Essential Oil Basics

Love the idea of botanical remedies but unsure where to start? Looking to replace some of the products you use with more natural solutions? Prefer nontoxic options for your family? Essential oils are the perfect fit!

What are essential oils? 

Essential oils are highly concentrated, aromatic compounds from plants. They may be produced from the seeds, bark, leaves, flowers, roots or peels of some fruits. Essential oils are more than just scents - they can provide many physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

What can you use essential oils for?

Anything really!  Some of the most common uses for oils include skin conditions such as acne and eczema, pain complaints, cold/flu symptoms, occasional anxiety or depressed mood, promoting relaxation and relieving stress.

How are essential oils used?

Oils can be used topically, diffused into the air, and some oils can be used internally. Oils can also be used for making personal care and cleaning products.

In general when used topically oils should be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil or jojoba. Use the same quality of oils that you can cook with and consume. If diffused it is best to use an ultrasonic diffuser that does not use any heat as this can destroy many of the therapeutic properties of the oil.  

Are there any safety precautions for oils? 

In general, oils should be diluted with a carrier oil as above. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example lavender and tea tree may be applied to small areas undiluted, referred to as “neat”. For more essential oil safety, and answers to many common questions, including use during pregnancy and for children, see the Young Living Essential Oil Safety Guide.

Certain oils should be avoid for those with seizure disorders: Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Sage (Salvia officinalis), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Thuja (Thuya occidentalis), Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium).

The following should be avoided or used with expert consultation during pregnancy or breastfeeding: aniseed, basil, birch, calamus, camphor, cassia, cinnamon bark, hyssop, Idaho tansy, jasmine, lavandin, mugwort, parsley, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, tansy, tarragon, thuja, thyme, wintergreen, wormwood. Use the following oils with caution: angelica, cedarwood, chamomile (German/blue), cistus, citronella, clary sage, clove bud, cypress, davana, fennel, bay laurel, marjoram, mountain savory, myrrh, nutmeg, peppermint, rose, spearmint, vetiver, yarrow. Peppermint on the abdomen should be avoided during pregnancy.

Great!  Where can I get oils?

Please be careful, do your research, and find a company that you can trust. Oils are not created equally. Unfortunately “100% pure” on a label does not necessarily mean the oil is really pure. Consider how the oils are distilled - steam distillation or cold-pressed are preferred. Many brands obtain oils by solvent extraction, using chemicals to obtain the compounds. These types of oils should never be ingested or used topically. My personal favorite and what I choose to use for my family is Young Living Essential Oils.

How to Purchase Oils

We chose Young Living oils for the following reasons:

  1. Young Living has been around for over 20 years and has the Seed To Seal Guarantee. They are the only company that owns their own farms and distills many of their own oils. Their partner farms are exclusive and grown under the same conditions. The farms are open to the public and you can see how they operate, and even participate in harvest or distillation! I love the transparency. Every other company buys their product from third party growers. Young Living only uses first distillation oils so they are much more potent and provide more therapeutic benefits. More info at Seed to Seal.
  2. Oils from the health food store are aroma-grade oils and may smell good, but they do not offer the same therapeutic benefits because most of them contain less than 5% pure essential oil. 
  3. Many essential oils have expiration dates, YL oils do not. Properly stored 100% pure essential oils (excluding citrus) won't ever go bad and will last indefinitely. If an essential oil has an expiration date, it isn't pure or has been cut with a carrier oil which will eventually go rancid.
  4. Only 2% of essential oils sold in North America are suitable for medicinal/therapeutic purposes, and Young Living makes 98% of them! Young Living meets all industry AFNOR and ISO standards and are subjected to isotopic ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) analysis, which determines whether a particular oil is naturally sourced or synthetic.
  5. I saved the BEST FOR LAST: The Wellness Academy. This is a fabulous private Facebook group for people who use, or are curious about using YL oils. Great information - tips and tricks, recipes/etc. Come join us!