The Essential – Essential Oils

22 Aug

If you are looking to include more organic/natural solutions for personal and home use, we suggest stocking your cabinet with a few basic essential oils. Lavender, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils are good ones to begin using.

If you’ve ever sniffed an essential oil, you know what a strong scent they have.  This scent is a result of the naturally occurring chemical compounds that are in a more condensed form than you get from the plant or herb.  These same chemical compounds are also what make essential oils effective for personal and home use.  Actually many man-made medicines get their start with botanicals.

Aspirin came about because of willow bark.  Willow bark had been used since ancient times in many cultures for pain and fever.  In more recent history, Tamoxifen used to treat breast cancer is a result of the Pacific Yew tree.  And Israeli doctors are investigating cinnamon as a prevention and cure for Alzheimer’s, and hospitals in France and Israel are investigating the use of cinnamon oil to fight hard to kill bacteria.  Lavender sprayed in Alzheimer ‘s units has shown to calm patients.  And a combination of essential oils showed promising results for hair loss. 

Our suggestions for the use of essential oils will not cure cancer or Alzehimer’s, but may help with some typical personal and household problems.

LAVENDER
Buy true lavender; the biological name is “lavandula angustifolia.”  Spike lavender though related is not the same and Lavandin is a cross between true lavender and spike lavender.  Lavender is a very gentle oil in that it can often be applied neat (undiluted) on the skin and most people have not trouble with lavender.  Be prudent in the amount of essential oils you use because too much can cause a headache or be a stimulant when you want to relax.

  • Uses
    • Burns/Sunburns.  Burn yourself taking a pot off the stove or something out of the oven, reach for the lavender.  Modern aromatherapy got its start from lavender and a burn.  French chemist/perfumer Rene-Maurice Gattefosse applied lavender after a severe burn, and as the saing goes, “the rest is history.” For small and less severe burns apply neat (undiluted).  For larger areas, dilute with a cup of water in a spray bottle and spray.
    • Sleep/Insomnia.  Lavender has relaxing and sedative properties that make it a great aid for sleep problems.  There are several ways to use it for sleep. 
      • Add a few drops to a warm bath.  Because a bath can also stimulate, take your bath an hour or so before going to bed.
      • Apply two drops to a small cloth and put between your pillow and pillowcase.  The scent will be there all night.  This is especially good if you wake during the night and can’t go back to sleep.  Do not use too much or you will be restless instead.
      • Make a spritzer with lavender oil and water and spray in your bedroom before going to bed.  To keep it fresh, don’t make more than a few days worth.
      • Inhaling lavender is calming and relaxing. 
    • PMS.  Lavender is known for relieving premenstrual symptoms.  Dilute a couple of drops in a carrier oil (almond, grapeseed, coconut, jojoba, olive, etc.) and rub on your stomach and lower back.
    • Insect bite and repellant.  For insect bites, apply neat and rub into the bite.  You may also combine it with the same amount of tea tree oil and apply.  To use as a repellant, apply neat to ankles, neck, and wrist.  You could also make a spray with 10-12 drops of lavender (again can combine with tea tree) with a cup of water.
    • Facial mister.  Do you sometimes feel your face needs a “wake me up” or feels dehydrated, and you can’t apply moisturizer?  Make a lavender face spray.  Use about 6 -7 drops of lavender in ½ cup of mineral water. Shake or mix.  Pour the spritzer in a one or two ounce spray bottle.  Whole Foods and Michael’s Craft store sale the bottles.  Store the remaining spray in the refrigerator. People with problem or oily skin can also use this.  Lavender is also good for acne, psoriasis, athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions.

TEA TREE OIL
The aboriginal people of Australia have been using tea tree for thousands of years.  While the name has tea in it, tea tree oil does not come from the tea plant.  Tea tree is one of the most effective essential oils because it has properties that fight against bacteria, fungi, and viruses.  As with almost all essential oils, you do not want to ingest tea tree essential oil.

  • Uses
    • Sore throat.  Add a drop of tea tree oil to ¼ cup water and gargle.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
    • Earache/Swimmer’s ear.  Warm to the touch 1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil, almond oil, or sesame oil.  Add one drop of tea tree oil to the warmed oil.  Using a dropper or small spoon drop oil into the ear, keep ear tilted for a few minutes or place a cotton ball in the ear.  Repeat as necessary.  Seek medical attention for sever pain, bleeding, or pain accompanied with a fever.
    • Cold or Flu.  Inhale the vapors by placing 2 – 3 drops in hot water and placing a towel over your head.  Be careful not to burn yourself. Or add a drop or two to a warm water vaporizer.  You can also make a warm compress to place on the chest.  Take a couple drops of tea tree oil and mix in warm water.  Soak a small washcloth in the mixture; wring it out, and place on chest.
    • Mouthwash.  Dilute one drop of tea tree oil in ¼ cup water; gargle and swish.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
    • Dandruff.  Either add a few drops to your shampoo and/or conditioner.  You can also make a final rinse with a couple drops of tea tree in some water.  Be sure to gently massage into scalp.
    • Disinfectant.  Spray the air during flu and cold season with tea tree and distilled water to disinfect the air.  Don’t make more than you will use in a few days to keep it fresh.
    • Mold.  Use either directly depending on the size of the area or dilute with some water.

PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL
Peppermint essential oil is very strong smell and the smell lasts a long time.  So, use just a small amount.  Peppermint has also been around a long time; remnants of peppermint have been found in Egyptian tombs from 1000 B.C.E.  Don’t put peppermint oil directly on the skin.  

  • Uses
    • Bugs and Insects.   Peppermint essential oil works great on bugs.  A dilution of peppermint essential oil and water, or with a small amount of alcohol is will keep many of the creepy crawlers from invading your space.  In a 16 oz. spray bottle, drop about 6 drops of peppermint oil, add water and shake.  Spray around the outside perimeter of your house.  You can also spray around the inside perimeter.  Remember since the scent is strong and long lasting do one level at a time, beginning with the basement. 
    • Migraine Headaches.  Combine 3- 4 drops peppermint and 1 drop of lavender essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil (almond, jojoba, grapeseed, olive oil, etc.) and rub into temples. Make ahead so it’s ready when you need it. Repeat as necessary.
    • Achy Tired Feet.  At the end of an exhausting and perhaps your day isn’t finished, this is a great pick-me-up that sends some special love to your overworked feet.   Fill a tub or basin some very warm water to – just enough to cover the feet; add two – three drops of peppermint oil.  You can also add a couple drops of lavender to the mix.  Soak the feet, or to make them really feel good, get a stiff body brush and brush the soles and around the toes.  Soak for a few more minutes.  You may want to rinse the feet in cool water at the very end.
    • Bad Breath.  Add a drop of peppermint oil to ¼ cup water.  Rinse and gargle.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
    • Nausea/Indigestion.  Just a whiff of peppermint oil helps to settle a stomach. You can also place a drop in a tablespoon of wild honey to settle indigestion or upset stomach.

This is just a start to the uses for the essential oils listed above, and there are hundreds of essential oils that offer benefits other than for perfume or scent.  Just remember essential oils are very potent so a little goes along way.

This information is for entertaining purposes only and not for diagnosing or treatment of any conditions.

References:
“Aromatherapy,” Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, A Teaching Hospital of Harvard Medical Center. Online: http://www.bidmc.org/YourHealth/ConditionsAZ.aspx?ChunkID=37427 .  Retrieved 19 August 2011.

Lawless, Julie, “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oil.”  Rockport, MA. Element Books. 1997.


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: