From your kitchen to your bathroom, these days the emphasis on oils is every where. We know we need them + the overall benefits from use, but have you ever thought about their application to your mental health? This week I teamed up with Elizabeth B., a Durham, NC based research coordinator at an integrative medicine clinic, integrative health coach, yoga teacher, essential oil teacher, + mum of two adorable fraternal twins. In this hybrid post, Elizabeth is here to help us navigate essential oils for self-care.
Did you know that essential oils (EOs) aren’t actually oils? They’re highly concentrated plant compounds! An incredible amount of plants are required to produce the oil which is why small batch products tend to cost a bit more when they are added to products. When stored properly (and in dark, glass vials) they can be kept anywhere from three to five years. When you think of it this way, the original sale value is a long term affordable purchase. EOs are lipid soluble which means they readily pass through membranes; with a fast level of absorption– they get to work in about 20 minutes.
Fun Facts: Egyptians studied herbs + used them in medicinal + religious ceremonies as early as 3500 B.C. Herbalists/healers (dubbed witches) used Essential Oils back in the day + were hung for their fear of curative properties! There is overwhelming information about the health benefits of incorporating EOs into your life. I’m going to break down which EOs are also important for your mental health + skin– but first, here’s a quick pocket guide for reference:
Not all oils are created equally + fragrance oils + EOs are not the same thing. Watch out for inferior oils + be sure to ask questions surrounding quality- no synthetics! Also, don’t think because the oil has a super high priced ticket it’s worth more or “better” than one that is more economical.
Test your EO for purity:
put a single drop of it on a piece of paper.
if it evaporates quickly + does not leave a, noticeable ring on the paper- it is pure.
if you have residual product + a ring left behind, it’s probable that your EO is diluted with another oil
Test for skin sensitivity:
prepare one drop of EO with 1/2 tsp of a carrier oil (olive, sweet almond, jojoba)
rub this combination on the inside of your arm + wait a few hours to see if redness or itching develop
if no symptoms present you’re likely in the clear (disclaimer)
EOs have been proven to help with anything from PTSD to depression + anxiety. Additionally, most essential oils are high in antibacterial + antiviral properties making them excellent for homemade, natural cleaning supplies. Since your body can become polluted throughout the year, EOs can also help clean and detox. The possibilities are really endless, so here are a few ways to use specific EOs in various categories.
Stress Reduction: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Jasmine, Lavender
Anxiety: Lavender, Rose, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Chamomile
Memory + Focus: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Ginger, Eucalyptus
Depression/Mood: Basil, Mandarin, Lavender, Jasmine, Vetiver
Sleep: Lavender, Jasmine, Yuzu, Sage
Weight Management: Grapefruit, Cinnamon, Fennel, Lemon, Ginger
Skin: Myrrh, Tea Tree, Juniper Berry, Frankincense, Geranium, Birch, Helichrysum
Energy: Cypress, Lime, Lemon, Rose, Vetiver
Positive Distraction of The Week
This week Elizabeth breaks down specific ideas for using essential oils for simple self-care this week. She says “I first realized essential oils were amazing when a whiff of peppermint oil instantly cured the world’s worst bout of hiccups.” Elizabeth teaches people about therapeutic-grade essential oils + you can also purchase them through her as well, so you know you’re getting the real deal. Here are a few self-care X essential oil ideas from Elizabeth that youcan incorporate in your week:
1. meditation and yoga
you can either diffuse essential oils in your meditation space or rub 1-2 drops of your favorite oil on your temples, wrists, chest/heart area, or the soles of your feet. the aroma can help deepen your breathing, give you a point of focus for mindfulness mediation, and add simple beauty to your practice. Elizabeth suggests: Balance + Forgive
2. hot bath or shower
place a few drops of essential oil in the bottom of a hot shower, the steam from the water will help disperse the aroma, or in a bath as you are running the water. Elizabeth says: “this is definitely a downplayed luxury” + I couldn’t agree more. Elizabeth suggests: Lavender, Chamomile, + Balance
3. boring self-care
if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, essential oils can be used to support clear breathing + respiratory function. this can help boost your immunity + support healing of many common aliments. if you’re congested try putting 1-2 drops of essential oil in a mug or bowl of steaming water to make a personal inhaler, or rub a few drops on your chest and the bottoms of your feet. Elizabeth suggests: Breathe
4. sleep peacefully
lavender is a wonderful oil for supporting restful, easy, sleep. it contains a specific chemic constituent called ‘linalool’ that has a mild sedative effect and helps ease stressful feelings. try diffusing it, putting a couple of drops on a cotton ball or cloth that you place near your pillow. Elizabeth suggests: Lavender
5. increase energy
here is a fun idea: place 1-2 drops of essential oil on the palms of your hands. rub your palms together, then cup your palms over your nose and inhale gently. then rub your hands over the back of your neck for a mild cooling sensation. Elizabeth suggests: Peppermint
6. boost your mood
because essential oils are known for their mood lifting effects, try diffusing them in your environment by putting a drop on a cotton ball and putting the cotton ball in your AC vent in your car if you’re driving or rubbing a drop or two on your wrists. You can event utilize various essential oils to increase household cleaning! Elizabeth suggests: Bergamot, Lemon, Wild Orange
7. body care
whether you have a partner or not, use essential oils in a massage by diluting them with a vegetable or seed-based carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or grapeseed oil. you will need approximately 1-3 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil. Elizabeth suggests: Balance, Forgive, Lavender
Elizabeth also provides a few safety guidelines for EO use:
Don’t let them get in your eyes. If they do, thoroughly flush with water.
If you have skin sensitivities, dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil.
Don’t put citrus directly on your skin and then bathe in the sun.
If you choose to use essential oils internally, IE. peppermint oil in your mouth, only use therapeutic grade oils. most essential oils that you find on the shelf are not therapeutic even if they say 100% pure.
Elizabeth is available as a resource if you have any questions at all about using essential oils for self-care or for emotional support.
Thanks so much for following-up! You can like this post below via heart-moji! Be sure to share this with a friend who could also use a bit of balance in their week, comment down below and let Elizabeth and I know what you thought! Be sure to follow-up in a week!
Best, Dr. Dyce