There was a time when I didn’t know anything about essential oils. I thought essential oils existed only to make things smell good and I liked that about them. I didn’t like how much they cost, but I knew I wanted the best-smelling oils which led me to doTerra. I bought a few bottles of oils and a diffuser and I thought I was all set.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Today, I am downright passionate about natural health and essential oils. Once I started to see that essential oils could be powerful natural tools, I set out to learn as much as I could about how and why essential oils work. I bought all the books about essential oils, took classes, and got certified as an essential oils specialist.
You don’t need a degree in chemistry or extensive training to know how to use essential oils effectively. With a basic understanding of safety precautions and application methods, it is easy to start using essential oils and reap the benefits of these gifts of the earth!
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are extracts from plants with amazing health benefits. Did you know that essential oils are actually all around us? They can be found in everyday products you use, like perfumes and shampoos. They flavor candy and toothpaste. They’re hidden in the zest of lemons, the needles of pine trees, and the petals of roses. Essential oils are the essence of a plant, distilled into usable oil. Essential oils are naturally occurring aromatic compounds extracted from the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. An essential oil is 50-70x more potent than the herb it is extracted from.
Essential oils are extracted from plants, but not every plant produces essential oil. Out of the enormous number of plant species on Earth, fewer than 5% are known to do so. So far, 17,500 aromatic plants have been investigated to see whether they can produce essential oils. Of those plants, 2,000 are used to produce 3,000 different essential oils. That difference means some plants are used to create multiple oils. For instance, coriander and cilantro, two favorite kitchen herbs, come from the same plant. They’re two completely different essential oils from their smell to their chemical makeup—the difference is that coriander comes from the seed and cilantro from the leaf. Of these 3,000 essential oils, only 300 are commonly produced. Essential oils are quickly growing in popularity, so hopefully, we’ll see a wider variety make their mark in the future.
There are plenty of options when it comes to brands of essential oils. doTerra came on the market in 2009 and quickly became the largest essential oil company in the world. Not only that, but they are the most tested, most trusted, and used in more healthcare facilities than any other essential oil company.
The FDA doesn’t regulate essential oils. That means any company can say their essential oils are safe and pure and no one is the wiser. Essential oils are expensive and painstaking to extract.
Here’s basically how it works:
- a farmer grows a plant
- a company buys the plant to extract the essential oils (this company is commonly called a broker)
- the broker then sells the essential oils to a distributor who puts a label on it
Without testing, there is no way to know if the broker has adulterated the oil to increase the quantity. A company may have a product that they don’t adulterate, but unless they are part of the extraction, there is no way for them to be sure without proper testing. doTerra buys directly from the farmers and then employs locals to extract the oils, cutting out the broker completely. They also use eight different testing methods before bottling to be sure the essential oils are completely pure and unadulterated. To help maintain transparency, doTerra gives every bottle a unique identifier that you can use to verify the testing of your essential oil at Source to You.
I love that doTerra cares about sourcing in ways that impact communities. Every oil sold by doTERRA is responsibly and sustainably sourced. doTERRA focuses on sourcing practices that will produce only the highest quality essential oils and will be sustainable for years to come—no matter the cost. Through the Co-Impact Sourcing® Initiative doTerra is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of farmers, harvesters, and distillers who contribute to doTERRA’s oil production.
Here are some things to look for in an essential oil company:
- Sustainable and responsible sourcing (Where do their oils come from?)
- Extensive and thorough testing (Do they test their oils for adulteration and contamination?)
- Clear and accessible safety and usage information (Do they show customers how to use the oils safely?)
- Transparency (Do they use third-party testing? Do they make test results public?)
Three ways to use essential oils
Aromatic use is the easiest way to reap the benefits of essential oils. There is a nerve at the bridge of our nose called the olfactory nerve. It sends a signal to our brain’s limbic system, which distributes it throughout the body. Smelling something triggers the olfactory nerve and can reach every cell in our body within 22 seconds. It’s pretty powerful. Some essential oils induce uplifting or invigorating effects, while others are more calming. Smelling the oil right out of the bottle is the easiest way to trigger this effect, diffusing is another way to use essential oil aromatically.
Diffuse or inhale to:
- Positively affect mood
- Cleanse the air
- Open airways
Other ways to use essential oils aromatically:
- Apply oil to a cotton ball and place it in the air vents of your vehicle
- Mix oils in a spray bottle with water and mist over furniture, carpet, or linens
- Add oil to a batch of laundry or to dryer sheets
- Use in household surface cleaners
We use essential oils topically for localized benefits like minor skin issues, immune support, muscle, and joint discomfort, and for mood support. To help prevent any skin sensitivities and to give your skin a chance to absorb the oil before it evaporates, use essential oils in a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil), in a lotion or moisturizer, or add it to a massage. You can also apply essential oils to the bottom of your feet. The skin on the bottom of the feet is not as sensitive and will absorb quickly.
Beneficial Areas You Can Apply Essential Oils
- Forehead and temples
- Chest and abdomen
- Arms, legs, bottoms of feet
Other Ways to Use Essential Oils Topically
- Add a few drops of oil to a warm bath
- Add to a warm or cool compress
- Add oil to a lotion or moisturizer and then apply to the skin
Among the single oils doTERRA offers currently, 37 are safe for internal use. Using oils internally is a method that is best used only when you have a specific area of concern that can only be met by ingesting the essential oil. Keep in mind that you only need a drop or two at a time to reap the benefits of the oil. There are several ways to take oils internally; you can cook with the oils, take them in beverages, or put them in a veggie capsule to swallow.
How to use essential oils internally:
- Add to water, smoothies, milk, tea, or other drinks
- Put a drop under the tongue
- Take in a veggie capsule
- Use oils in recipes for cooking or baking (use a toothpick to start)
Reasons to use essential oils internally
- To support the immune system or respiratory system*
- To aid in digestion, help ease upset stomach, and/or indigestion*
- To help cleanse internal bodily systems.*
Essential Oils Safety
Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when you are learning how to use essential oils:
Essential Oil Safety Guidelines
- Avoid applying oils to sensitive areas like the nose, ears, eyes, or broken skin. Avoid using “hot oils” on the face.
- Always read labels and package instructions before using essential oils for the first time.
- Use dilution to minimize skin sensitivity.
- Be aware of oils with sun sensitivity warnings.
- Practice safe storage—keep oils out of reach of children.
- Always supervise young children when applying essential oils.
- If you have specific health concerns, talk to a healthcare professional before trying essential oils.
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