How I Replaced Common Items from My Medicine Cabinet With Essential Oils
The world today has medicines for nearly everything that could trouble us. The problem with those medicines is that they often have more negative side effects than benefits. The medical community would like to discount alternative methods of healing, but it is hard to dispute natural means which have been used in one form or fashion for thousands of years. Plants have long been known to have properties which are beneficial to our health. The oils that come from them vary in their capabilities but can have dramatic impacts on a person’s well-being. Essential oils contain chemical components which combat various ailments through natural means instead of harsh processed chemicals.
Unlike their medicinal counterparts, essential oils are “a fragrant, vital fluid distilled from flowers, shrubs, leaves, trees, roots, and seeds” (Totilo, 2015). Unless someone is sensitive to a specific oil, they should not experience any of the same negative side effects on their body that modern medicines are known to cause.
A key element of essential oils is the process of extracting them from their host plants. Extraction processes can vary depending on the type of oil being produced.
“Some botanicals such as Jasmine and Tuberose…have to be extracted through a method such as solvent extraction or lipid absorption” (Totilo, 2013). Other essential oils do not require as stringent a process. Steaming and distilling is one of the most commonly used methods for extracting oils. Once the oils are extracted, they can be used together to create a well-balanced blend.
There are numerous methods that can be used to introduce essential oils into the human body. Common applications include inhalers, creams, diffusers, and room sprays. When producing a particular blend, it is important to include all the necessary components. Each should include a top note, middle note, and base note to make a well-rounded blend. The oils will be combined together with a method of application otherwise known as a carrier. The best method for delivery of essential oils will vary depending on the person’s health and the type of conditions that are being treated.
Inhalers are a great option for delivering oils in order to achieve fast relief. They are able to be used on the go in a discreet method with minimum effect on others in the immediate area.
“Inhalation is one of the easiest methods of use and is considered the most direct pathway for an aromatic blend or essence” (Totilo, 2013). The shelf life for an inhaler is approximately one month, and towards the end, it will start to lose its potency and effectiveness.
Creams are a type of carrier that is commonly used to distribute an aromatherapy blend to someone. Creams typically use unscented lotions to deliver the blend’s therapeutic properties. They are applied topically on the person’s skin, varying in location depending on the affected area. Creams are especially useful for delivering essential oils to people with sensitive skin conditions because it helps to dilute the oils and reduce the likelihood of skin irritation.
Diffusers are an excellent method which can be used to deliver essential oils but are not able to be used as discreetly as inhalers or creams. It is common for diffusers to use distilled water to disperse the blend’s aroma into the air.
“Essential oils increase the available oxygen in the room and produce negative ions which kill microbes” (Totilo, 2015). Diffusers are especially beneficial during the cold and flu season to help keep the whole family healthy. They can be used on a daily basis to help cleanse the air.
Sprays can be used to cleanse fabrics or brighten up a room with an aromatic fragrance. This direct introduction method can help sanitize furniture and remove unwanted smells. I like to use hydrosols as a base to disperse the essential oils into the room. Many industrial sprays can be used to achieve similar results, but they do not use all natural ingredients. Instead, they use harsh chemicals which are not as environmentally friendly. Essential oil sprays give you confidence that you are cleansing your home without adverse side effects.
The time of year can profoundly influence the different types of essential oils that are needed around the house. My favorite essential oil which I use most frequently throughout the year is Lavender: Bulgaria (Lavandula angustifolia). Some of the common uses for essential oils that we use on a daily basis include allergy relief, stress and anxiety, colds and flu, PMS cramping issues, and other stomach related problems.
Allergies are a common issue affecting my family. They are worse for some family members but affect us all. Symptoms can vary from person to person, each with their unique complaints. Common issues caused by allergies include sinus congestion, sore throat, runny nose, nasal drip, headaches, and sneezing. In order to remedy the various ailments caused by allergies, I use a couple different application methods to present essential oils into the body. The two methods I used for allergy relief were inhalers and diffusers.
