Saturday, November 23, 2013

Amateur Fun with Essential Oils

I've been hearing about essential oils more frequently in the last year or so, from various sources. Sometimes I hear about them from folks I never would have guessed would be interested in them, because they aren't into natural or alternative anything else- but they love them! I personally am interested- if not actively pursuing- just about any alternative options to western medicine and diet, but for a long time I was stymied on the issue of the alternative "home medicine cabinet"; I was torn between going the herbal route, or the essential oils route. I suppose it's possible to mix and match, but I didn't know much about either discipline, and from what I had read, there wasn't any literature that even suggested mixing the two-- it seemed to be a one or the other kind of situation.

In all honesty, I was more inclined to go towards herbal. Herbs can be grown, after all, which means saving a buck as well as going for natural remedies. I bought several books on the topic, and was intrigued by it. Unfortunately, I was also overwhelmed. Herbal stuff is a pretty big project if you want to do more than just teas. Alternatively, essential oils were easier. You don't have to prepare anything or learn a new language (tincture? diffusion? what?), just apply. But they're something you have to buy, and they aren't cheap, which was a big strike against them in my frugal book.

So I didn't make a decision, and just kept pondering. It wasn't until I was in Hawaii several weeks back, that I started leaning towards essential oils. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes my first few days there, and was offered some lavender EO to try on them. It worked! I don't think the brand was particularly high quality/potency, since I had to apply it more frequently than I do the oils I buy now, but it definitely calmed the itching and minimized discomfort upon application. I was intrigued, and seriously inclined to head down the EO route. Then I read that the benefit of EOs over herbs is that one drop of an EO is equal to about 20 cups of tea made from the same plant. Somehow that was what made it click for me, that here was a reason to choose one over the other. Not that EOs are better than herbs, but they're certainly more efficient.

When I got back home, I found out that a friend of mine was going to start selling the EOs, so that she could quit her job and be a SAH mommy. That was pretty much what made my final decision. I'm a big proponent of staying home to raise your kids when possible, so if I could help this SAHM make a go of it while spending money I was already inclined to spend, then I was definitely going to.

So I ordered a few basic oils to start with: lemon, lavender, and peppermint. I wasn't super sure what to do with them, initially, but I tried a couple of the suggestions that they came with, and as I got more familiar with what their uses were, I made up my own ideas. I ended up having so much more fun with them than I thought I would! The next month I ordered a few more, and experimented with them too. Next on my list is a diffuser, so I can "apply" them more easily and, of course, make the house smell yummy.  :-)

What did I find for uses? Well, peppermint was my first fun. I put a couple drops inside a roll of toilet paper and put it in place. Every time you pull on it a waft of peppermint comes yummy! I recently discovered that if you put a drop of peppermint in a mocha latte, it's a peppermint mocha latte! It's slightly cheaper than buying a peppermint mocha latte, and you get the flavor with a little bit less of the junk, since you're bypassing the peppermint syrup. It's the little things.  :-) Rob has taken to putting it in home-brewed coffee with cream. It's also an "upper"...I haven't proved this through multiple attempts yet, but I have put peppermint on my temples in the morning and as far as I can tell, it was a great perk. I've heard it's great for headaches, as well.

Lemon is great for all things cleaning. I love the smell of lemon, so I'm not real hard to please...I dropped several drops in all my cleaning bottles (which are homemade stuff, so this just added a nice scent to a mild cleaner). Straight oil works great on hard water residue. You can add a drop to your drinking water for the benefits it provides. (It's an "upper" too, as well as anti-fungal and a detoxer of sorts.) If you make your own laundry soap, you can add it into that.

I've used lavender for pretty much anything skin irritation related. Bug bites, rug burns (don't ask; but it did have to do with the chickens...), minor rash/irritation, etc. I've never liked the scent of lavender, but I'm learning to now, because it turns out that real lavender is much better smelling than all the synthetic counterparts that you smell in candles and scented products. It's also great for helping you sleep, since it's a calmer, and while it doesn't help me sleep if I'm just not tired, it is fabulous for getting me to sleep if my issue is just that my brain won't turn off. Lavender on my temples worked within minutes.

There's a lot of hoopla out there about brand loyalty, and honestly, I think it's kind of overdone. There's more than one good brand, and I say that even while being very fond of my chosen brand. The point is for these oils to help people, so if they never buy them because of brand-wars that make them uncertain, what's the point in that? I will say that there are actual cheap brands, that I have bought and found to be much less potent than pricier brands. From what I've read and understand, this is because they are watered down, so to speak; there's less of the EO in the bottle, and it's diluted with alcohol or other carrier. Presumably the same company that would do this would not be quite as meticulous about the process of extracting the oils, so they might not be as helpful as other options. The bottom line is, though, that if it works for you, or is a lower price that gives you the courage to experiment, I say go for it. Whether you stick with that brand or not, you have to start somewhere, and trying to figure out where to start because everybody's rabid about their own brand is not the way to go.  :-)

I'm not going to go into brands here, although if you leave a question in comments, I'm happy to answer. Let me make it clear that I do NOT sell these oils, so I'm not trying to drum up business; I'm simply sharing my journey with them, which is just barely started.

I know I'm not the only person out there who uses these things, so please don't leave without posting in comments-- how do you use your EOs and what are your favorites?  Inquiring minds want to learn!


  1. Might get me hooked! Lavender & peppermint sound the most enticing at the moment since I don't make my own soaps. Does she sell them in a multi-tiered organization similar to the Mary Kay setup? How do you know if it is a good quality, potent EO or a warered-down variety?

    1. I'll text you the info and you can get ahold of her. :-)