Essential Oils can be used most effectively in 2 ways –
- Inhalation Use
- Topical Use
Upon inhaling Essential Oils, the oil molecules reach the limbic system of the brain via the olfactory system and thus, have an influence on our emotions and psychological health. There are different methods of Inhalation –
- Direct inhalation:
The easiest method of inhalation is to open a bottle of pure Essential Oil and inhale deeply a few times. DON’T let the undiluted oil touch your skin.
- Steam inhalation:
Get a bowl of hot water and a towel. Place the bowl on a table and add a few drops of the Essential Oil. Place the towel over your head and the bowl. Close your eyes and deeply inhale the steam for several minutes. Repeat this for 4-5 times throughout the day.
Within Diffusers, there are again a few methods that can be used to get the best results from Essential Oils –
- Direct inhalation:
- Candle Diffuser:
As the candle melts, the heat involved disperses the Essential Oil into the atmosphere. These are commonly available and quite inexpensive.
- Electric Diffuser:
Electric fan diffusers disperse Essential Oils into the atmosphere without heat. Drops of the Essential Oil are added directly or diluted with water. It then blows air, causing the droplets to disperse into the atmosphere and spreading a rich aroma.
- Ultrasonic Diffuser:
These diffusers use electronic frequencies to create vibrations in the Essential Oil diluted with water. This creates a fine mist of water and Essential Oils that is released into the air. Some ultrasonic diffusers turn off automatically to control the amount of Essential Oil that gets dispersed into the air.
- Nebulizer Diffuser:
These diffusers break down the Essential oils into tiny molecules before dispersing them into the room. The pump determines the speed of the molecule breakdown and the coverage area of the aroma. Cleaning these devices regularly is necessary as the Essential Oils can accumulate and clog the pump and bottle; thereby reducing the effectiveness of the nebulizer. However, cleaning nebulizer devices can be a little complicated and time consuming.
- Passive Diffuser:
These diffusers refer to anything that lets the Essential Oil naturally evaporate into the air. You can place a few drops of the Essential Oil onto your pillow, a tissue or a ceramic vessel.
- Reed Diffuser:
It is a type of passive diffuser where wooden sticks or reeds are placed into a bottle filled with the Essential Oil. The oil travels up the reed from the bottom and the aroma is released into the air when it reaches the top.
2. Topical Use
Essential Oils can also be applied onto our skin. They are absorbed via the epidermis (top layer of skin), and enter the blood circulation through the small blood vessels present in the deeper layers. However, there are some rules while using the Essential Oils topically –
- Essential Oils should not be used undiluted on the skin. They should always be mixed with a suitable carrier oil. Typically, they are always diluted with a carrier oil in safe dilutions of 1-3 % as per the need and the age of the patient.
- Do not apply on inflamed and/or damaged skin.
- Always do the patch test before using the Essential Oil.
- Not to be applied on the mucus membranes like oral cavity, inside the nose, eyes, ears or private parts.
- Perform the patch test in case of suspected sensitivity.
- Wash your forearm with unscented soap and pat it dry.
- Rub a few drops of diluted Essential Oil into a small patch of your forearm.
- Cover it with a small gauze if possible and wait for maximum 24 hours.
- During these 24 hrs or at the end, lookout for any redness, blistering or swelling. If you have any of these adverse reactions to the Essential Oil, and should discontinue the use and immediately wash the area with soap and warm water.
The topical use can be implemented through the following methods.
Essential Oils can be used for massage by adding the carrier oil in it and applying it to the desired areas.
- Warm compresses:
It can be applied with the warm compresses.
- Simple Rub:
It can be rubbed onto the wrist or nape of neck , temples (avoiding contact with the eyes), feet and soles.
Add 3- 4 drops of the Essential Oil to bodywash or shampoo. You can also add the carrier oil to bath tub, bodywash or shower wall. Using a solubilizer or disperser such as Polysorbate 20 or Solubol is strongly recommended. Caution: While using the premixed essential oil with carrier oil, use a few drops of this mixed oil to protect the bathroom plumbing system.
- Bath Salt:
Few drops of the Essential Oil mixed with a carrier oil can be added to bath salts like rock salt, Himalayan pink salt, etc. It can then be mixed with a bucket of water. Feet can be dipped in this water for 15 minutes to half an hour.
- Cosmetic Use:
Essential Oils can be added to shampoos, conditioners, lotions, creams, bathtub water, bath salts, bodywash, etc.
Some Safety Tips for the use of Essential Oils –
- Buying and storing tips:
- Buy authentic and 100% pure Essential Oils and not the cheap ones.
- Check if the oils are sold in amber, blue or green coloured bottles, which offer protection against the UV rays.
- Always store them in cool and dry place.
- Essential Oils get oxidized and become ineffective after some time. Hence, do not use very old or improperly stored oils.
- Remember that Essential oils are inflammable.
- Usage Tips:
- Essential Oils are a complementary therapy and not a substitute for medical treatment.
- Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Keep the Essential Oils out of reach of children.
- Avoid direct application onto eyes or mucus membranes such as ears, nasal mucosa, genitalia, etc.
- Never swallow Essential Oils.
- Always dilute them with the carrier oils for topical application.
- When used in Diffusers, the exposure should be limited to 20 to 30 min.
- Wash your hands with soap after handling the Essential Oils.
- Never apply Essential Oils directly onto an animal. Always ask a veterinarian before using Essential Oils around a pet.
- Some Essential Oils like Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Mandarin can be phototoxic and can cause skin irritation, inflammation, blistering, redness and/or burning when exposed to UV rays. Hence, avoid sun exposure for about 8-12 hours after topically applying these Essential Oils.
- Essential Oils are extremely potent, so only a few drops are needed at a time. Do not overdo it.