Essential Oils Guide: The Basics of Essential Oils

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Are you hesitant to dive into the world of essential oils?  Or did you get some and then have no idea what to do with them? Don't worry; you have come to the right place. This basic essential oils guide will help you understand essential oils so that you will feel more comfortable using them.

Understanding essential oils can be overwhelming. When I first began researching essential oils, I experienced doubt and overwhelm, too. But I eased my tensions with help from the Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle.

I bought this bundle, which has multiple resources (34 to be exact), to help me learn about essential oils and herbs. I trust the providers of the bundle, Ultimate Bundles, and knew that they would only allow high-quality resources into the bundle.

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There is a lot of fear out there surrounding essential oils, which makes it hard to know who to trust. But the bundle helped me find other amazing and trustworthy resources. I discovered women like Jodi Cohen from Vibrant Blue Oils and Lea Jacobson from Using EOS Safely. If you are looking for more resources, I highly recommend these along with the bundle and this essential oils guide.

Know that I am no expert, but I have gone to experts and researched this information for you. A lot of it has come from information in the Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle and the other essential oils bloggers mentioned above.

This essential oils guide is long but hopefully will help you better understand essential oils. I will cover information including vocabulary used in the field, extraction methods of the oil, the benefits of essential oils, how to buy and start using essential oils, and more.

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LANGUAGE USED IN THIS ESSENTIAL OILS GUIDE

Use the glossary below to help you develop an essential oils vocabulary and better understand this essential oils guide. Some terms are more common than others, so feel free to revisit this list as needed. I have placed them in alphabetical order for ease of use. Don't be scared by the first term.     

Batch Specific GC/MS - GC/MS Stands for Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry. Gas chromatography is a way of separating the volatile compounds (which are the good parts of the plants that you want to get from the essential oils) in the essential oils. The mass spectrometry identifies the components and their percentage. These breakdowns allow people to know if something is going to irritate the skin, or if the shelf life is longer in a particular batch of oils.             

Blend - This is a combination of single oils (defined below). Blends are used to increase the potency and effectiveness of attributes of certain oils. You can make blends at home or buy them.          

Carrier Oil - Carrier oil is mixed with essential oils to dilute it. Not any oil will do. Some of the best oils to mix with your essential oils are coconut oil (or fractionated coconut oil so that it remains liquid). Olive oil, jojoba oil, argan oil and sweet almond oil also make good carrier oils.

Dilute - This lessens the potency of the oil, which makes it healthier when consuming (inhaling or topical use). Essential oils must be diluted with a carrier oil to make them safe for topical use. You will always dilute essential oils when using them.              

Diffuser - A essential oil diffuser breaks down the oil to mist in the air, using water to transport it or to atomize it. This is a form of receiving essential oils through inhalation. You can easily purchase diffusers on Amazon.

Hydrosols - When essential oils are made,  water-based ingredients are also produced. These are called hydrosols. They have similar benefits of essentials oils and sometimes are the better choice; they can be a more effective way to receive the therapeutic benefits of the oil depending on the ailment you are treating.

Natural - This word appears on most essential oil labels, if not all. It doesn't mean that a brand has a high-quality essential oil. ALL essential oils should be natural. They all come from the earth. Do not let this generate more trust between you and a brand.

Neat - This means an essential oil has not been diluted. Always understand an essential before using it neat, as it could cause irritation or a more severe reaction.

Olfactory System - This term is often used when describing the use of inhalation to receive essential oils. This is your sense of smell and the system used for smelling.

Reflexology - This form of alternative medicine uses certain points on your feet to help other parts of the body. Some aromatherapists may suggest putting essential oils on certain parts of the foot to increase the overall effects of the reflexology.

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Sensitization - This is when an individual becomes allergic or sensitized to a specific essential oil. Once you develop sensitization it will remain. The easiest way to avoid sensitization is to continually change the essential oils you use with the seasons. If you use only one essential oil all the time you will increase the likelihood of your body becoming sensitized.

Single - Single refers to an individual essential oil. Singles include lavender oil, peppermint oil, or lemon oil. The use of 2 or more singles creates a blend.

Therapeutic - Similar to “natural,” this is another term used with essential oils. There is no regulated FDA standard for essential oils. So therapeutic has little weight or meaning for the quality of the essential oils when purchasing them.

Topical Reaction - If you do not dilute your oils appropriately, you can have an external or topical reaction from using essential oils. Often topical reactions are rashes or hives, but it is possible to get burns.

Toxin Binders - These help transport the toxins that essential oils get rid of in the body. If you don't take the correct binder, then the gut will often reabsorb the toxins. When you are using essential oils to help clean out an organ or system, research whether a binder will be useful. To find out more on toxin binders read this article.

 

Methods Of Extraction for Essential Oils 

The plant or herb used will dictate the extraction process. There are 3 main forms of extractions: distillation, cold pressed, and absolute. Cold pressed is usually used with citrus oils since the oil is in the skin of the fruit.

Distillation resembles the brewing of tea. In order to get the essential oils from the plant, steam is necessary to bring the oil out and attached on to the steam molecules.

The absolute method is when a chemical is used to extract the oil from the plant. By using this method,  the chemical will always remain with the oil. This is often done with jasmine.

Knowing the different plants will have different extraction types is important. Understanding the extraction process for each plant will help you understand the oil better and any information on the bottle.

How to Use Essential Oils for Therapeutic Benefits 

Inhalation 

This is the process of smelling the essential oils. This can be done just by opening the bottle and smelling the essential oil for a few breathes or by diffusing the oil into the air. This is the most effective method at receiving the benefits of certain oils. 

When you inhale the oil, it hits the lungs and is quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Most often when using a diffuser you will use it for short periods of times during the day. An example is 20 minutes two times a day. Do NOT diffuse all day. 

Essential oil are not to be used constantly. Talk to an aromatherapist or research diffusing habits for each issue or symptom you are treating. 

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Topical 

Topical means putting the essential oils with a carrier oil on to the skin. This is also an effective way to reach different parts of the body. People will use reflexology points to get the desired effect in the area of the body they want to reach.

Essential oils can also be used on the skin for skin issues, like a rash or bee sting, along with deeper pains and aches in the muscles. 

Ingestion

Never ingest essential oils for therapeutic benefits, unless instructed by an aromatherapist. However, people do use essential oils for culinary purposes. This is fine when used properly, and there are recipes for that in the Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle.

Please do not put essential oils in your water for a lemony fresh taste. The potency of essential oils can cause damage to the liver. These are concentrated chemicals and should always be diluted with an appropriate carrier oil when using for inhalation and topical use.

The benefits of essential oils 

Physical 

Essential oils have amazing healing properties. Many of us know essential oils for helping us or someone we know when they were sick.

They can help support your respiratory system, damaged nerves, and upset stomach. Cinnamon can help poor circulation, poor indigestion, and athlete's foot. Roman Chamomile helps with inflammation and fungal infections. These are just two examples of what oils can help support, and this is not an exhaustive list of what cinnamon or Roman Chamomile can do.

From skin ailments to muscle and organ issues, essential oils may be able to help support your body’s organ systems’ improvement or help you deal with the symptoms of an ailment.

Mental

Essential oils can also help with things like foggy brain and focus. I am always willing to test and investigate an essential oil’s ability to improve sleep. There are multiple blends you can make to help you sleep or stay energized and focused. Lavendar, which I use before bed sometimes, is a great way to relax.

Mood 

If you have a lot of anxiety and stress, there are essential oils to help you relax and calm yourself. There are essential oils and blends to help with mood disorders, depression, even ADD/ ADHD for kids.

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Something really special about essential oils is their ability to help support the release of trauma, shame, shock, and helplessness. There are blends to help you work through your grief or worry.

Essential oils have great emotional impacts. The list above only touches on the benefits essential oils can have on your emotional state. Know that if you are seeking help with emotions there may be an essential oil to support you

Cleaning 

Many essential oils are anti-microbial. They are powerful cleaning tools for the home and are all natural. Many people use lemon essential oil, which kills airborne germs, surface germs, and is a bug repellant.
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Common Sense When Starting With Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated chemicals. Be smart when using them. Remember that they are powerful and effective in tiny doses. Keep your common sense when using essential oils. If you have questions or need help, research and ask questions.

I like Vibrant Blue Oils because they are always willing to respond to emails, have classes, and blog to further your education on essential oils. When I email them, they respond the same day. They also have amazing blends.
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Being Safe

It is not hard to be safe with essential oils. Make sure to educate yourself with good information and you will be fine.

The Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle has guides likes the Essential Oil Profiles, which dissects each essential oil. It includes extraction method, what part of the plant the oil comes from, shelf-life, safety recommendations and also lists the benefits and therapeutic properties of each oil.

There is also The Essential Oils Quick Reference Guide, which has master dilution charts along with a guide for blending, in the bundle. This makes it easy to mix blends for your diffuser or your own roller ball. These are just 2 of the 34 resources in the Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle.

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Dilution 

It is always better to over dilute something rather than under dilute it. Just a drop or two of oil can have the impact you are looking for. Even in a bathtub, a few drops will suffice. If you are unsure about how much to dilute your blends or singles, guides in the Herbs and Essential Oil Super Bundle will help you.

Also, you usually buy essential oils in small quantities like 5ml bottles. This is because it is powerful. You don't need a gallon to get the job done. A small bottle can last you a while when using it appropriately.

Over Use

I mentioned overuse and sensitization earlier in the vocabulary section. Use essential oils to treat an ailment, not as preventative medicine. Overuse of the oils can lead to sensitization. They aren't something you need to use every day unless you are on a regiment for a specific ailment.            

Also, rotating which oils you use through the seasons will help your body not become sensitized to the oils.

Buying Essential Oils  

Buying essential oils and figuring out a brand to purchase from can overwhelm new buyers. In the past, I attempted buying essential oils three times but gave up because of the overwhelm. So I understand it can be challenging when you feel that you don't know anything. Below are some tips to help you with that.

How to Buy Quality 

There are two easy ways to check on the quality of essential oils.  Check to see if they are organic and whether they have the batch specific GC/MS test available to view. These are not the only two ways, but they will get you started.

Organic Essential Oils 

You want organic essential oils because you are using a part of the plants themselves. If that plant has had chemicals, pesticides, and other things on it, then you will also be getting those chemicals in your essential oils. So you want your essential oils to come from clean, untreated plants.

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Bath Specific GC/MS 

If you buy essential oils from a company that has these test results available, it means they have a certain level of transparency. This helps consumers make choices. Learn how to read these tests to become a better judge of the quality of the essential oils you buy.

How Much Does Price Matter 

Price is such a sticky issue. We don't want to spend a ton of money, but we don’t want poor quality essential oils either. Affordable essential oils don’t necessarily mean poor quality, though.                         

My mother gave me my first essential oils. She bought them at Walgreens. They smelled amazing and did their job.                         

All essential oils are not created equally, though. So a price range for essential oils exists because of how they are made and collected. Some oils are abundant and don't require much of the fruit, bark, or leaf to get a batch of oils. Others require large quantities of flowers, and still only produce small amounts of the oil.

A more expensive essential oil is Helichrysum. On the other end of the spectrum is lemon, orange, and tea tree oil since these are all easily harvested and extracted oils. Remember just because an oil cost more doesn't mean its healing properties are stronger, more extensive or work faster. All oils have many positive effects and all are concentrated and potent.

Know that popular, cheaper oils like lemon, and lavender may vary in price because of organic versus non-organic herbs and plants. Two brands that I use and trust are Plant Therapy and Vibrant Blue Oils.

Use Your Common Sense 

Follow your nose when trying oils. If it smells good to you, use it. If it smells off, chemically, or just repulsive then don't use it. Our bodies are great detectors of what we need and what we don't need.

Blends Versus Singles 

Blends can be homemade or bought. In the Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle you will get multiple eBooks, journals and guides with recipes.

It includes the 15 Roller Bottle Recipes and Labels for Stress, Rest, and Mood eBook. I am currently using a stress relief blend. The eBooks also include recipes ranging from cleaning, to skincare, to mood relief. Check out the list of products included in the bundle, you will see a lot of possibilities.                    

When buying blends or singles, be smart. Find out if the blend or single oil will help you with your specific ailments. Understand what the specific oils in the blend are capable of remedying.

A Few More Tips  

Less is more when buying your essential oils. Start with buying one to three oils. Learn about them, use them, and see how they work. You do not need to buy the massive sets with 10+ essential oils.

Keep learning about them. Sign up for a newsletter, like with Vibrant Blue Oils, to find and receive some weekly knowledge about them. This takes the pressure off of researching.

Essential Oils Are Not the Magic Bullet 

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Essential oils are not a magic bullet. They are not the missing thing from your diet or daily life. They are a natural remedy. Make sure that you consult a doctor first to properly treat yourself with essential oils.

More questions about essential oils 

Are essential oils safe around my pets?

This is a general rule of thumb, but always take the time to research if you are not sure. Cats cannot process essential oils and so they should not be around them. Dogs can process the oils and it is okay for them to be around them.    Do remember that animals can have a stronger sense of smell. If you are diffusing in a small space, make sure that your pet can leave the area and go to where there is fresh air.

For all other pets, consult an aromatherapist.

Should I use essential oils while I am pregnant? 

If you are just starting out on essential oils, I would wait until you are no longer pregnant to start using. If you would like to use essential oils for your morning sickness or other pregnancy symptoms, consult an aromatherapist.

Whew! That was a lot of information, but I hope you feel a little more knowledgeable about essential oils through this essential oils guide. If there are other questions or areas you want to know more about, please share them in the comments below.

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