Plants contain plant essences. When these plant essences are separated from the whole plant, it becomes essential oil. The essences are the unique beautiful smell of the plants. It’s the safety mechanism of the plant, created in specialized glands for a purpose. That purpose may be to attract bugs (To pollinate it), to detract bugs (to avoid damaging plant), or to sustain more extreme temperatures. Essentially- the plant creates the essence due to stress. Essential oils can be very helpful to help humans with stress too.
There are several processes of removing the plant essence from plants and creating essential oils- the most common one is in distilling. Steam and pressure over the plant material creates water and the oils. The oils are then separated out and the leftover water mixture is called hydrosols. Hydrosols have health benefits as well, and since they are not very concentrated, are great for babies. Citrus oils typically are separated by a process called cold pressing. Distilling uses alcohol to remove the essence as with vanilla.
Essential oils (and all smells) are made of molecules. Essential oil molecules are made up of natural chemical constituents. The type of plant, and the specific growing circumstances (including the stressors and soil) will slightly change the constituents, though in general, certain plants have certain chemicals that have been used for centuries in helping keep people well. Plants can create more than one type of essential oil- for example orange oil comes from the orange rind, neroli comes from the orange flower.
When you breathe the essential oils, the olfactory membrane (in your nose) recognizes individual molecules (chemical constituent) and sends that information almost instantaneously to the brain. The parts of the brain receiving the information from the olfactory membrane are the limbic system and cerebral cortex.
In the limbic region (a collection of subcortical structures that include the amygdala, septum, hippocampus, cingulate gyrus), the impulse may impact several responses such as emotion, instinctive behavior, motivation, drive, feelings, learning, and memory. The sense of smell evokes a great deal of emotional responses. The reason for this emotional response to scent is the limbic system. Responses like “yuk!” or “yum!” are emotional responses that can be elicited by a scent. Long-term memories can be evoked via the limbic system. Certain smell may bring you instantly back to your childhood. The limbic system establishes emotional states, so your overall mood can be affected by smell. Essential oils work well for emotional balancing, though the outcome is person specific.
Essential oils are attracted to oils. This attraction is why we mix it with an oil base and why essential oils work well- It’s attracted to the oils in our body (including our cell membranes) and crosses them easily.
We can choose which oils to use based on how much we like how something smells (tying into the limbic system), or the result we are looking to have based on the chemical constituents in those plants (tying into the cerebral cortex). You don’t have to be able to SMELL to get the results from the oils. It is best to store them in a cool dry place. Heat plus oils can be irritating to your skin as it changes the constituents.
Keep essential oils away from the eyes and ears.
Use citrus oil on skin NOT exposed to direct sunlight.
(Even in blends. Your skin will burn easily.) Some oils are hot (spicy). Especially don’t use those in the bathtub. Be sure to dilute them well in oil if applied to the skin. (Hot=cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, etc) (Citrus includes lemon, lime, bergamot, grapefruit, etc.)
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! We all need different things.
More sensitive people need to dilute more and be more cautious than less sensitive people.
Remember that the oils are fat soluble. If you get it in your eyes, or if it ever feels stingy – wash your hands and rub more carrier oil.
For Babies: the gentlest are Lavender, Lemon, Frankincense, Orange, Cedarwood. Start here. Mama’s use your intuition. Dilute well, apply topically to the bottoms of feet to start, or place it on your chest- with baby nearby. Diffuse the gentler oils in closed areas.
Pregnancy: Avoid large quantities of Basil, Butch, Calamus, Cassia, Hyssop, Idaho Tandy, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Cinnamon Bark, Fennel, or Wintergreen.
Breastfeeding: No peppermint or anything from the mint family.
Animals- ideally research what works best for animals. Never enclose an animal in a room without the ability to leave if they want to. (leave this up to them.) Animals are VERY smell sensitive.
The top safety expert on essential oils is Robert Tisserand. He is uber cautious. If he says its safe, it should be (but still- everyone is different. Do what works for you.) He is so cautious, that some of what he cautions may be just fine.