For acute symptoms and fast relief, I put together specific blends into an inhaler. One example blend that can be used for nighttime relief includes a top note of Orange: Sweet (Citrus sinensis), middle note of Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), and base note of Frankincense: Carterii (Boswellia carterii). It is a soothing blend which is best used at night to help with sleep. When the different chemical components are combined together, they create a blend which has therapeutic properties including a sedative, a decongestant, and an expectorant. Sedatives help the person relax and go to sleep, decongestants help reduce swelling, and expectorants help eliminate phlegm and mucus from the person’s respiratory system.
An example daytime blend would a top note of Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus globulus), middle note of Myrtle (Myrtus communis), and base note of Myrrh (Commiphora Myrrha). This blend is stimulating and helps with inflammation, is antibacterial, and antiinfectious. This blend is better suited for daytime use because of the stimulating therapeutic properties which will stop viruses and bacteria without drowsiness.
To purify and cleanse the air, I use diffuser blends which distribute essential oils over a wider area. An example diffuser blend which I have used for allergies includes a top note of Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a middle note of Lavender: Bulgaria (Lavandula angustifolia), and a base note of Frankincense: Carterii (Boswellia carterii). The reason this blend is particularly effective through a diffuser is because it is stimulating to the immune system, is antifungal, and antibacterial. Not only does it help the individuals themselves that are within range, it also helps detoxify the air and clear it of allergens.
Stress and Anxiety
There are many causes of stress and anxiety. Different types should be treated in different ways. My husband has been is school for nearly four years and throughout that timeframe he has had numerous quarters which have been very stressful. Dealing with his normal job, taking care of four kids, taking care of projects around the house, and keeping up with the weekly discussions, papers, lab work, and various other projects for school has been a source of great stress for him. To help ease his stress, I created a blend which is soothing to help him relax. Because of his stress, he was diagnosed with higher blood pressure.
Other than having been diagnosed with elevated blood pressure, he is otherwise in great overall health. “People who experience stress on a daily basis may find the use of essential oil blends helpful for calming their nerves…[because] essential oils’ molecules are easily inhaled, which allows them to be fast-acting and quickly absorbed into the body” (Totilo, 2016).
The blend I created contained a top note of Bergamont (Citrus bergamia), middle note of Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), and base note of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata). This blend is especially good for those with higher blood pressure because the Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) helps the body relax into a deeper state.
An example of anxiety that I was able to help treat came about when one of my friends started going through a lot of life changes. She recently got married, moved to another state for her husband’s job, was going through family issues, and had to find a new job. Although she was going through so many life changes, she was in overall great health with no history of high blood pressure or kidney problems. Because of all of the triggers in her life, she was experiencing increased anxiety levels which were causing excessive worrying and irritability. During our various conversations, she informed me that she wanted to become pregnant and grow her family. I told her that when we was ready to become pregnant, she needed to stop using the blend because it is not recommended to be used during pregnancy.
The blend I created for her contained a top note of Bergamont (Citrus bergamia), middle note of Juniper Berry (Juniperus osteosperma), and base note of Frankincense: Carterii (Boswellia carterii). The reason I put together this blend is because it can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, irritability, and excessive worry. The combination of Bergamont (Citrus bergamia), Juniper Berry (Juniperus osteosperma), and Frankincense: Carterii (Boswellia carterii) creates an emotionally uplifting, relaxing, and calming therapeutic blend. I provided her the blend in an inhaler form so she could have it readily available whenever and wherever she needed it. At first, she was apprehensive about using the inhaler, but she soon realized how much relief it provided.
Colds and Flu
With kids in school, it is easier to count the few times they don’t have a cold than the many times that they do. Schools are a breeding ground for colds and flu because kids are in close quarters and do not take the proper precautions that are necessary to help keep themselves healthy. As a preventative measure, I have created nighttime and daytime diffuser blends to help support everyone’s immune systems.
One example nighttime diffuser blend that I have used to reduce the likelihood of anyone getting sick contains a top note of Orange: Sweet (Citrus sinensis), middle note of Lavender: Bulgaria (Lavandula angustifolia), and base note of Frankincense: Carterii (Boswellia carterii). Although similar to that used in the allergy blend, the middle note of Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) has been replaced with Lavender: Bulgaria (Lavandula angustifolia). Lavender: Bulgaria (Lavandula angustifolia) is similar to Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) in that it is also a decongestant, but most importantly the blend itself offers therapeutic properties like being antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial.
