Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Top 5 Essential Oils

I love essential oils, and there are just so many of them! They can be incredibly beneficial when used correctly, but many people do not know of their benefits. Essential oils can also be costly, so I made a little list of the 5 essential oils that I always keep in my herb drawer ( yes, I have an herb drawer; more on that later). Disclaimer: I am not stating that these are the BEST of the oils, simply that these are my favorite from the ones I have tried thus far. I am always open to new suggestions on YOUR favorites! I am also not a doctor, so please consult yours before starting these!

 First, let’s go into what essential oils are and their benefits. Essential oils are basically oils that are extracted from the stem, seeds, roots, flowers and bark of different plants. Not only do they smell heavenly, but the oils also help to protect against predators and disease. When this was discovered, people started using these oils on themselves. For example, “Egyptians used essential oils extensively in medical practice, beauty treatment, and food preparation. Greeks also used essential oils for therapeutic massage and aromatherapy, while Romans used them to promote health and personal hygiene”- doTERRA essential oils. In other words, they can be used to treat, prevent, and heal many things with our bodies. Rashes, cuts, burns, mouth sores, ear infections, colds, sore muscles, hormonal imbalance, reproductive issues, nausea, fear, nervousness, depression- and that’s just to name a few!

And here are my Top 5:

Thieves Oil: This is currently my absolute FAVORITE oil. Not only is it so useful, but the story behind it is pretty neat too! It is believed that back in medieval times when people were deathly ill with the black plague, there were thieves that would simply wander into homes and steal everything the family owned. Unable to defend themselves because they were so sick, the people often watched it happen. After a while, these thieves were finally caught and brought to the king. The king made a deal with them, that if they could tell him their secret to staying well and not catching the plague, he would set them free. This was their secret- an essential oil blend of cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary.
Because of it’s wide array of properties to protect and restore the immune system, it has become one of the most powerful home remedies against illness. It can treat/prevent the flu, colds, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, sore throat, strep, toothache, cuts, poison ivy, and it can work as an immune stimulant. I recently learned that it can also be used as a disinfectant and household cleaner! It has a 99.96 percent kill rate for bacteria!
I have a small bottle of thieves oil (that's a lie... I have 3), and I often put a few drops in my hand and gently rub it across my chest, neck, and behind my ears if I am going somewhere that is full of people or I am being exposed to illness. I have started to do the same thing with my daughter. Since the day she was born, everytime I take her out in public with other people or babies (the gym, mommy groups, church), I put it on the bottoms of her feet, across her chest, and behind her ears. I only use about 3 drops to cover her (and you may need to use a carrier oil like Coconut oil), and it makes me feel good knowing that she is protected. It puts off a strong smell, like cinnamon usually, so don’t let that bother you. Thieves oil can also go by other names: it is called “OnGuard” by doTERRA and “Germ Fighter” by Plant Therapy.

Tea Tree Oil: I grew up using tea tree oil on everything that my mother could get her hands on! Tea Tree Oil, also known as melaleuca, is also used to fight illness. The indigenous people of Australia began using it to treat coughs, colds, sore throats, and skin ailments. It also has high antimicrobial activity, making it more effective in healing these things than many modern medicines and antibiotics. In recent studies, it has been found that tea tree oil possesses antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic qualities.
As I child, I remember using tea tree oil to treat athlete’s foot (my brother's!), canker sores (it would heal them overnight!), acne, and head lice. Have you seen Tea Tree Oil Shampoo? It also is an effective treatment for dandruff- plus it smells good! I also have this on hand just waiting for Piper’s first ear infection. By diluting it a bit with a carrier oil, I can pour it directly into her ear to kill infection. EDITED 6-14-14: I have been using it the past few days on Piper's cheeks and legs as her eczema has gotten much worse! It's helping to heal it and clear it up.

Eucalyptus: Everyone loves the smell of eucalyptus- especially when you feel sore or stuffy. Eucalyptus oil  can be used to treat allergies, asthma, bronchitis, cold, congestion, cough, emphysema, endometriosis (wow), flu, hay fever, hypoglycemia, poison ivy, and pneumonia. I always keep this on-hand to add to my humidifier when I am fighting a cold or allergies. This is also the primary essential oil used in wet steam rooms to help clear your sinuses and comfort achy muscles. Diffusers are probably the safest and most effective way to use essential oils in a room, because sometimes the oils can crack plastic humidifiers. I am looking into purchasing one, but haven’t gotten there yet!  This oil is also relatively affordable- I recently purchased a large bottle of it (2oz) for about $15 at Sprouts. Not bad, huh?

Peppermint: This is my second favorite runner-up if I don’t have any eucalyptus. I often add it to my humidifier in addition to eucalyptus, or instead if I have to. Sometimes I will even rub a *tiny* amount under my nose, or on my chest before I go to bed. Before to not do too much- it could burn you! You can also use a carrier oil (see below) to help dilute the oil. Peppermint is neat because it can also be used INTERNALLY to treat certain ailments. It can treat allergies, asthma, Bell’s Palsy, fatigue, congestion, diarrhea, fever, fainting, heartburn (interesting), hypothyroidism, joint pain, morning sickness (yes!), headaches, and many more. I also remember my doula putting a little bit on a washcloth during my labor to help combat my nausea and headache. She would hold it near my face or put it over my shoulder so that I could inhale it. It really works!

Lavender: Is there anyone that doesn’t love lavender!? I have alway used lavender for it’s calming effects, like adding it to my bath at night or using it in a carrier oil during a massage to relax my muscles and mind. However, I recently learned that lavender is an effective treatment for minor burns, insect bites, stings, sunburn and sunstroke! It can also be used to treeat diaper rash, ear infections (yes!), eczema, insomnia, itching, measles, and stress. Mamas, I see many reasons to have this around for baby! Am I the only one?

I recently used these last 3 oils in a project that I found on Pinterest to create homemade “Vicks Shower Disks”. The recipe called for rosemary instead of peppermint, but I used what I already had. It is basically a little disk made with these three oils, baking soda and water. You let them harden (or bake them), and then put one on the floor of your shower while you are washing. They are supposed to help make it steamier and clear your head and sinuses when you are feeling yucky! My first batch was too watery, but still seemed to work a bit. My husband and I both tried them, but they dissolved too quickly! I think I will bake the next batch and see if that is any different. Here is the recipe:


One last thing: A carrier oil is a vegetable oil that helps to dilute and “carry” essential oils into the skin. Sometimes essential oils can cause irritation when applied directly to the skin, so carrier oils are used to prevent discomfort and help your skin to absorb the oils more easily. There are MANY oils that you can use, but the common ones in my household (and my mom’s) are: coconut oil, sweet almond oil, kukui oil, grapeseed oil,  and olive oil. Like I said, there are many others you can use also. I use a carrier sometimes when I want to apply something to the baby’s skin or when I get a massage (few and far between).

Recently, a representative from doTERRA essential oils came to speak at Inn Mommies, and they had so many fantastic products and oils. I also trust Young Living. I have just discovered Plant Therapy- it’s one that I am getting ready to form an opinion on! I have used a few from Sprouts, and they worked just fine. I grew up using Nature’s Sunshine essential oils and herbs- so they will always be my favorite!

Have fun exploring the wonderful world of essential oils!