Mindfulness & Anxiety

How to Use Essential Oils for Your Health and Home

By Justin Fowler-Lindner

For thousands of years, civilizations from the Egyptians to the Greeks have used essential oils to treat mental illness and fight disease.

But what does the latest research have to say?

As it turns out, the active compounds in essential oils can have profound effects on the nervous system, digestive system, and immune system.

You can use essential oils by…

  • Applying them topically
  • Inhaling them 
  • Ingesting them

Each essential oil has its own unique health benefits. Some are great for rubbing into the skin, and others are ideal for aromatherapy.

Here’s how to use essential oils to invigorate your health and home:

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly-concentrated aromatic compounds found in the organic matter of certain plants.

When cold-pressed, steam distilled, or otherwise extracted, they can have profound effects on human health.

Essential oils contain phytochemicals and terpenoids that readily pass through cell walls and cross the blood-brain barrier, making them highly absorbable via the skin, nose, and digestive system. 

3 Ways to Use Essential Oils to Enhance Your Health

Rub them on, breathe them in, or eat them up.

Here’s a closer look at the three ways to experience essential oils:

1. Apply Essential Oils Topically

When applied to the skin, essential oils can fight pain and heal the skin.

For example, peppermint oil is known for its ability to reduce pain.

Lavender oil, on the other hand, can speed wound healing and frankincense can heal age spots.

Other essential oils can treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema.

Start by testing an essential oil in small areas to see how your skin responds to it. One of the best ways to do this is to mix it with fatty vegetable oils called “carrier oils.”

Common carrier oils include:

They work by spreading the essential oils across a wider surface area and extending its aromatic effects. Diluting pure essential oils with carrier oils also helps reduce the risk of skin irritations or allergic reactions for those with sensitive skin.

2. Inhale Essential Oils

The modern-day science of aromatherapy was born in WWI when lavender oil was used to treat PTSD in soldiers.

However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that it became wildly popular in the United States. 

Today, you can find all sorts of candles, lotions, and essential oil diffusers: a convenient way to spread essential oils throughout your home.

Some of the most popular essential oils for this method include lavender, tea tree, and rosemary.

Studies show that diffusing lavender oil in the home may help postpartum women fight depression and get a better night’s sleep.

At the same time, a 2008 study found that lavender can reduce stress and improve sleep in very young infants.

When diffused, tea tree oil helps boosts immunity, and alleviate anxiety, as well as clear up congestion.

Rosemary oil is another good option that has shown to have positive effects on cognitive function and stress reduction.

3. Ingest Them

Certain essential oils, like peppermint oil, can have soothing effects on the gut when taken orally.

However, there are a few words of warning when ingesting essential oils:

  • Most essential oils aren’t food-grade and are only intended for topical and aromatic use. 
  • Never take essential oils for more than 1-2 weeks straight, and start with small amounts. 
  • The benefits (and side effects) of essential oils are in the dose. Taking too much oregano oil, for example, can damage the gut lining. However, a drop or two of oregano oil can reduce bacterial growth and boost immunity.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Home

Citrus oils are great natural household cleaners.

Lemon oil, for example, contains two powerful antimicrobial agents: limonene and b-pinene. Together, they make an effective natural cleaning tool.

By adding 2-3 drops of pure lemon oil to half a cup of water, you can make your own DIY cleaning product. Spray it on countertops and sinks to protect your home from harmful bacteria.

A 2017 study found that citrus oils may inhibit the growth of Listeria monocytogenes: a potentially harmful bacteria sometimes found in minced beef.

Other DIY home uses include:

  • Wood and silver polish
  • Goo-be-gone
  • Laundry
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Hand soap

Plus, by going all-natural, you’ll avoid the harsh chemicals found in conventional cleaning products.

Other popular essential oils for the home include tea tree oil, peppermint oil, pine oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil.

Popular Essential Oils and Their Health Benefits

  1. Peppermint: may improve gut health, relieve muscle pain, fight headaches, reduce fever, and boost energy
  2. Lavender: can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, heal wounds/burns, promote hair growth, and protect the brain. 
  3. Tea tree: can reduce dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis, fight acne, eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions, treat viral and bacterial infections, improve bad breath, and get rid of scabies.
  4. Eucalyptus: may support respiratory health and treat conditions like asthma, bronchitis, and airborne allergies. 
  5. Frankincense: supports immunity and brain function, fights inflammation, and kills cancer cells.
  6. Rose: can reduce skin inflammation, balance hormones, boost libido, treat sexual dysfunction, and reduce menstrual pains. 
  7. Myrrh: as a natural antiseptic, myrrh may reduce skin inflammation and prevent infection.
  8. Grapefruit: grapefruit oil may support metabolism and reduce cellulite. 
  9. Ginger: fights inflammation and is one of the best natural remedies for joint pain
  10. Rosemary: may improve memory, reduce cortisol, fight cancer, and treat hair loss.

And these are just a few of the essential oils that are out there.

From pain relief to chemical-free cleaning solutions, there are dozens of ways to use essential oils to enhance your health and home. Start by diffusing scents into a room, or add a few drops of essential oil to your next shower where the hot water can vaporize the aromas. But no matter how you choose to implement essential oils into your everyday routine, they have plenty of potential benefits to provide.

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