Use ONLY the highest quality oils. It makes a difference. A note: there are lots of opinions on what makes a good vs bad company for essential oils. I happen to use Young Living. I really like this company. There are other companies that are also good, and many that are bad. Check reviews. See what checks they make on quality control. What is the cost? The cost of oils is based on- how much plant product it takes to make that amount of oil and how much that product cost. If it is much cheaper than other brands for the same essential oil type, it is too good to be true, and it probably isn’t good quality. However, cheaper quality oils may be good for housecleaning etc. I would not inhale, diffuse or use a cheap quality oil on your body….
This is how most essential oils are used: You would create the strength based on: Is the person very young or old, or medically fragile? (Use less concentrated.) Is the person healthy but using this every day? In this case, use less concentrated than the blend you may make for an acute issue you create for short use…. Pinterest has a lot of blending ideas. Not all information is accurate or even safe, including digesting oils. Unless you are confident of the quality or just using for flavoring, it is not ideal to ingest oils. You get all the benefit of the chemical without the issues if you smell or apply the oils.
For babies 3 months to 1 year, start with 1 drop of baby appropriate essential oil to four teaspoons of carrier oil used topically on the bottom of their feet. Observe how they react – if they respond well, keep at it and use it also on their belly, chest, and spine. If you feel like it isn’t making a difference, but they do well with it, slowly up the dilution.
For small children and sensitive people – start with 1-5 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil – depending on the strength of the oil (Thieves vs. Copaiba) and the age/size/sensitivity of the child. Start more dilute and just notice – use mama senses. For a 10 ml roller bottle for children 2-10 drops essential oil depending on age/size/sensitivity plus strength of oil. Once you find what works well for your child, stick with it for a while.
For normal adults just starting with oils – starting slow is a good idea. But usually 1-3 drops with a squirt of carrier oil mixed in your hands is good.
If you want to make a 10ml roller bottle for adults – 10-30 drops of oil is usually appropriate depending on your sensitivity to oil. (Which you learn from your experimenting at the beginning.)
Ways to use the Essential oils….
Essential oils blended in an oil or salve: slower and longer absorption
- Great for longer lasting essential oil use
- Often used in warming or cooling blends
- Use the following dilution:
- Children and elderly: 4-9 drops per oz
- Adults: 27 drops per oz
- Adult occasional use: 45 drops per oz
– You can have a drop in your hand and mix it in- or you could create it in a bottle to use regularly
Diffuser: the best way to get a FEW drops into a LARGE area….
- They set a mood (emotions)
- Natural Room Fragrance (ditch the chemicals)
- Deodorize bad smells (cotton ball dropped in trash cans) or baking soda in fridge.
- Clean the air (such as during family sickness)
- 3-7 drops in water, according to diffuser directions
Inhalers: personal blends
- Ideal for Sinus wellness blends since you breathe them directly to area
- personal use: using oils doesn’t affect anyone else
- on-the-go for travel, purse, backpacks, etc
- great for ZYTO custom blends
- 5 drops for children, 15 drops for adults
- Lasts about 3 months then oils are evaporated
Blends in Creams: Fast absorption
- ideal for blends for muscle cramps or muscle discomfort- absorbs quickly
- ideal for blends for stomach wellness
- use a drop of EO with a teaspoon of cream.
- to mix:
- use 4 drops (children and elderly) to 27 drops (occasional use healthy adults) per oz of cream
- use glass container or PET plastic container (oils could dissolve plastic)
- Keep in cool dry place.
hot water steam in shower- warm up water, step into shower (water going on you) and place a few drops of oil on the floor of shower.
In steam bowl: boil water. Place it in a bowl. Have a tea towel ready, create a tent over your nose but under your eyes. Place a few drops of essential oils in the bowl and breathe in from the steam tent.
Essential Oil blends vs Single
You can use oils as a single or get a blend of oils (or blend them yourself). Blends are lovely- you get a more complex smell plus more wellness opportunity as you can create mixtures of more chemical constituents according to your wellness goal.
Essential oils have high notes– light, fresh and airy, like citruses. They add brightness to the blend.
