A breakdown on how to use essential oils, why I love them, what the research says about them, and where to find them. Happy Monday, friends!
A few weeks back I wrote a post about what to do when you’re not feeling mindful and in that post I revealed the investments I made in myself and self care tactics I used to feel better and more like me. One of those investments was essential oils. When I shared that I was using essential oils, a few of you said you’d love to learn more about how I’m using them and what I’m using them for. Request. Granted.
I first was introduced to essential oils by my RD friend Jessi when she held an essential oils class and educated us about how she was using the oils and we had the opportunity to sample them. Needless to say I was smelling all the smells. It was a little oil overload but that’s because I used like 20 different oils at once, which I would not recommend doing.
I had great intentions to purchase some essential oils after her workshop but time got away from me and it just kept getting pushed further and further down the to-do list. Fast forward six months to this fall and I came down with an awful cold, not once, but twice. And I’m such a baby when I’m sick. I revert to childlike dependent tendencies like whoa (sorry, Steve). After the cold x2, I was like screw this – I refuse to be sick all winter long. Time to go back to the oils.
So I reached out to my friend and asked for her recommendation for a starter kit. She uses Doterra essential oils and recommended the Family Physician Kit, which includes six essential oils and four essential oil blends (15ml).
And so The Family Physician Kit I purchased! And (knock on wood), I have not gotten sick since using them. Even while living with someone who has been sick the past two weeks. What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are extracted from the seed, peel, bark, flower or stem of aromatic plants using steam distillation and are thought to affect the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls your emotions and behaviors.
Which essential oils do I use?
- Deep Blue Soothing Blend
- Breathe Respiratory Blend
- DigestZen Digestive Blend
- On Guard Protective Blend
How do I use essential oils?
- Lavender: Relaxation and tension relief. I usually rub one drop of lavender oil on my temples if I have a headache, am feeling stressed, or am having difficulty sleeping at night. I kid you not one sniff of the lavender at night and I’m out cold. I went to bed one night and put the lavender on before getting into bed. Steve came into the room two minutes after I had gone down to ask me a question and I was OUT. I’ve also used the lavender oil in baking and the floral taste is delicious!
- Lemon: Mood lifter and respiratory system/allergies support. I use a combination of lemon, peppermint, and lavender for my allergies (per my friend’s reco). I will put a drop of each on my hand, rub my hands together, and smell my hands like it’s going out of style, kind of like Mary Katherine Gallagher style (you know, Molly Shannon SNL superstar skit, only I swear I’m not smelling my armpits). And after a few deep inhales through the nose, I’m cleared out. It really does help open up your sinuses. Other people use lemon oil in their DIY cleaning sprays and furniture polishes but I haven’t tried that just yet. I’ve been experimenting baking with the lemon oil too and love it so far.
- Peppermint: Mood lifter, oral health, GI upset, and respiratory support. You can use peppermint oil to support oral health by using it with water as a mouthwash. Or, you can add a drop to water for digestive discomfort. It’s also used for respiratory support through inhalation. So far, I’ve only used the peppermint oil in combination with the lemon and lavender for allergy relief. I would use it for GI upset but I have DigestZen for that for now (see below).
- Melaleuca (aka tea tree oil): Purify. Can apply topically onto skin irritations or add a couple drops to your facial wash for a cleansing boost. I haven’t used this one much except when I applied it to a rash I had on my finger and I’m convinced it actually made it worse 🙁 Turns out tea tree oil is really only supposed to be used for fungal-type infections.
- Oregano: Immune function. Oregano has been used for years for its cleansing and immune boosting properties because of its two main phenol properties: carvacol and thymol. It’s a very strong oil though due to its high phenol content so you don’t want to apply it directly to your skin, instead dilute it with coconut oil before using topically. When I feel like I need a little extra immune support, I’ll rub diluted oregano on the heels of my feet before bed. If you have sensitive skin, I’d recommend applying all oils to the heels of your feet to avoid any irritation. I especially wouldn’t recommend rubbing oregano on your neck because you will legit smell like a pizza. If that’s your thing though, by all means… 🙂
- Frankincense: Mood lifter, skin rejuvenator, relaxation. Frankincense is the best smelling oil, IMO. I’ve just used frankincense as a relaxant/mood lifter. And I’ve even combined it with lavender for ultimate tension relief. Like lavender, I’ll just rub this on my temples or will sniff it Mary Katherine Gallagher style.
