How to Use Essential Oils
with Four Applications
Learning how to use essential oils does NOT have to be overwhelming.
In this article I want to describe to you the four basic applications of essential oil uses and a few very simple guidelines that can make your incorporation of these incredible oils easy and safe.
First, the guidelines:
- Personal judgment over all else. Your intuition (and your nose) is usually the best guide to learning how to use essential oils. What does your gut say? Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do about what's right and wrong for you, and with very little trial and error you'll get better at discerning between your intuition and everything else.
- Safe doesn't mean foolproof. Even drinking water used the wrong way can be harmful. And the oils we use and recommend are very potent. Know your body, your sensitivities, the properties and precautions of the oil you're about to use and ease yourself in to what you use.
- Follow precautions wisely. The techniques and recommendations on essential oil uses below are there to both give you knowledge on the precautions necessary to use these oils wisely, as well as inspiration on ways you may try. Learning the art of how to use essential oils takes time and common sense, but can be implemented easily when done so wisely.
Four Applications (and Dozens of Ideas) for Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are usually used in four ways: aromatically, topically, internally and around the home.
Not every oil can be used in each way! It's important to research each oil to know which application is indicated for it. You can do that with the essential oil list here.
Below I'll go through each application, give you the guidelines and offer some inspiration on how to use essential oils in four main applications.
The aromatic application is the most widely known and used. Most of us understand that essential oils smell good and can be used as deoderizer or to freshen up the home.
But there is more to aromatic applications than just smelling good.
In the same way that negative compounds, such as chemical cleaners or gases can be absorbed into out blood stream through inhalation, so can the positive properties of essential oils. Inhalation can be quickly effective for the respiratory system, including the sinuses. Aromatic application can also have a positive affect on headaches, appetite, hormones, mood and so on. They've been shown to increase indoor air quality, reduce chemicals in the air, and fight airborne illnesses. And the positive compounds and their properties, once within our blood stream, can increase our immune system response or promote well-being in a multitude of ways.
This is because the "aroma" you breathe is actually a fine mist or vapor containing all the same properties of the oil itself. And it is due to the fact that the olfactory system is closely connected to the limbic system of the brain that essential oils have such a positive affect on the physical and psychological systems of the body.
Here are some aromatic essential oil uses:
- Diffusing: A good diffuser should use cool or room temperature air or ultrasonic vibrations to diffuse the oil into the air, which help the oil molecules remain airbound for several more hours and do not affect the structure of the oil through heat (which can dimish its therapeutic qualities).
- Direct Inhalation: Directly inhaling the oil can be done by holding the bottle of essential oil a few inches from the nose and breathing in the aroma, or by adding a drop the the hands and cupping them over the mouth and nose. Some oils should be diluted before direct inhalation.
- Indirect Inhalation: Adding a drop to a handkerchief, cotton ball, small square of fabric, shirt collar, hair, pillow case, etc can all be beneficial. You can add a small piece of fabric with essential oil to your car vent or air duct this way, inhale while you rest, etc.
- Hot Water Vapor: Bring a pot of water to boiling, add 1-3 drops of essential oil, place a towel over your head (your head being over the water) and inhale the steam.
- Humidifier: Just like a diffuser, cool air humidifiers are best. Be aware that essential oils can damage plastic components over time, so choosing one made for essential oils is best.
- Fan, Vent, Etc: Just like with the indirect inhalation, you can add the oil to cloth and place it in a vent or even in front of a fan. A good use for this is peppermint and DigestZen in the car to diminish motion sickness.
- Perfume, Cologne, Deodorant Smells good and is safe and healthy for your body (unlike normal perfumes and antiperspirants). For perfume or cologne, add 1-2 drops or dabs to the wrists, behind the ears or by dissolving 10-15 drops in 20-30 drops of vodka and 1 tsp of distilled water to mist on the body or clothing. For a natural deodorant, dab onto the underarms or mix 3-4 drops of your favorite oils with a tablespoon of coconut oil and apply a small amount to the underarms. (This is branching into topical usage of essential oils, so read below for more information and precautions on that.)
- Natural Room Deodorizer: Instead of harsh chemicals to cover up odors you can add essential oils to your odor removing efforts. For instance, you can create a room deodorizer by mixing a half cup of alcohol (such as vodka) with a half cup of distilled water, and 20-40 drops of your favorite essential oils in a decorative jar. Then add 10 or so bamboo skewers (like the ones you use for kebobs) to the mixture so that they are sticking out of the bottle. They will soak up the aroma and spread it throughout a bathroom easily.
Even though learning how to use essential oils aromatically is probably the easiesr and safest, it's still important to know your body, and pay attention to how it responds to the oils.
Learning how to use essential oils topically is a little more delicate, but still fairly simple. Please remember that although most essential oils can be used topically, HOW they are used will vary from oil to oil. Some come with precautions, but even those that don't can still affect some skin types, causing itchiness or a rash if not used properly.