Middle notes: harmonizing and bring balance. Have both high and base qualities to them. Lavender and peppermint are middle notes.
Base notes- like earthy oils- deep warm and grounded- from roots (tend to be grounding oils like cedarwood, vetiver and Ylang Ylang, often used to help with anxiety, insomnia as they “ground you”.
My favorite oils and their uses:
Lavender is great smelling, relaxing and calming for emotions, considered safe for young children. Often called the Swiss Army knife of oils, it’s pretty much good for everything. Its light fragrance balances out some harsher smelling oils…
My favorite uses:
- a drop on a 1st degree burn
- mixed with aloe and put on a sunburn
- mixed with orange essential oil and used for relaxation. This support restful sleeping for adults and babies.
- a drop on chest rises to nose for a lovely smell
- mixed with lemon and peppermint in inhaler for seasonal wellness
- Enhance your bath by adding 10 drops to 1 TBS full fat milk- THEN add to bath. You could use Epsom salts too
- Smell directly from the bottle to quiet your thoughts
- Put a few drops on a cotton ball and place in your linen closet to keep it fresh
- Place a few drops on a wet cloth and throw into the dryer to freshen laundry
Lemon is bright and uplifting
PHOTO SENSITIVE: DO NOT place where the sun shines. BEST to INHALE, not apply
- Oils so uplifting, it’s great as a wake-me-up (but don’t use at the end of the day)
- great with lavender, peppermint for seasonal wellness
- vitality oils- safe for consumption (one drop in water) adds delicious
- In shower- place a drop on the floor to create wake-me-up morning steam
- 1-2 drops help remove gum
- 1-2 drops help remove oil (be careful of surface area- it can melt plastic)
Peppermint: Bright and Stimulating
- great for wake-me- place a drop in shower
- with lavender and lemon- great for seasonal wellness
- a drop on the roof of the mouth (vitality) can support your sinus (and good breath)
- a drop on temples may support a headache
- the natural stimulation may help support concentration (studying)
- helps deter pests in the kitchen (place on cotton ball near where they are coming in)
Frankincense: Calming, and Adrenal Support
- Add to a NIGHT-TIME blends because it isn’t stimulating
- Added to a wellness formula when you’ve had issue a while and you are fatigued and worn out
- When supporting exhaustion, put on back over adrenals to support
- 1-2 drops on temples may improve concentration
- supports skin health- add a drop to your skin cream then apply
My favorite single oils for winter wellness…
- Lavender: calming to a cough, a cold, helps with rest
- Frankincense: good for exhaustion, good for night-time rest.
- Eucalyptus globulous: sinus support
- Orange oil: reduces swelling and relaxes muscles (think lungs too) and balances out harsher oils
- Tea tree- anti fungal, anti-bacterial
- Cedarwood: calming and sinus support: better for younger kids than eucalyptus oils
Visit my website to see recipes of blending inhalers, creams, and diffusers to help keep you well in the winter season.
Inhaler for winter wellness: 5 drops each eucalyptus globulous, tea tree and sweet orange.
Inhaler for seasonal support or nausea: 5 drops each peppermint, lemon, and lavender.
Natural Fragrance and Deodorization
Most people consider the number one issue with listed ingredients to be the word “fragrance”. Many unsafe ingredients can be listed under the “fragrance” category and do not need to be individually listed. Companies are starting to listen to consumers and become more transparent with what they list as fragrance…. Using essential oils in diffusers (or the other ways listed) is a much safer alternative to both deodorizing the air and cleaning it… If you don’t have a diffuser, or want continual deodorizing such as in a bathroom or fridge, baking soda is a great alternative… Simply mix 20 drops of the oils you would like into a cup of baking soda (in an open glass or ceramic container). This also can be sprinkled into a rug before vacuuming to deodorize and make all vacuuming after lovely! I use purification for most deodorizing…
My favorite blend for deodorizing (by YL) is called purification. It’s especially helpful in neutralizing odors. It is a blend containing citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, lavandin, and myrtle. Note: Lavendin is not lavender. Look at the Latin name to make sure you have the intended oil…