Why Essential Oils?
So what the heck are essential oils and are they just some hippie dippie BS? The answer is no, it’s not BS, and, holly donuts they really do work.
Essential oils are naturally occurring aromatic compounds found in the petals, stems, leaves, seeds and roots of a plant. These volatile compounds help the plant defend itself from various threats in its environment. You can basically think of essential oils as the highly concentrated extract of these oils that help the plants thrive. When we get these oils through a process called distillation, we are getting the pure essence of the plant, which can provide various therapeutic benefits. In my personal practice, I use essential oils for insomnia, meditation, anxiety, stress, aches and pain, menstrual discomfort, skin irritation, burns, allergies and much much more. The magical thing about essential oils is that they have the power to support your physical, emotional and mental health. Plus, it’s super easy to incorporate into your daily self care routine!
How do I use Essential Oils for Self Care?
We live in a time where we’re chronically stressed, busy, and tired. Anxiety and depression has skyrocketed in the past decade, making it pretty clear that our modern lifestyle is not conducive to relaxation and peace. This means that we have to be intentional about finding peace and calm in our daily lives. I’m a big advocate for practicing mini self-care rituals that are sprinkled throughout the course of your day. They may be simple things that only take about 5 – 15 seconds, but when done regularly, they can shift the needle of how you feel. And that’s where essential oils come in.
There are three ways to use essential oils – aromatically, topically, and internally. Aromatic use simply means you smell the oils – you can do this by diffusing some essential oils with a diffuser, or putting a few drops of essential oil on your palms and taking a deep breath in. Easy right? Only takes about 5 seconds! This works because: When you inhale an essential oil, the aroma meets your brain in the olfactory bulb, which triggers a series of chemicals that can affect your mood. For topical use, you can simply apply the oils directly over your skin. If you have sensitive skin or are applying it to a larger area of the body, consider mixing the essential oil with a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil.) Lastly, for internal use, you can mix a few drops of oils in water and drink it as part of your daily wellness routine, or you can put some oils in a veggie capsule and ingest it if you don’t want to taste the oils in your mouth. If you are mixing oils with water, make sure you use a glass or ceramic container (avoid plastic!)
What oils are good for Anxiety?
Lavender – There’s a reason why Lavender is called the gateway oil. Lavender is a natural sedative, so definitely keep this one handy if you deal with a lot of anxiety or sleep issues. Lavender is also an astringent and natural pain reliever, which makes it a great oil to use for any cuts and scrapes. I also recommend using lavender for any skin related issues – acne, burns, bug bites, rashes… you name it. Apply a few drops of lavender on the affected area regularly to help restore the health of your skin.
Rose – well known as an emotionally healing oil. Rose essential oil can support you through depression, grief, shock, as well as panic attacks. If you are dealing with a lot of emotional pain and anxiety, try putting a couple of drops around your heart space, or on your pillow before you go to sleep.
Vetiver – One of my favorites! Vetiver is a very thick oil and the smell is quite strong, so for some people it might take some getting used to. This oil is a powerful antioxidant and a nervous system tonic, which means it can help reduce jitteriness, restlessness and anxiety. Vetiver is also a good one for shock and panic attacks as it has a deeply grounding and reassuring scent. Researchers are looking into the possibility of vetiver serving as an effective natural remedy for ADHD.
Ylang Ylang – Ylang Ylang is my go-to oil for sadness, fear, anxiety, depression and chronic stress. As a hypotensive and antidepressant, Ylang Ylang has the ability to lower your blood pressure and provide emotional support during challenging times. It’s also a natural sedative, helping you find relief from stress and anxiety.
Frankincense – Ah. Frankincense. I call this one the super oil. Frankincense is one of the most versatile oils out there and its uses are countless! Frankincense is a natural sedative that helps promote feelings of peace, relaxation and calm. It also has the ability to enhance the benefits of any other oil it’s mixed with, so I like to mix frankincense with lavender in the evenings to help me feel extra calm and centered. This is by far one of my favorite oils to diffuse for my meditation practice. An effective immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic oil, Frankincense is a great one to use regularly to boost your immune system. Next time you have a cold, try taking a warm bath with Frankincense (2 drops), Wild Orange (2 drops) and Eucalyptus (1 drop.)
How can I incorporate essential oils in my yoga practice?
Put a few drops on your wrists, back of your neck, under your nose, or on your temples before you start your practice. If you are practicing at home, you can diffuse the oil to receive it’s aromatic benefits.
If you are a yoga teacher, you can use essential oils while you make savasana adjustments to your students (make sure you get consent first.) Or if your studio has a diffuser, you can diffuse the oil to create a calming environment for your students.
What are your favorite oils and why?
Here are the oils I make sure I never run out of:
- Peppermint – for respiratory issues, pain/aches/headache relief, energy boost
- Frankincense – skin restoration, scar prevention, meditation, anxiety
- Lavender – sleep, anxiety, skin health, hair health
- Cedarwood – calming, sleep, menstrual health, dental health
- Melaluca (Tea Tree) – fighting infections, cleaning mats, mold prevention, acne
- Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Bergamot – I just love anything citrusy! Great energy and mood boosters 🙂
- Oregano – for all things immune related. My go to oil if I get sick.
Where should I buy oils?
Essential oils are not regulated at all, so it can be tricky understanding what you are buying as a consumer. When a bottle says “therapeutic grade oil” it actually means nothing. Similar to the term “natural” with foods – it’s just a marketing term. And if a bottle says “100% pure essential oil” that just means that 10% of the bottle needs to be pure oil – and the rest of the bottle can be filled with any filler. Kind of crazy right?
So how do you know that the oils you are buying is actually pure and fairly sourced? It’s important to do your research and find out which companies are ensuring the best quality.
This is why I get doTERRA oils for my personal healing practice.
doTERRA conducts rigorous testing on all of their oils to ensure that their oils are the highest quality. To ensure transparency, they have a system where you can look up the test results of your oils by searching the unique ID on your bottle. Their oils are sourced from areas around the world where the plants grow best, and each bottle is 100% oil with no filler whatsoever. doTETTA also has a co-impact sourcing model (sort of like fair trade coffee) where the farmers are getting paid a fair wage, and the aim to build partnerships with grower where they are empowering communities instead of taking advantage of their resources.
Here’s a helpful review of some of the leading essential oil companies you can buy from.
Any other advice?
Start slow and enjoy the journey of learning more about oils at your own pace! It can be a lot to digest everything at once. Start incorporating a few oils to begin with, and then see how you feel. Similar to yoga, intention is everything — your openness to receive the healing benefits of the oils is the key to success!
If you want to learn more about what oils might be a good match for you, I am happy to meet with you one-on-one for a free consultation 🙂