Know your skin type. Do you tend to have sensitive skin? Then always dilute. Are you not sure? Test an area of your inner arm first.
All the doTERRA essential oils we offer include a simple visual guide to help you know how to use each oil:
- NEAT - NEAT means you can generally apply the oil in question directly to the skin without any dilution. However, it's always a good idea to patch test your own skin first, just in case.
- Sensitive - "Sensitive" means tha although some can apply the oil without any dilution, directly to the skin, those with sensitive skin should do a patch test or dilute before use. With these oils follow the dilution listed or use a guideline of 1 drop per 1-4 oz of carrier oil, such as coconut oil.
- DILUTE - These oils are very potent. It's important that you dilute them at least 1:3, as they can cause irritation to any skin type when applied directly.
When learning how to use essential oils topically, massage is one of the most enjoyable ways. Massaging the oils into joints, muscles and tissues is relaxing and beneficial. Always move toward the heart when working on the arms and legs and avoid a heavy hand or moving over the spine or other sensitive areas with too much pressure.
The next option is to apply the oils to the chest, behind the ears or directly over the area of concern (diluted as indicated).
- But probably the best, most effective and yet gentlest option on how to use essential oils for sensitive skin is to apply the oils to the reflex points of the feet, hands and ears. The feet especially are beneficial because of the large pore will allow the oil to absorb quickly to the body, but are tough enough to not cause irritation if your skin is prone to reactions.
The reflex points of the hands and feet also correspond to the different areas of the body by ways of the nervous system. Leaning how to use essential oils is made easy with visual guides to reflexology to understand which reflex points to massage the oil into based on your particular needs and uses.
Other ways you can learn how to use essential oils include:
- Auricular Therapy: Similar to acupuncture, acupressure or reflexology, auricular therapy stimulates small reflex points on and around the ears by massaging the essential oil into the area.
- Hot or Cold Compresses: Soak a cloth or towel in cool water with drops of your favorite essential oil. Place that cool compress over the area of concern, or wrap in a hot water bottle to use as a warm compress.
- Bathing, Foot Baths, Etc: You can add essential oil to your bathwater, to your favorite all-natural shampoo or body wash, to your bath salts, directly to your washcloth or to a foot bath to soak in.
- Personal Care: Essential oil uses include a natural deodorant (applied NEAT or diluted), as part of a skin care regimen, added to lotion or moisterizers and so on. Use as indicated.
Not all essential oil can be used internally. The FDA has approved certain ones for internal use, as "Generally Recognized as Safe". Each essential oil on our list will say whether or not it can be used internally. If so, read the following possible ways on how to use essential oils internally as inspiration.
- Cooking: Many oils, such as oregano, can be used in cooking or baking. Usually one drop is enough, although certain recipes may call for more. Start small at first.
- Drinking: We love to add peppermint or lemon to our water every day to help with digestion or energy, respectively. For single uses you can add one drop to a cup of rice milk, almond milk, or water and drink as needed.
- Supplemental: Add a drop to 1 tsp of honey to take as a supplement or you can even purchase empty capsules, and add the oils indicated to take daily. (Don't make these in advance as they will usually dissolve the capsules if not taken within moments.) You can also purchase specially formulated essential oil supplements from our online distributor's store.
- Vaginal Insertion: It's important that you know if you have any sensitivity to the oil - you don't want to find out this way. You can dilute the essential oil indicated in 2-3 tsp of carrier oil and insert with a vaginal syringe, then hold it in place with a tampon. Or you can soak the tampon in the mixture first then inserted for up to 8 hours. Another alternative is to add the oils to a sitz bath and sit in the water for 15-20 minutes or until the water has returned to room temperature.
- Anal Insertion: Again this should not be the first time you ever use the essential oil or else you might find out the hard way you're sensitive to it. You can insert the oils either by diluting as indicated and using a rectal syringe, or placing the oils in capsules and using as a suppository. The oils are typically retained for several hours or overnight.
How To Use Essential Oils Around the Home
Learning how to use essential oils around the home is last. We love to use essential oils in washing. We add a drop of the OnGuard blend to our sink when we're washing dishes. We also add essential oils to the washing machine, to the wet clothes before they go in the dryer or misted on fabric before they are line-dried.
Household essential oil uses include oils like lemon that will remove many stains, as well as gum, stickers and other residue from most surfaces.
Many oils have antiviral properties and can be added to natural homemade cleaners, such as sprays, carpet deoderizers, furniture polish (lemon specifically) and so on.
And some people even add oils or oil blends to household paint, craft paint or supplies, children's clay or dough, etc.
Use this guide and the information on individual oils to practice how to use essential oils in your home and life safely and effectively.
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Ready To Take More Sustainable Baby Steps?
Learning how to use essential oils can be a great step toward natural, healthy living in your home.
When you're ready for a few more steps check out the articles below.
Whatever step you take, remember to have fun!
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