Through my wellbeing journey, I’ve come across many new concepts and fads. Some have been fantastic and some have been just fads, however, whilst studying ayurveda and nutrition, I discovered something that definitely falls into the ‘fantastic’ category. This discovery was the incredible power of essential oils.
Their uses are so varied and effective, for use in health, treatment of ongoing ailments, cooking and cleaning that I have now replaced almost everything ‘synthetic’ in my home. The result has been two cold and flu seasons without any antibiotics (no small feat with a 4 year old in school) and I can clean with confidence knowing that there are no harmful chemicals being used in our home or our environment. We’ve applied the same ethos at Azul and in my husband’s studio and use essential oils in our cleaning products and also for cleaning the mats and apparatus.
Found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants, essential oils are natural, aromatic compounds. Some essential oils are anti-fungal and antibacterial and their uses are extremely varied. I use essential oils in my cooking and treatments to enhance the experience and also to help resolve any seasonal imbalances that may arise during the change in seasons, to prevent or cure bouts of illness, to reduce stress, and much more. In short, I can’t live without them.
In a western world where we are encouraged to dive into the medicine cabinet at the first sign of a sniffle or sore throat, I feel that we have overlooked some of nature’s more simple remedies.
Here is a little ‘how to’ for using essential oils, my favourite essential oils products and the ‘essential’ essential oils to get you started on your journey to better health and balance and to keep you healthy this winter.
1) Easy to use
My favourite thing about essential oils is how easy they are to use. You can almost never go wrong with pure essential oils, as long as you are mindful of their strength and potency. For example you can add a drop of ginger essential oil to your favourite tea to help sluggish digestion in the winter months.
2) Use them ‘neat’
For stress relief, colds, and healing, they are so easy to use topically and many can also be used internally. Some oils can be used neat (without diluting), or can be combined with a carrier oil like coconut or avocado oil. You can rub essential oils into the bottoms of your feet (try lemon to revitalize and boost circulation or lavender to relax), into your sore neck/ shoulders (try peppermint or lavender mixed with a carrier oil), or use them in an aromatic bath. Now tell me that isn’t better than sitting in the GP’s waiting room, browsing through old copies of OK magazine this winter?
3) Oh so powerful
Some of the oils are very potent (like peppermint or eucalyptus for respiratory conditions) and need to be used with a carrier oil or diluted one drop to ten in a carrier oil or pure water. If you follow the directions, then you really can’t go wrong. Coconut oil is an all-natural carrier oil that readily absorbs into the skin, making it ideal for skin which may be sensitive to the essential oils, but it also helps the oils permeate and absorb into our skin.
4) Mood enhancers, energy boosters, stress reducers!
For aromatherapy, essential oils provide a quick boost and can enhance your energy and mood when you need a pick me up. They can also transform a room instantly from static nervous energy to an oasis of peace. They can be extremely grounding to help you unwind after a stressful day or situation and help you draw inwards, creating an instant connection with your senses and leaving your day and worries behind you. You can use essential oil in your home yoga or Pilates practice, the scent helps you to ‘get out of your head’ and draw inwards, helping you identify with your senses again. In short, they help you get into the moment. Sandalwood, lavender, frankincense and clary sage are all great practice enhancers and can be used topically or in a diffuser.
5) Oh no – I forgot the ginger!
When cooking, they can provide a fragrant and extremely beneficial boost (adding both flavour and health benefits) to any dish. They are amazing to have on hand for that recipe for which you bought everything, down to the turmeric, but you forgot the ginger/ basil / coriander / oregano / rosemary / lemongrass / thyme – we have all been there! Stock up on two or three of your staple herbs and you will have everything you need to help you cook healthy, delicious meals through winter. You only need a drop or two in a sauce or even in a full size curry recipe.
They can be baked into delicious and healthy snacks and treats or blended in your green juices or smoothies to add an immune or cleansing boost. Add a drop of basil essential oil to your favourite pasta sauce and voila! Delicious pasta sauce with the intrinsic benefits of soothing sore muscles and joints.
The citrus essential oils like grapefruit, lemon and orange can be added (just a drop or two) to your glass of water for cleansing and you will feel the benefits in your improved energy levels and the clarity of your eyes and skin within a couple of days. They truly do help restore balance and the pure crisp flavours guide your palette away from unhealthy cravings without any struggle.
6) Family first
The best (and for me most important) use of them is on my family. My son suffered from respiratory issues for much of his first year and had excess mucus. Along with some small dietary changes, we have used essential oils like tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus with him regularly. When he brings home any signs of sniffles or cough we use essential oils in his bath and before bedtime and he is usually back to health again within a day or two. Its so reassuring being able to treat him safely, gently, whilst also allowing his immune system to fight infection naturally. Did I mention I love essential oils?
Essential Oils to get you started
Here are a few of my favourite oils for their versatility. They are also extremely affordable, which is great.
1) Tea Tree oil – melaleuca
(oh miracle of miracle workers)
Tea tree oil has been used by hundreds of years for its healing properties. It is known used as an analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-viral and as a disinfectant.