An example daytime blend contains a top note of Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), middle note of Marjoram: Sweet (Origanum majorana), and a base note of Myrrh (Commiphora Myrrha). Although the intention of the blend is the same, to be antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial, it does not have the sedative aspect which would help the person relax and go to sleep.
Myrrh (Commiphora Myrrha) “is well known for its spiritual aspects, but is also suitable for expelling mucus and phlegm from the lungs and helps with ailments such as colds, coughs, sore throats and bronchitis” (Totilo, 2016).
Four of the six people that live in our house are female. When PMS cramps start up, they are unrelenting and the mood in our house can take a drastic turn for the worse. Without modern medicine, it can be even more unbearable. Midol and similar medicines have ingredients which are supposed to reduce bloating, achiness, and irritability. Luckily, there are essential oils that can do the same thing.
One example blend that I have used for PMS cramping is applied topically via unscented cream. It contains a top note of Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), middle note of Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), and base note of Rose Otto: Bulgarian (Rosa damascena). This blend has therapeutic uses which are able to mitigate PMS symptoms including cramping, headaches, hormonal changes, and irritability.
This blend is able to help with the various female problems when applied directly to the affected area. Typical usage ranges from two to three times per day for the duration of symptoms. When applied properly, family members have felt relief from the pain of cramping. This method of relief uses less toxic ingredients than medicine.
In our household, there are many different reasons that someone could get a sore stomach. From dairy allergies to Celiac’s disease, our family runs the gambit of issues that could cause stomach issues. Other causes of stomach ailments can include stress and diet. As a household, we were looking for a natural way to relieve symptoms including painful cramps, gas, indigestion, and constipation. Depending on the blend, essential oils can be stimulating, uplifting, refreshing, and invigorating. The blend I created is best used before meals and before bed. It is applied via a cream which is massaged into the stomach.
The blend contains a top note of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgars), middle note of Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum), and base note of Ginger (Zingiber officinale). It helps settle the digestive tract and assists in preventing gas and indigestion. This blend helps because it is able to reduce spasms in the digestive tract while reducing diarrhea from having an upset stomach. It also helps reduce the likelihood of nausea and vomiting. For this blend in particular, I used four ounces of unscented lotion, eighteen drops of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgars), twelve drops of Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum), and six drops of Ginger (Zingiber officinale). It should not be used during pregnancy and it is best to avoid exposure to the sun when using it because it can cause photosensitivity and irritate the skin where it is applied. I would recommend a skin test in a discreet area to make sure there is no skin irritation.
While conducting research and going through the textbooks, I have gained a lot of knowledge about how the various blends should be put together. I realized that there are a lot of things that need to be done in a specific way to make sure the blend works properly and has the effect I am trying to achieve. My friends and family have seen the benefits that using essential oils can have and have come back to request additional assistance when new things begin troubling them. There are a lot of similar benefits that the various essential oils can have but certain oils are better for specific conditions than others. I have also used my own experiences to grow my knowledge of the oils. I have found myself using particular oils more than others because they tend to have more of an effect on my body. The more research I do, the more I realize just how beneficial essential oils can be for everyone. From hand soaps to body wash, I have fully transitioned over to natural essential oil blends. I have not had to go to the store to purchase additional allergy medicines in nearly a year. My daughter has used essential oil blends to help with her motion sickness during car rides. I have reduced the amount of pain medicine that I have had to use during menstrual cycles and have found greater relief. I even use it to help with my acne treatment so I do not have to get benzoyl peroxide from the dermatologist. Nearly every aspect of my life has undergone a more natural approach to staying healthy. I feel healthier, but it has also provided financial relief because I am not having to spend as much money on medications for everyone in the house.
Totilo, R. P. (2013). Therapeutic Blending With Essential Oil. St. Petersburg: Rebecca at the Well Foundation.
Totilo, R. P. (2015). Aromatherapy Certification Program Level 1. St Petersburg: Rebecca at the Well Foundation.
Totilo, R. P. (2016). Aromatherapy Certification Program Level 2. St Petersburg: Rebecca at the Well Foundation.