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Get The Low-Down on Essential Oils!

With so much focus around Essential Oils these days, it can be challenging to keep up with it all. "Which one is the best one?" "How do I know which brand is reliable?" "How do I actually use them?" Sound familiar? Yep - you're not alone!

I'm going to give you the run down on what to look for, what to avoid and how they can be used!

Firstly - what is an essential oil? Essential oils are the natural oils found in various aromatic plants which have many health benefits - some dating back thousands of years.

Technically they consist of chemical constituents that can evaporate, be distilled, dissolve or combine with other oils or lipids. Don't worry, that's about as technical as it gets...the important thing to know is that they are created by plants for:

* Damaged Tissue Healing

* Pollinator Attraction

* Immune Defense

Each essential oil has it's own unique aroma and because of this they can be used to create perfume, added to cosmetics and soaps, included in food and drink for flavouring and added to incense and household cleaning products.

Please remember that not all essential oils are created equally and you could find yourself in the trap of buying something synthetic. When buying essential oils make sure you look for the Latin botanical name, distillation (or expiration) date and words including Organic, Wildcrafted and Un-sprayed.

Steer away from things like "Perfume Oil", "Fragrance Oil" and "Certified Therapeutic Grade" - this last point is because there is no governmental regulating body that certifies or even grades essential oils!

This awesome chart (courtesy of Wikipedia) shows us some of the common essential oils and which part of the plant they are derived from.

You will normally find that you are drawn to the aromas derived from one or two of the plant areas.

For me it's Bark & Peel!

So..."How can they be used?...

One of the simplest ways to use essential oils is by placing them in an aromatherapy diffuser. Diffusers allow for the continuous dispersion of aromas into the air and they are readily available on line and in retail outlets. The great thing about this is that you can mix and match your own blend to create the perfect aroma for you. My personal favourites are:

* Peppermint, Wild Orange & Frankincense for an uplifting blend

* Tea Tree, Lemon & Oregano to kill germs and fight colds & flu

* Lemon, Chamomile, Ylang Ylang & Clary Sage for relaxation

* Bergamot & Vetiver for stress relief

* Cinnamon, Allspice, Juniper and Clove to make the house smell like Christmas!!!

Essential oils can also be used topically - some either directly onto the skin, hair, nails and other parts of the body - and some with a carrier oil (coconut, almond, jojoba or olive). Before using any essential oil topically, make sure you do your research as to whether it needs to be diluted (with a carrier) or can be used neat (on it's own). It's also wise to conduct a simple sensitivity test when trying a new oil. Do this by applying a small amount of the essential oil to an inconspicuous area and leave untouched for a few hours. During this time, continue to check the area to ensure no sensitivity has occurred.

Topical applications include:

* Add a few drops to a warm bath.

* Add to a moisturiser or lotion to soothe the skin.

* Make a hot or cold compress by adding the oil to a damp cloth and then apply to the desired area.

* Massage face and body for relaxation, mood enhancement, muscle relief and improvement in breathing.

* Some essential oils can be added to food and drink and others need to be avoided. Please ensure you verify if the essential oil has a label or box outlining nutritional or supplement information. This will indicate whether it can be taken internally. If there is no indication, this essential oil should be avoided unless it has been approved by a certified healthcare professional.

If the oil can be taken internally - add a few drops to water, coconut water or your favourite milk before drinking.

I also love to add them to my raw bliss balls! Personal faves are: Cacao with Wild Orange & Cinnamon Cacao & Coconut with Peppermint

Macadamia & Coconut with Lemon (or Lime)

"Are essential oils safe to use during pregnancy?"

Here's the low down... some essential oils are considered safe to use (as long as the pregnancy is going well and you are past the first Trimester), However it is always best to check with a healthcare professional and conduct your own research as to the method of application / use.

Some essential oils which are generally considered safe include:

* Orange - said to make you feel joyous and calm.

* Ylang Ylang - a great all-rounder to use. Can reduce blood pressure and ease stress and tension.

* Sandalwood - this is a natural sedative and anti-depressant which can assist in delivering a good nights' sleep.

* Neroli - can assist with anxiety by helping you feel relaxed and tranquil. An added bonus is that it can assist in skin cell regeneration, so you'll be looking great too!

On the other hand, there are some essential oils which should be avoided and I'll explain why:

* Rosemary - this is believed to increase blood pressure and may cause contractions

* Sage and Rose - these may cause bleeding in the uterus.

* Jasmine, Cinnamon and Clary Sage - these may trigger contractions.

* Nutmeg - has been known to have hallucinogenic effects and could react negatively with pain-relieving drugs during labour.

* Basil, which is thought to contribute to abnormal cell development.

* Juniper berry - which may affect your kidneys.

Other essential oils may also have an adverse affect during pregnancy and as always, you should do your research thoroughly prior to use. My motto - if in doubt, don't use it.

The world of Essential Oils really is endless. I encourage you to do your research and see what works for you and your family. What works for one person may not work for you so have a dabble and enjoy your journey.

As always, anyone with a disease, injury, illness, medical condition or health issue should consult a certified healthcare professional.

Love & Light

xx Sandra Stoitis xx