After a lot of hesitation and thinking it was just the newest fad that would pass, I have wholeheartedly jumped on the essential oils bandwagon. And maybe it is just a fad, and the raging popularity of it will fade, but the fact remains that these oils have been used medicinally for thousands of years, and I truly believe there is something to that. So I jumped in two feet first and am sooooo thankful I did! These oils are totally changing my life and I'm so grateful! I'm going to be sharing a ton more here on the blog about how I use them for my family, but I just wanted to give a quick overview today to start out!
What are essential oils? An essential oil is a liquid that is generally distilled (most frequently by steam or water) from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots or other elements of a plant. Essential oils contain the true essence of the plant it was derived from. (source) I get all my essential oils from Young Living Essential Oils. I understand there is a LOT of information out there on the internet about all the different essential oils companies and a lot of it is accusatory and negative. To be honest, I did not have the time or energy to spend hours and hours researching different companies. I've also been knee-deep in making the switch to ethical, sustainably sourced food and now beauty products (and am getting my feet wet looking into the clothing industry as well) and it gets absolutely overwhelming trying to live a completely ethically, sustainably sourced, fair-trade and budget-friendly life. I mean SERIOUSLY overwhelming. I'm working really hard at it but I HAVE to take baby steps. So I understand that there are claims about Young Living and their quality/farms/etc but I haven't read anything unbiased enough to make me change my mind. The internet is a weird place where people can say anything, so I take basically everything with a grain of salt. Several people I know personally and whose opinions I wholeheartedly trust when it comes to their family's health use and recommend Young Living, so I jumped on board. I've been very happy with the quality of their oils, their customer service and how well the oils have worked for me in the various ways I've used them. BUT, I'm a big proponent of doing your own research. Ask around, Google if you dare, and decide for yourself what company you'd like to use. I'm never going to be one to be super pushy about Young Living because a) pushy salespeople bother me and b) I think any step you take in the direction of better health + wellness is a good one, regardless of whether I gain anything from it or not.
How are essential oils used? There are there ways to use essential oils.
1. Inhalation, which means you take the oils in through smelling them. I mostly use my home diffuser for this. From time to time I'll put some oil in my palm and inhale that way, or even just open the bottle and inhale without pouring any.
2. Topically, which means you apply them to your skin. This is the #1 way I use my oils. Some oils can be applied to skin "neat" which means they don't need to be diluted--just pour straight from the bottle onto your skin. Other oils DO need to be diluted, and can be diluted with a number of what are called "carrier" oils, such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc. If I need to dilute, I usually use coconut oil because it's what I already have on hand.
3. Internally, which means you ingest them, whether through capsules or in water. I rarely ingest oils, but I will occasionally do lemon in my water if I need an energy burst. It's important to note that these oils are potent, and a TINY bit goes a long way. A lot of people don't recommend ingestion, although I know tons of others who ingest oils daily and love it. I think ingesting oils is a super personal decision and I've just never felt totally comfortable doing it regularly. I also find that topical application and inhaling always works for what I need, so I never feel the need to ingest oils.
How do essential oils work? Understanding this was a biggie for me in making the jump to using the oils more regularly. I am a curious person by nature, and I want to know HOW and WHY something works the way it does before I really trust it. But understanding essential oils isn't as simple as Googling it, because there is a LOT of scientific and medical sounding language involved. So enlisted the help of my biochemist husband, who helped me break it down. Let me preface this by saying I am not a doctor. I do not advocate quitting all medicines or throwing out the advice your medical doctor has given you and jumping to essential oils. I do believe in modern medicine and believe it has a vital place in today's world. However, I also completely believe that we have tools and resources at our disposable that have been at our disposal for thousands of years that can help our bodies perform how they were meant to. Okay, that's that. Here's my crude and unofficial understanding of how essential oils work, in terms that make sense to my brain.
- Essential oils are made up of 7 key components (terpenes, esters, oxides, alcohols, phenols, ketones, and aldehydes) that work WITH the body's natural systems and can stimulate the immune system, aid cell growth, help eliminate toxins, kill bacteria and viruses, etc.
- The key is that essential oils work WITH the body. A lot of times, medicine works AGAINST the body, which is why so often people who are on medicine for one thing end up having to take medicine for something completely different because the first medicine threw something off in their body.
- There are active components in essential oils that are absorbed into the skin just like the ingredients in common pharmaceuticals such as hormone replacement therapy cream and nicotine patches, for example.
- Essential oils can restore the body to optimum health. Unlike medicine, which you often become "immune" to after frequent use, the more you use essential oils, the less you need them. I know that after several years of using the same prescription migraine medicine, I had to switch because my body became immune and the medicine just didn't work anymore. That's not the case with essential oils, which I really like.
How do you use essential oils? This is probably 10 blog posts in and of itself, but the short answer is: for everything! I use them for helping stabilize my emotions (I struggle with anxiety), for headaches, allergies, colds/sniffles, cleaning, aromatherapy, relaxation, muscle soreness, skin, healing minor bruises and blemishes, combatting fatigue, the list goes on and on. I'm finding new ways to use them every single day and I love that the same single bottle of oil can have soooooo many uses!
So there you go! A veryyyyyy brief overview of essential oils and how we're using them. I'll be sharing tons more in the coming weeks about specific uses and recipe blends and how we use them daily in our home. I also have an Instagram account dedicated solely to essential oils, so follow me there if you're interested! Can't wait to share more as I learn more along this journey...xoxo!