Getting Started with Essential Oils

So, you want to start using essential oils more in your daily life. That is good news and you are not alone. Essential oils are making a comeback into 21st century daily living much in the same way as they were centuries ago. But, first you should know a little about essential oils.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are not like your average vegetable oil. In fact, they are not oils at all. No, they are complex, carbon-based molecules (mostly) that have a range of other substances such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur added to them. These other elements and their molecular arrangement serve to differentiate one essential oil from another by classification, smell, color, viscosity, density, and characteristic health benefit. Keep in mind that each of these compounds is Mother Nature’s recipe and serve to help the plant grow and protect itself from insects, parasites or any other natural enemy.

Does it matter where my essential oil comes from?

While some might like to think they can duplicate an essential oil, the differences in each oil (essence) can be even subtly if not greatly influenced by a myriad of factors such as soil pH, environmental temperature, altitude, time of year sown and harvested, neighboring vegetation, and more. Even the same genus and specie can smell different and have different health impact given a difference in any of these factors. In short, where an essential oil comes from is highly important as is how it is extracted.

Essential oils are NOT regulated by the FDA even though the label “Organic” is defined by them (in the United States). Simply because an oil says it is FDA Organic does not certify its stated health benefit. Look for the Ecocert label when purchasing your oils. Ecocert in a third-party certification organization. Ecocert sets the standard for organic and ensures each grower complies.

For what are essential oils used?

As mentioned above, each plant has its own essence that serves as protection against natural enemies. These same chemical compositions from the plant can have certain health benefits for humans as well. Long before modern medicine essential oils were used to help grow crops, beautify the skin, alleviate or lessen pain, encourage wound healing, reduce intestinal discomfort, clean, disinfect, and enhance romance. Today essential oils are used for similar reasons. There is a mountain of anecdotal evidence siting certain health benefits for many essential oils but none that the FDA has specifically approved. For that reason, one must proceed with caution when exploring the uses for essential oils in daily living.

How should essential oils be used?

Since the essence of a plant is extracted (usually by water and/or steam distillation) the essence is in concentrated form and should be used with respect and caution. Always use a reputable brand of essential oil. And never take internally unless directed by a certified Aromatherapy doctor.

Typically, essential oils are diffused, inhaled, misted, rubbed on topically, or used as a soak. Some essential oils, like Lavender are gentle enough to use neat (undiluted). When starting out, use one oil at a time and watch for signs of allergy or sensitization. Use the product tabs for each New Life essential oil to learn more about that oil and its uses.

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