Use tea tree (melaleuca) at the onset of cold or flu symptoms this winter. (Be sure to use a tea tree oil suitable for internal use.) Add 2 – 5 drops to a teaspoon of agave or organic honey and swallow, or add the oil to tea with honey. Its safe to do this every hour until symptoms improve, then continue or use it topically 2 – 3 times per day. For gum inflammation, cuts, bites, fungus, athlete’s foot, a wide range of skin disorders and less severe burns, apply melaleuca topically and neat (undiluted). For application to more sensitive areas, dilute with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. You can even use it for dandruff adding a 5% dilution to your favourite shampoo.
2) Lemon Essential oil
Lemon essential oil should form the ‘core’ of your essential oil collection. It’s an aromatic powerhouse, useful for everything from disinfecting surfaces to lifting the mood. Citrus essential oils contain limonene which has been extensively researched for its protective influence to cells.
Lemon essential oil benefits include being an anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-viral, astringent, diuretic and disinfectant.
You can use a drop of lemon essential oil in your water for a little purifying detox each morning (try also cleaning the tongue each morning before your lemon water for maximum benefit). It can be used in the afternoons for a quick energy boost (rubbed on your palms, diluted in a spray, or add a drop to your favourite herbal tea!) It can also be applied to the bottom of the feet to improve circulation, or used on varicose veins to relieve pressure and improve circulation. Use lemon essential oil to combat respiratory infections or to provide relief from coughs or sore throats.
You can use lemon essential oil on acne, on clean dry skin with a cotton ball or bud. You can also use lemon essential oil in a diffuser to improve mental clarity for a particularly big project, when you study, or to help keep you alert. Note: Citrus oils should NOT be applied to skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight or UV within 72 hours.
To make your own cleaning spray:
▪ Fill a clean spray bottle 7/8 full using pure filtered water.
▪ add 5-6 drops lemon essential oil
▪ add 6-10 drops melaleuca essential oil
▪ add 4 drops of your favourite scented essential oil, if desired
3) Lavender essential oil
Lavender has an unmistakable aroma and has many therapeutic properties. It is widely used for its calming and relaxing qualities and can also be used to treat burns and many types of skin inflammation.
It can be applied topically, used aromatically, or also for dietary use. Lavendar can be used neat – you only need 1 drop, but I recommend diluting it with a carrier oil and testing it on skin or in a diffuser if you have sensitive skin.
Exposure to lavender scent helps curb the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that can trigger inflammation and lead to premature aging. Other studies demonstrate lavender’s support in fighting insomnia. Lavender also has antiseptic properties, and can be used to calm headaches, when rubbed onto the temples. Lavender, combined with a carrier oil, can be used to treat eczema.
Other favorites in my essential oil toolbox: Grapefruit, Ginger, Peppermint (use this with a carrier oil), fennel, frankincense and Patchouli (for its grounding effects in winter).
My favourite winter essential oil blends
1) Breath Essential oil
Essential oils are a perfect way to address congestion — and many other respiratory issues — with sustained benefit. Breathe essential oil contains laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon and ravensara, that can be applied topically to the affected area such as the chest or back. When combined with a warm, moist compress, you can feel the deep, penetrating, therapeutic effects. The oils combine to open airways and alleviate respiratory stress by promoting the elimination of bacteria and viruses, and soothing inflamed tissues and airways.
2) On Guard Essential oil
A combination of Wild Orange, Clove Bud, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils. This powerful winter blend helps support healthy immune function. Use it at home or work to clean countertops, or to purify the air though diffusion.
Buying essential oils
I use and highly recommend DoTerra essential oils. Their oils are high quality, pure, easy to use, and clearly marked.
Its important to always look for Pure (ideally) therapeutic grade essential oils and to be sure to follow a guide regarding their use. For example some companies offer essential oils which are not suitable for internal use, so you do have to be very careful. Other oils have fillers, which means they don’t have the same benefits or potency, and their fillers might cause adverse reactions. Some oils will clearly say if they are suitable for topical or internal use. Make sure that any essential oils you buy are clean, almost crisp, to the touch and are immediately absorbed by the skin. Pure, unadulterated essential oils are translucent and range in color from crystal clear to deep blue.Disclaimer: If you have any medical conditions, please do consult a doctor before using essential oils, especially internally or topically. If symptoms persist or you have an adverse reaction, always use common sense and consult a pharmacist or doctor. This blog is written with helpful tips for you and your family, however it is by no means medical advice.
|About the author|
|A geneticist by training, Karissa Isaac is a strong believer in a holistic approach to wellbeing and the benefits of Pilates and yoga. She put her passion for holistic health into founding Azul along with husband Jamie Isaac. She is studying Ayurveda with the Dogwood School of Botanical medicine and is a strong believer and practitioner in the healing powers of movement, nutrition, essential oils and reiki, as well as good old fashioned love and kindness. Karissa is following her love of healing and holistic wellbeing and continues to work on new and exciting Azul projects and events.|