- Deep Blue Soothing Blend: Muscle tension relief. This blend contains Wintergreen Leaf, Camphor Bark, Peppermint Plant, Blue Tansy Flower, Blue Chamomile Flower, Helichrysum Flower, and Osmanthus Flower essential oils, so it has a very cooling and soothing affect. I’ve diluted this one with coconut oil before to use as a massage oil for self-massage or for fiance-given-massage. Either is lovely. 🙂 Apply this one to your wrists, neck and shoulders after a long day at the computer. Your tense muscles will thank you.
- Breathe Respiratory Blend: Respiratory support. This blend contains Laurel Leaf, Eucalyptus Leaf, Peppermint Plant, Melaleuca Leaf, Lemon Peel, Ravensara Leaf, and Cardamom Seed essential oils and is supposed to help open up your airways and protect you from seasonal allergies and respiratory distress. I love using the Breathe blend because I have really bad allergies all year round and I’ll often wake up or go to bed feeling congested and the Breathe oil helps to clear my airways. I’ve rubbed this one on my neck/chest and I’ve also diffused it in the air. Any of these oils can be diffused with a diffuser but I haven’t used my diffuser since getting paranoid about my cat inhaling them #crazycatladyproblems. I will say that the combo of lemon + peppermint + lavender clears me out more than the Breathe blend though. But the Breathe is a nice quick option if I’m not crazy congested. It also helps me pass the eff out too. It’s nice taken at night to help promote a restful night sleep.
- DigestZen Digestive Blend: Digestive support. This blend includes Ginger Rhizome/Root, Peppermint Plant, Caraway Seed, Coriander Seed, Anise Seed, Tarragon Plant, and Fennel Seed essential oils to help soothe the stomach and promote overall digestive health. So far I’ve added a drop of DigestZen to water before a big meal, i.e. Thanksgiving to promote health digestion and reduce cramps, gas, bloating etc. And I’ve also used it reactively – if something I eat upsets my stomach, I’ll take it right away and usually see some relief.
- On Guard Protective Blend: Immune support. This blend contains Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils and has warm, spicy, and woody aromatics. I take On Guard topically and orally to help support immune function. For the oil, I’ll just rub it on my neck and I always feel like I’m putting on some shield that will protect me from all the germs. I’ll rub this on my neck before a flight…because..airplane germs. And I’ll take the capsules orally as well. I tend to use On Guard as a maintenance immune function routine and then the oregano when I feel like I’m starting to come down with something or am trying to get over something or when my sick fiance is coughing all over me. 🙂
Is there research out on essential oils?
Yes and no. Some oils have been studied more than others but the good news is there’s a lot of promising evidence that these oils can really help. So, which oils have made the research cut?
Oregano has been shown to have anti-parasitic properties and wild orange and melaleuca have anti-fungal properties .
Lavender has been well-studied for its relaxation effects and even has shown some promising results for insomnia and headaches.
Peppermint oil may be effective to reduce abdominal cramps, gas and bloating associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and may also help relieve tension headaches.
Where do you find essential oils?
So I mentioned before that right now I’m using Doterra Oils, which were recommended to me by my friend. You have to sign up to be a wellness advocate to purchase them wholesale though, which can be a little complicated. I also heard recently on a podcast someone recommend Rocky Mountain Oils, which I believe are less expensive and a little less mainstream, perhaps? You can also find essential oils at health food stores and some Whole Foods Markets. You just want to make sure you vet the company so you know you’re getting pure oils that aren’t contaminated with heavy metals or other impurities.
I personally highly recommend using essential oils. Professionally, I also recommend them as an alternative and complementary practice even though the research is still out on some of these oils. Anecdotally, they’ve been working for me, so I feel confident saying that they’ll work well for others too 🙂
And since it’s the holidays and the season of giving, give yourself some love and get some oils! Or, give them to a loved one who you think might enjoy them.
Any other questions? Just leave a comment below! I’m certainly no essential oil expert but I can do my best to try to answer them!
Tell me, have you ever tried using essential oils? What’s been your experience with them?
Full disclaimer: I’m not set up with Doterra to receive commission on oil purchases. I just wanted to spread the essential oil love this season.
I’m a nutrition coach and yoga teacher helping people to learn to love food again. I love cooking, taking pictures of my food and traveling around the world. Follow my blog for delicious, seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more yoga and mindfulness into your life. And check out my e-book to learn how to improve your health through nutrition and yoga. Show me what deliciousness you make! Tag me @karalydonRD on Instagram.