Essential Oil Basics

Love the idea of botanical remedies but unsure where to start? Looking to replace some of the products you use with a more natural solutions? Interested in improving overall health and wellness? Prefer more natural options for your family? Essential oils!

What are essential oils? 

Essential oils are highly concentrated, aromatic compounds from plants. A wide variety of different essential oils are available. They may be produced from the seeds, bark, leaves, flowers, roots or peels of some fruits. Essential oils are more than just scents though - they can provide many therapeutic benefits.

What can you use essential oils for?

Anything really!  Oils can be beneficial to anyone, for a variety of physical and mental health complaints as well as for general wellness. Some of the most common uses for oils include skin conditions such as acne and eczema, pain complaints, cold/flu symptoms, occasional anxiety or depressed mood, promoting relaxation and relieving stress.

How are essential oils used?

Oils can be used topically, diffused into the air, and some oils can be ingested. Oils can also be used for making personal care and cleaning products. In general when used topically oils should be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil or jojoba. Use the same quality of oils that you can cook with and consume, as the oils are absorbed through your skin. If diffused it is best to use an ultrasonic diffuser that does not use any heat as this can destroy many of the therapeutic properties of the oil. Take particular care with ingestion of essential oils. If you are not well versed in aromatherapy suggest consulting with someone that is prior to ingestion of oils. In particular be very careful about the brand you choose to ingest as oils are not regulated and many are contaminated with chemicals, pesticides or synthetics.  

Are there any safety precautions for oils? 

In general, oils should be diluted with a carrier oil as above. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example lavender and tea tree may be applied to small areas undiluted, referred to as “neat”. Young Living has an in-house pharmacist, Dr. Lindsey Elmore. She is an amazing resource for safety and efficacy of oils. What a cool job! Here is a link to her essential oil safety guide that answers many common questions, including use during pregnancy and for children: Young Living Essential Oil Safety Guide

Certain oils should be avoid for those with seizure disorders: Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Sage (Salvia officinalis), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Thuja (Thuya occidentalis), Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium).

The following should be avoided or used with expert consultation during pregnancy or breastfeeding: aniseed, basil, birch, calamus, camphor, cassia, cinnamon bark, hyssop, Idaho tansy, jasmine, lavandin, mugwort, parsley, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, tansy, tarragon, thuja, thyme, wintergreen, wormwood. Use the following oils with caution: angelica, cedarwood, chamomile (German/blue), cistus, citronella, clary sage, clove bud, cypress, davana, fennel, bay laurel, marjoram, mountain savory, myrrh, nutmeg, peppermint, rose, spearmint, vetiver, yarrow. Peppermint on the abdomen should be avoided during pregnancy.

Great!  Where can I get oils?

Please be careful, do your research, and find a company that you can trust. Oils are not created equally. There is a wide range of quality, purity, and prices for essential oils. Unfortunately “100% pure” on a label does not necessarily mean the oil is really pure. Consider how the oils are distilled - steam distillation or cold-pressed are preferred. Many brands obtain oils by solvent extraction, using chemicals to obtain the compounds. These types of oils should never be ingested or used topically. My personal favorite and what I choose to use for my family is Young Living Essential Oils.

How to Purchase Oils

We chose Young Living oils for the following reasons:

  1. Young Living has been around for over 20 years and has the Seed To Seal Guarantee. They are the only company in the world that owns their own farms and distills many of their own oils. Their partner farms are exclusive and grown under the same conditions. The farms are open to the public and you can see how they operate and even participate in harvest or distillation if you choose!  I love the transparency. Every other company buys their product from third party growers. Young Living only uses 1st distillation oils so they are much more potent and provide more therapeutic benefits. More info at Seed to Seal.
  2. Oils from the health food store are aroma-grade oils and may smell good, but they do not offer the same therapeutic benefits because most of them contain less than 5% pure essential oil. YL oils are 100% pure with nothing ever added, or taken away.
  3. Many essential oils have expiration dates, YL oils do not. Properly stored 100% pure essential oils (excluding citrus) won't ever go bad and will last indefinitely. If an essential oil has an expiration date, it isn't pure or has been cut with a carrier oil which will eventually go rancid.
  4. 4. Only 2% of essential oils sold in North America are suitable for medicinal/therapeutic purposes, and Young Living makes 98% of them! Young Living meets all industry AFNOR and ISO standards and are subjected to isotopic ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) analysis, which determines whether a particular oil is naturally sourced or synthetic (created in a lab).
  5. I saved the BEST FOR LAST: The Wellness Academy. This is a fabulous private Facebook group for people who use, or are curious about using YL oils. Great information - tips and tricks, recipes/etc. Come join us!