightly sealed, dark-glass containers in a cool area, 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 20 degrees Celsius), essential oils last 6 to 24 months.
Ask your retailer for the life-span of an oil at time of purchase. At any point, if you detect a foul, or uncharacteristic odor, the essential oil has become rancid and is no longer therapeutic; in fact, it even might be detrimental to health and cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
Ways to Use Essential Oils
In aromatherapy, the benefits of essential oils are experienced two ways - through inhalation or topical application to skin. Essential oils are not ingested in self-therapy, especially by a layman, and only in rare cases under the direction of a licensed medical practitioner.
Inhaling an essential oil increases brain frequency, balances right and left-brain activities, and signals the release of hormones to specific areas of the body. Applied to the skin, essential oils enter the blood stream and are drawn to specific body parts that need healing.
Essential oils are guided to a hormone, body part or system with which it is most compatible and effective. ne specific oil might be effective with muscle tissue, another might be drawn toward bone marrow. It's as if the aroma molecules are soldiers marching toward a precise target, ready to strike when and where needed.
The simplest and fastest way to inhale aroma molecules of essential oil is to sniff directly from an open vial, or to wear essential oil mixed with a carrier as a perfume.
A more intense delivery to the brain is achieved by placing a few drops of oil in the palm, cupping hands over the nose and inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply through the nose, keeping the mouth closed.
Diffusing oil into the air is the most thorough method of inhalation. A wide variety of diffusers range from a pottery bowl heated by a candle underneath to an electrically heated bowl. There also is a nebulizer, vaporizer, humidifier, wick inhaler, plug-in atomizer with wick refills, room spray, potpourri, pillow or linen sachet, and the newest trend, a multi-reed diffuser. With every diffusion method, only a few drops of oil, combined with stream or water, are all that is needed to reap therapeutic benefits.
A full body massage, with properly diluted essential oil, is the most popular way to apply essential oil to the skin. Targeted relief can be achieved by applying essential oils to reflexology points on soles of the feet and palms. With headache, oils can be massaged into the temples. For abdominal relief, a localized massage relaxes muscles used in digestion and elimination.
A leisurely soak in bath water treated with essential oil or scented bath salts is the perfect ending to a massage or a leisurely healing on its own. Diluted essential oil can be added to a hot tub or Jacuzzi or splashed on sauna rocks.
Essential oils added to shampoo, conditioner, soap, face cleanser, lotions and moisturizers are a wise addition to face and hair beauty regimens.
Generally, three to five drops of oil, added one by one, to one teaspoon of carrier oil or lotion is a good ratio; use less in skin care products for the face. Exceptions to this rule for stronger, more powerful oils are noted at the end of each profile in Chapters 4 and 5. For tub water, first dissolve essential oil in honey, vegetable oil, half-&-half, powdered or liquid milk; this will disperse oil throughout tub and prevent it collecting in one spot.
When creating a blend, the main thing to remember is 'the nose knows.' Based on your research, choose 3 oils that will do what you want them to do. Experiment with them on swabs to determine your unique 'recipe' and the quantities you want to incorporate into a blend. Using only 3 ingredients, plus carrier or base oil, mistakes can be corrected easily. With experience, add or subtract additional oils one at a time, for a maximum of five.
Keep it simple.
Remember to exhale...and enjoy!
General Safety Precautions
A safe rule of thumb is to never use an essential oil undiluted directly on skin, or neat. Exceptions can be made for lavender and tea tree oils, but only after careful experimentation with test-patches. Some persons might be hyper-sensitive even to lavender and tea tree, the two gentlest essential oils in aromatherapy.
A skin patch test should be administered prior to every first-time use of an essential oil.
Essential oils should only be taken internally under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner.
Essential oils are highly flammable; use extreme care around fire.
In the event of eye injury from essential oil, irrigate eye with a sterile, isotonic, saline solution for 15 minutes. Immediately consult a physician if pain persists after the eye wash.
Keep essential oils in a locked cabinet, away from children.
Asthma and epilepsy patients should avoid fennel, hyssop and rosemary.
Babies and elderly persons require lower doses of essential oils, half that recommended for an healthy adult. Peppermint and eucalyptus have been known to cause respiratory problems with these age groups. Lavender and neroli, despite their gentle nature, can be tolerated only in minute amounts (1 drop in bath water and 1/2 drop per ounce of carrier oil.)
Cancer patients may use mild dilutions of bergamot, chamomile, lavender, ginger and frankincense; fennel and aniseed in particular should be avoided.
Persons undergoing chemotherapy should avoid using essential oils.
High blood pressure patients should avoid essential oils of black pepper, clove, hyssop, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Low blood pressure patients should avoid excessive use of lavender oil.
Persons allergic to nuts cannot use sweet almond or peanut carrier oils. Safer alternatives are sunflower, canola (non-GM) and safflower oils.
Pregnant women should avoid essential oils before the 18th week of pregnancy, especially in cases of prior miscarriage. In the second trimester, essential oils may be used in low doses formulated by a professional aromatherapist or health care provider.
Basil Essential Oil
Bergamot Essential Oil
Black Pepper Essential Oil
Cardamom Essential Oil
Cassia Essential Oil
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Chamomile Essential Oil
Cilantro Essential Oil
Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clove Bud Essential Oil
Coriander Essential Oil
Cypress Essential Oil
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Fennel Essential Oil
Frankincense Essential Oil
Geranium Essential Oil
Ginger Essential Oil
Grapefruit Essential Oil
Helichrysum Essential Oil
Jasmine Essential Oil
Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lime Essential Oil
Marjoram Essential Oil
Melaleuca Essential Oil
Melissa Essential Oil
Myrrh Essential Oil
Neroli Essential Oil
Oregano Essential Oil
Patchouli Essential Oil
Peppermint Essential Oil
Pine Needle Essential Oil
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Rose Essential Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Spearmint Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Thyme Essential Oil
Vetiver Essential Oil
White Fir Essential Oil
Wild Orange Essential Oil
Wintergreen Essential Oil
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil