Sunday, 2 November 2014

Essential Oils for Beginners by Kate Wojtkowski

Essential Oils – The basics    

What are they?
You may have seen these tiny little bottles with big price tags in all sorts of pharmacy’s, health stores and cosmetic stores. Youhave experienced their wonderful fragrances during an aromatherapy massage, or read about them being used forhealing, anointing or as gifts in The Bible, but what are they really?

Essential oils are the highly concentrated, fat soluble, volatile liquid that comes from various parts of plants. They are either steam distilled or cold pressed from leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, bark, roots or resins.  They are what give each plant their aromatic properties and the ability to heal itself.

How do they work?
To understand how essential oils work, we need to get into a bit of chemistry.
When these plants are carefully distilled their chemistry remains intact in the essential oils. There are 14 main categories of constituents found in essential oils. A few examples of these constituents are alkanes, phenols, monoterpenes andsesquiterpenes. Some of these have antiseptic qualities, some have immune support qualities, some help balance hormones and some are more antifungal etc.

Each essential oil has a spectrum of these constituents. This is why some essential oils are more effective as antiseptics and others are more effective as antidepressants. Essential oils have the ability to heal us in many ways. 

There are many studies being done on the effects of fragrances on our brainThey have an impact on memory, emotions and more. The theory goes that when a fragrance is inhaled, theairborne odor molecules travel up the nostrils to the olfactory epithelium. The olfactory receptors send impulses to theolfactory bulb which allows us to perceive many smells. The olfactory bulb then transmits impulses to the other parts of the brain including the limbic system. This is where emotional 
memories are stored and is directly connected to the parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. So you can begin to see the picture of how inhaling certain oils can benefit us.
Examples; Rosemary EO can help you retain information while studying and improve mental clarity. Lavender EO can be calming and relaxing. Peppermint EO can stimulate your mind and help you remember. It is also good for headaches and nausea. Orange EO and other citrus essential oils, can help uplift mood.

The molecules of essential oils are so small and their fat-soluble structure is similar to our cell membranes so they have the ability to penetrate the cell membranes and travel throughout ourblood and tissuesThis is said to bring oxygen to our cells and restore them by neutralizing any foreign 
Many essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobialand antiviral properties which makes essential oils a great addition to your first aid kit.
Examples; Tea Tree EO is one of the most antimicrobial and antiseptic essential oils – often used to heal cold sores and yeast infections. Marjoram EO has muscle relaxing properties. Lemongrass EO improves circulation and promotes lymph flow. Lavender EO is another great antiseptic and is often used for healing skin conditions.

For those of you who enjoy some time out, walking on the beach, or in the forest, or  just some  well needed rest. For many of us it is more like that 5 minutes of 
silence when baby goes to bed. There are even essential oils that can enhance that. With everything 
we have going on around us, we NEED to take some me Time. We can benefit from the fragrance influences of essential oils when we ‘take time’ for ourselves. While fresh green type essential oils
help uplift our mind, the woody earthy type essential oils calm our soul.
Examples; Frankincense EO is often used for spiritual awareness in time of prayer (This was also a gift to Jesus when he was born. At that time it was worth more than gold.) Cederwood EO has a grounding effect. Vetiver EO has a calming and stabilizing effect. (And is being used by many parents with kids with attention deficit disorders- it helps the kids settle and focus.)

Essential oil safety!
Its natural so it cant hurt me, right? WRONG!
These oils are highly concentrated. A little bit goes a long way. Always dilute them with a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oilor castor oil. Putting a tiny drop of lavender oil on baby’s feet is ok but if you want to rub it on his back, mix it with a few drops of carrier oil. Or rub some carrier oil on his back first and then rub in a drop of essential oil.
Read the label – most brands will tell you to dilute 1:1 or 1:4. Some oils can cause skin irritation (eg. Clove and oregano) so ifan oil burns your skin apply any vegetable oil to dilute it, not water. If an essential oil is ingested accidentally drink milk or cream and call poison control.
Citrus oils are photosensitive so don’t put them on your skin if you plan on going out in the sun. They can cause a bad sunburn in that area.
While pregnant or breastfeeding be very cautious. Some oils can cause you to go into labour or dry up your milk supply. There are many websites that talk about which ones are safe for pregnancy and lactation.
Always store your essential oils in cool, dark places to prevent oxidation. You can store citrus essential oils in the fridge.

How do I use them?
There are different ways to use essential oils depending on what you need them for;

Rub on skin with a carrier oil for a sore tummy, a cold, baby massage, foot rub, shoulder tension etc.
Add a few drops of essential oil to a quarter cup of Epsom salts and add to the bath. (Adding the oils to the Epsom salts first helps disperse the oils in the water instead of having them float on the top.)
Apply a small amount directly to a wound.

1 drop of essential oil in a glass of milk or a teaspoon ofhoney.
A few drops in an empty vegetable capsule with some coconut or olive oil. This is only for brands that have a food supplement label. Many labels say not to ingest.

You can add oils to a cold mist humidifier or ultrasonicdiffuser. They all work by adding room temperature purified water with a few drops of essential oil into the machine which breaks up the oil and water molecules into a cool mist which fills the room with a wonderful smell. The EO molecules linger in the room for a few hours after the machine is turned off.
Add a drop of essential oil to a cotton ball and place in air vents.
Any diffuser that uses heat will still produce a nice fragrance but all the healing properties are lost when the oil is heated.

Direct inhalation
This is by adding a drop of EO into your hands, rubbing them together and cupping your hands 
over your nose and taking deep breaths. You can also place a few drops of essential oils into a bowl of hot water, lean over the bowl with a towel over your head and breath deep.

My TOP 5 essential oils:

Lavender (lavandula angustifolia)
This is the ‘swiss-army-knife’ of essential oils. When in doubt, use lavender!
It is great for all sorts of boo-boo’s – cuts, scrapes, bruises,bug bites. You can apply a drop directly to the wound.
Run a drop in your hands then rub your hands over baby’s sheets and pillow to help them sleep well.
Place a tiny drop on the bottoms of baby’s feet
Diffuse lavender for a calm, stress free environment.
A few drops in Epsom salts in the bath to calm kids before bed.

Tea Tree (melaleuca alternifolia)
Antiseptic – use on cuts, scrapes, burns, cold sores. Apply directly.
A few drops in Epsom salts in the bath when sick
Add a few drops to hair while conditioning to prevent lice. (Or put a few drops in a spray bottle with water and spray in hair before school)
Can help in treatment of yeast or fungal infections – a few drops in epsom salts and in the bath
Add a drop to salt water and gargle for sore throat or use in sinus rinse for sinus infections

Eucalyptus Radiata
Rub on chest and back with a carrier oil instead of vicks. – helps clear respiratory congestion  
Diffuse during a cold
Kills house dust mites – place a few drops in a container with a cup of bicarbonate of soda, put 
the lid on and shake well. Sprinkle the mixture on carpets and rub it in. Let it sit for an hour 
then vacuum.
Lemon (citrus limon)
Diffuse or directly inhale to uplift mood. Diffusing can help disinfect the air.
A small tub with bicarbonate of soda and a few drops of lemon essential oil will neutralize bad odors in the fridge
Removes sticky residue from labels
1 drop in a teaspoon of honey, followed by a tall glass of water can help detox and cleanse the body
Some people like to add 1 drop to their water as a flavorant. Be sure to use it in a glass container as lemon EO can break down plastic. Also make sure you are using a brand that is approved as a dietary supplement.
Peppermint (menthe piperita)

Diffuse or directly inhale to stimulate the brain and give you energy
Helps with headaches nausea and motion sickness – place a drop on a cotton ball and sniff
Directly inhale to clear sinuses
Can lower a fever by adding a few drops to a warm bath.
A drop in a teaspoon of honey can help ease digestive problems and freshens breath  

Where to find them and how to pick them?
So, now that you know more about essential oils and want to add some to your first aid kit, how do you pick a brand?
I found a great quality brand that I love, here in America. I love it so much I signed up as a wholesale member to get my oils at a discounted price.
When picking essential oils, you get what you pay for. Many companies are able to sell their products at a lower price because they are diluted with other oils or alcohols or chemicals were used in the distillation process to get a larger quantity. If your local stores offer samples, smell as many different brands as you can. ‘Bad’ oils generally have a fragrance that jumps out at you and stops in your nose while quality oils have a fragrance that draws you in and lingers, and kind of moves through your body. Once you find a brand you like, check out their website and quality standards and try and find out where they are sourcing their oils. Are the plants they are using grown in their native 
environment? Are they organic? Are they distilling their plants at low temperatures? These are factors that influence the quality of the essential oil. High quality essential oils have a bigger spectrum of chemical constituents which makes it more powerful and more diverse.

Many essential oil companies have pre-diluted blends specifically for children. These are great because they offer a variety of EO’s in one bottle and they are already diluted which makes them safer and ready to use without a carrier oil.
Please keep in mind…
Essential oils are not a miracle treatment, they work with our bodies to maintain its natural balance and functions. Each individual will respond differently to the oils depending on what his/her body needs.

They say that if you are repulsed by an essential oil then that means your body needs it, and if you love a particular fragrance of oil, that means your soul needs it.

Want more information?
There are many blogs and websites dedicated to essential oils. One of my favourite websites is PubMed – they post articles of scientific research and experiments that have been conducted using essential oils.
For example, In this article  basil and rosemary essential oils were tested against strains of Ecoli.Make sure you type in the botanical name.

I also love this website for its information of how each oil benefits us.

Please feel free to make contact with. Kate