Essential oils are widely available and have many useful properties. They are powerful so should be used with care. In general they should be diluted in a carrier oil before applying to the skin. See the posts on Herbal Remedies and Supplements for more ideas.
- Carrier oils – any oil can be used as a carrier oil to dilute essential oils before application to the skin. Almond oil, sesame oil and coconut oil all have beneficial properties in their own right so can enhance the effects of the essential oils with which they are combined.
- Citronella – an excellent insect repellent so if it’s mosquito season apply citronella mixed with a carrier oil to exposed areas of skin. Also add citronella to a diffuser to keep the bugs away.
- Clove oil – at the first hint of toothache or sore gums apply a drop of clove oil and rub it in. It will numb the pain and reduce the infection that is causing the pain and swelling.
- Lavender oil – lavender has calming and relaxing properties. Inhaling it before bed can aid sleep so sprinkle a few drops onto your pillow or add it to the bath for a relaxing treat. It can be dabbed onto bites and burns to soothe and reduce itching and inflammation.
- Olbas oil – olbas oil is a mixture of peppermint, wintergreen, juniper, clove, eucalyptus and cajeput oils. It’s a great help for any nasal or bronchial congestion. Put a few drops onto a hanky and inhale. Or put some drops on a tissue and tuck it inside your pillow case before bed to aid breathing while you sleep. Olbas oil also aids circulation and loosens muscles; mix it with a carrier oil and use to massage sore muscles after exercise. To relieve stress rub a drop of olbas oil into each temple.
- Oregano oil – a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent oregano oil can be can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically to skin problems such as athletes foot and fungal nails. Food grade oregano oil can also be diluted and taken internally to treat SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and some parasites. Gel capsules of oregano may be preferable for some due to the strong taste of the oil.
- Tea Tree oil – a strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent that can be diluted and used on athletes foot and fungal nails. It can also be dabbed onto acne and insect bites. Products containing tea tree oil are widely available and tailored to different uses. Being a strong disinfectant it’s useful for cleaning kitchen surfaces and bathrooms.
- Ready made oils and creams – there are many oils, lotions and creams available containing various combinations of essential oils. Some have specific applications such as nappy rash or eczema. These can be highly effective and can be a good way to get know what works on your skin.
And don’t forget:
- Rescue remedy – many people swear by this and carry it with them wherever they go. It’s not really an essential oil but a combination of 5 Bach Flower Remedies. A few drops can be taken when any shock or trauma is suffered, be it physical or emotional. It has a rebalancing effect on the body.
- Witch Hazel – the leaves and bark of witch hazel are used to make teas and ointments. It is widely available as witch hazel water in pharmacists and health stores. It has anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties that can soothe bruises, cuts, bites, stings, acne and other skin inflammations.
How to Use Essential Oils
- On the skin – combine a few drops of your chosen oil or oils with a tablespoon of carrier oil. Do a patch test on the inside of the wrist if you are using ingredients that are new to you. If the skin does not react adversely rub into the area of skin that needs attention or use as a therapeutic massage oil. Store in a coloured glass container with a lid in a cool place. Use within a week or top up with extra essential oils as the potency reduces over time.
- In the bath – after running the bath add a few drops of essential oil to the water. You will derive the benefits through the skin as well as through the nasal passages.
- Inhalant steam bath – sprinkle a few drops of essential oil into a bowl of hot water. Put a towel over your head and lean over the bowl to allow the vapours to penetrate the skin and the nose. Good for congestion and for cleansing the skin.
- In a diffuser – sprinkle a few drops of essential oil along with some water in a diffuser and absorb the benefits through the atmosphere.