Labor Day Weekend Blessings To Everyone!
Already . . . fall is in the air here in coastal Maine. Sunny, breezy, 68 degrees - fabulous! Today we will continue our discussion of essential oils. I'll tell you how to do a "patch test" to check for potential allergic reactions prior to the usage of these oils and I'll describe 11 basic essential oils that you can use for skin and body care, healing of minor ailments, and also to clean and sweeten your home. Enjoy!
Essential Oil Precautions
Essential oils are highly concentrated, natural products and must be used with caution. To test for potential allergic reactions, try this patch test prior to using a new, unfamiliar essential oil on your skin or in your home for fragrancing and/or cleaning purposes.
1. In a small bowl, combine 1 or 2 drops of the essential oil in question and 1 teaspoon of base oil (jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, apricot kernel oil, hazelnut oil, safflower oil, etc.).
2. Apply a dab of the mixture to the underside of your wrist, the inside of your upper arm, behind your ear, or behind your knee. Wait 24 hours.
3. If no irritation develops such as a rash, redness, or itching, after 24 hours, the oil in question is generally safe for you to use. If irritation develops, do not use the oil and find a substitute if possible.
11 Basic Essential Oils
The following essential oils have many uses and should be included in the family medicine and cosmetic cabinets. I highly recommend that you use a few of these oils to replace harsh, environmentally unsound household cleaning products, too.
- Clove Bud (Eugenia aromaticum). A strong antibacterial, analgesic, and antiseptic. It is best known as a remedy for toothaches or as a scent in fall/winter potpourri. Place a single drop on the offending tooth and surrounding gum area for fast, temporary relief of pain - then see your dentist as soon as possible. Do not use this remedy more than 3x in 24 hours as clove essential oil can cause gum irritation. Clove can also be used, like orange and lemon essential oils, in household cleaning formulas.
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). This deeply penetrating, camphorous oil is a must-have if you're suffering from a head cold or respiratory infection. For relief of stuffiness and congested lungs, boil 4 cups of water, then remove from heat. Place pot onto a safe, stable surface. Add 4-6 drops of essential oil, make a tent over your head and pot with a towel, and inhale the healing vapors for 10 minutes. Be sure to close your eyes and avoid touching the hot pot. Keep face approximately 12 - 24 inches away from surface of pot.
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) or Spike Lavender (Lavandula spica). A mild, multipurpose oil that smells like an old-fashioned floral perfume. Simply inhaling this oil calms the mind, relaxes the body, and soothes the spirit. This antiseptic healing oil should be kept in every kitchen as a burn remedy. Immediately after receiving a burn, immerse the affected area in cold water or cold aloe vera gel, then apply a thin layer of lavender essential oil - undiluted if you wish. It will assist in rapid skin cell regeneration and help keep scarring to a minimum.
- Lemon (Citrus limonum). Has a familiar clean, fresh, invigorating scent. Use in the same applications as orange essential oil, mentioned above - in homemade household cleaning formulas. I'll give you a formula that you can make next week. Lemon essential oil is also beneficial for oily, acneic skin because if its astringent, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Add 10 drops to 1 cup of witch hazel extract, shake well, and use as a toner to remove excess sebum and residue after cleansing your skin. Avoid use if you have sensitive skin and substitute lavender essential or rose geranium essential oil instead.
- Moroccan blue chamomile (Tanacetum annuum). This is a blessing for those suffering from itchy, rashy, dry, or inflamed skin, or roseacea, as well as hives and poison oak or ivy. I like to add 10 drops to a 2-ounce container of skin cream and apply to affected areas as necessary. You may also use this blend as a daily facial moisturizer to keep skin clear, calm, and supple.
- Orange, sweet (Citrus sinensis). This oil is a great degreaser. You can also add 10 drops of essential oil to 8 ounces of witch hazel for an oily skin toner. Shake well before each use. Orange oil makes a great bathroom cleaning additive. Simply add 20 drops of essential oil to 1/2 cup of liquid castille soap and 1 cup of purified water. Use the solution to scrub the tub, sink, and toilet bowl. Makes a great kitchen sink and greasy grill cleaner as well.
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita). One of my favorites! Place a drop on your tongue as a breath freshener, or add a drop to a cup of peppermint tea for prompt indigestion relief. Add a few drops on a cotton ball and place on your car floor mat to keep your car smelling fresh! For an invigorating, stimulating antidandruff shampoo, add 20 drops to 8 ounces of quality natural shampoo; shake well, then shampoo as usual. It will leave your scalp feeling cool and tingly. To awaken a dull brain in mid-afternoon, inhale deeply directly from the essential oil bottle a few times.
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis verbenon). The verbenon chemotype is a terrific oil (very gentle form of rosemary) to stimulate your mind as well as your circulation. Add 20 drops to 8 ounces of moisturizing shower/bath gel or body lotion, shake well, and apply as usual. This antiseptic oil acts as a skin-cell regenerative and wound healer and opens sinus passages.
- Rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens). Smells like a rose garden - only a bit more sharp. I like to inhale the aroma directly from the bottle when I feel the need for revitalization. The oil has a balancing quality and helps relieve mental stress and fatigue.
- Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). A powerful, yet gentle-on-the-skin antiviral, antifungal, and broad-sepctrum antibacterial. To prevent or heal infection, apply a drop directly to scrapes, scratches, acne pimples, boils, or insect bites. For toenail fungus, apply a drop to affected toe(s) daily until healed. Fungus is stubborn and difficult to eradicate. This treatment may take several months to remedy the problem. Consistent application is key. NOTE: Please do not attempt to treat wounds / infections on your pets with tea tree oil. They - especially cats - can have violent reactions resulting in seizures, acute sickness, and even death. Please check with your vet or an experienced animal aromatherapy practitioner prior to using any essential oils on your pets.
- Thyme (Thumus vulgaris linalol). The linalol chemotype is a powerful - yet gentle to the skin - antiviral, antibiotic, and antiseptic. I recommend keeping the oil around during cold and flu season. Add a few drops to your vaporizer to cleanse and purify the air or purchase a nebulizing diffuser to slowly release the volatile oils into the surrounding atmosphere. Put a few drops onto a damp sponge before wiping down bathroom and kitchen surfaces; it will kill germs.
To help dry and heal pimples, combine 1 drop of thyme essential oil with 1/2 teaspoon of aloe vera juice. Then dab on each pimple with a cotton swab.
DISCLAIMER: The above article was adapted from the book, "How to Feel Fabulous Today!" by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2001. Additional essential oil information and formulations are available from her other book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", Storey Publishing, 2007. The information given is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Stephanie Tourles. Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only. Please use common sense when dealing with essential oils - read up on the subject matter and study any applicable precautions.