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What the Nose Knows: Essential Oils

I promise not to get too nerdy on you, but… Did you know that up until quite recently, scientists had assumed our sense of smell was quite basic? Newer research, however, suggests that we can actually discern a trillion different scents! Perhaps it has to do with the fact that our olfactory system resides in the subconscious parts of our brains. And essential oils are some of the most powerful substances we can use to stimulate our sense of smell, and also improve our health!

In other words, we’re picking up a lot more through smell than we realize! 

One study using PET scans showed that when we smell another person, the parts of our brain associated with social processing light up. So… whether we know it or not, we’re using our sense of smell for all kinds of things.

Which begs the question, what else can we use our sense of smell for?

Improving your health! 

In fact, science has already shown us that certain smells can:

  • Improve memory
  • Reduce pain
  • Alleviate nausea
  • Improve mood
  • Increase focus, and
  • Improve digestion

So… what the heck should you start smelling in order to reap benefits like these?? 

So glad you asked!

Essential oils are the perfect way to put your sense of smell to work for you. 

What Exactly Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts. 

Imagine hundreds (or thousands) of pounds of plants, compressed into a single pound of liquid — that’s how essential oils are made! 

These incredibly potent oils can then be diluted & applied to the skin, dispersed through the air in your home, or even used to make homemade soaps & cleaning products. 

When using an essential oil on your skin, be sure to use a “carrier oil”. Carrier oils are used to dilute & “carry” the essential oil into your skin. I love using coconut oil because it contains skin-nourishing fatty acids & polyphenols, and is probably something we already have in your pantry.

Create Your Essential Oils Starter Kit

Now that you know what essential oils are, how the heck should you get started with them to improve your health? 

Here are the steps I suggest: 

  1. Pick 5 oils from the list below, based on your personal health goals.
  2. Order your oils from a reputable source.  We carry Doterra oils in the office, but you may also like Revive, Young Living, Ameo, or Plant Therapy oils.
  3. Order a carrier oil for dilution (avocado, almond, jojoba, argan, coconut, etc…)  If you’re shopping with Doterra, many of the oils have a “Touch” version, which comes already diluted in a rollerball!
  4. Order some glass containers to make your own blends:  roller bottles, spray bottles, etc…(I love the roller bottles!)
  5. Order a small diffuser for use in your home office or bedroom. 

You’ll notice that the products I linked above are from Mountain Rose Herbs. It’s a wonderful source of bulk herbs and teas, and holistic gift items, too!  You might also like the variety on the Aroma Tools website.  However, their shipping takes a good bit longer.  :/

Okay, time to pick your oils! 

These are my personal favorites, and I’ve listed the health benefits for which they are best well-known. 

1. Lavender 

The classic scent of lavender oil hardly needs an introduction, but it can be described as floral and softly evergreen. Lavender has been shown to promote sleep & relaxation and help people to wake up feeling refreshed. Studies have even shown it can help lower blood pressure and heart rate.  

2. Peppermint 

Peppermint oil has a fresh, minty scent. It can help reduce fatigue & enhance memory.

3. Eucalyptus 

Eucalyptus oil has a clean, woodsy, minty scent. It can help decrease congestion & headaches and improve mental clarity.  

4. Wild Orange 

Who doesn’t know the sweet, bright smell of orange? Sweet orange oil can help lift the spirits, increase energy, reduce anxiety, and possibly alleviate symptoms of PTSD.

5. Lemon 

This clean, citrus scent is the equivalent of sunshine in a bottle. Not only is it the ultimate mood booster, lemon oil can help purify & freshen the air. This is my favorite for homemade cleaners!

6. Tea Tree (Melaleuca)

Tea tree oil has a green, woodsy, medicinal scent. It has antimicrobial properties and is another great option for purifying the air in your home or office. 

7. Frankincense 

Sometimes called the king of oils, the use of frankincense dates back to biblical times. It has a sweet, warm, woodsy scent. Studies show it can help with respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis, and it can even help relieve pain associated with cluster headaches.  

8. Clary Sage 

Clary sage oil has an earthy, floral, fruity scent. It’s a wonderful oil for reducing stress, and it has been shown to reduce blood pressure and respiratory rate. It can also help enhance focus and memory. 

9. Jasmine 

Jasmine oil has an exotic, floral scent. It can boost your mood, and it may have aphrodisiac properties

10. Sandalwood

Sandalwood oil has a sweet, dry, woodsy scent. It has been used to help alleviate depression and improve focus.  

Putting Your Essential Oils to Use…

Once you’ve received your new oils + supplies, it’s time to put them to work!

There are so many fun ways to use essential oils, but here are five to get you started.  

1. Make some “All Purpose Cleaner”:

In a 16 oz. glass spray bottle, combine:

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 30 drops of lemon oil, lime oil, YL Thieves, or Onguard blend

2. Create a “Stress Away” Roller 

  • Remove the roller ball from the top of the bottle
  • Add 30 drops of lavender oil and/or another calming oil – like 1 drop of Geranium or Chamomile (these are strong!)
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with your carrier oil
  • Close & shake well
  • Apply to wrists and/or back of the neck
  • Store in your desk drawer or purse 

3. Experiment with your new diffuser 

  • Try a few drops of Wild Orange oil and Sandalwood oil or Balance blend when you feel stressed or anxious 
  • Try In Tune blend when you’re trying to focus or study. Diffusing Lemon, Orange, and Basil together can be effective, too.
  • Mix it up, and see how your body responds!

4. Make Some Pillow Spray 

  • Add 20 drops of Lavender oil w/ distilled water in a mini spray bottle (100 ml)
  • Lightly spray your pillow before bed for relaxation & easier sleep

5. Peppermint Rub for Congestion

  • Mix 1 part Peppermint oil with 3 to 6 parts carrier oil
  • Test on a small patch of skin for any possible allergic reaction 
  • If no reaction occurs, apply the diluted rub to your chest

How to Use Essential Oils Safely.

One common misconception I want to clear up is this:  Natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe! 

Whenever you’re trying something new, it’s important to do so safely. Here are some tips for using essential oils safely:

1. Never ingest essential oils. Especially hot oils like Oregano and Thyme!  Although some essential oils can be safely ingested in small quantities, this should ONLY be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable practitioner.  Generally, we do not recommend putting oils in a veggie cap and swallowing. 

2. If applying directly to the skin, always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil. The carrier oil helps draw the essential oil into the skin, and prevents it from evaporating quickly.  Because allergic reactions can occur, always test on a small patch of skin first.

3. Keep essential oils safely locked away from pets and children.  And don’t keep them in the same cabinet as your homeopathy!

4. Store in dark glass bottles & away from heat & light

5. Some essential oils can be toxic to pets, children & sensitive individuals. Before diffusing any essential oil, make sure it’s safe to use around children and pets.  Join the Paws 4 Essential Oils Facebook group, where they talk about pet safety all the time!

6. Always read labels. Only purchase pure essential oils. The label should include the Latin name of the plant & the country the plant was harvested in.

Still Curious About Essential Oils?

I hope you’ve found this helpful! 

If you have questions about using essential oils, schedule a consultation with me. We carry many essential oils in the office, and we also have some opened bottles – so you can see what they smell like before buying!

I can help you choose the best oils and blends, and we can discuss the safe use of each so that you feel confident introducing them into your home & personal-care routine. 

Resources:

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24653035/

2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/hbm.21035

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4505755/

4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33534425/

5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15708642/

6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18041606/

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9354706/

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700683/

9. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141354.htm

10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30795725/

11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35744913/

12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27117114/

13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18041606/

14. https://he01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/jhealthres/article/view/85772

15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241490/

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