How To Use Essential Oils

by Ana Palles

Essential Oil & Flower Essence Our shamanic training included several week long wilderness experiences and vision quests. Each gathering – without fail – several people in the program would end up needing some sort of first aid solution. From insect bites and blisters, allergic reactions, or sprains and migraines, the group provided plenty of challenges for our camp leaders.

What I found fascinating is that instead of working with a typical first aid kit, the Shamanic teachers had kits supplemented with a variety of therapeutic grade essential oils. I saw them handle each problem by pulling out one of the well used bottles of essential oils and asking the person to rub on different parts of their body, or simply sit and inhale the scent while briskly rubbing their palms. I saw such profound effects on my fellow students that I had to learn more.

Essential oils are used broadly in complementary medicine self care strategies. It is in fact one of the most available medical self care tools you can use and has been increasing in popularity across hospitals. For example, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation recently partnered with YoungLiving essential oils and others in order to bring an integrative care pilot program into being.

There are three major ways to use essential oils:

  1. Inhalation (Aromatherapy) 
  2. Topical Application
  3. By mouth (check to make sure the oil can be taken internally)

Aromatherapy has long been known to provide healing benefits. We know that the smell of peppermint oil is very effective for nausea, oils such as lavender and bergamot are shown to support relaxation, and eucalyptus and tea tree oil are being used in fighting antibiotic resistant bacteria and funguses.

The essential oil of clove has been available as an over the counter remedy for toothaches for many years and is still used in dental offices today. And essential oils are used in topical ointments to alleviate muscle pain and strain.

Essential oils have been part of healing apothecary for thousands of years, considered precious and mentioned throughout the bible for healing and anointing. Oils are used in a variety of ways. 

When I make a cup of peppermint or chamomile tea by pouring my steaming water over the leaves or flower buds in my cup, I am extracting some of the essential oil from the plant in making my tea. I can also just put a few drops of peppermint oil in my cup and dilute with about a half a cup of liquid such as water or milk.

Perhaps the easiest way of all to use an essential oil is by smelling it. We can place a few drops of the oil in our palms, rub our hands briskly together, and take a deep breath. This lets us take in the healing scent of our favorite essential oil or blend.

Inhalation of the essential oils, because of their various chemical components, works on the person almost immediately. It has been shown to activate different areas of the brain and depending on the oil, triggering relaxation, alertness, and reducing anxiety.

The popular smelling salts of Victorian days – still used by medical professionals today – are effective in rousing a person and bringing them back to a more centered state.

I make my own smelling salts by placing about a tablespoon of sea salt into a tiny jar with a screw on lid. I then add several drops of my favorite essential oil, usually peppermint or rosemary. I then blend them simply by shaking. I love the smell of both the salt and the oil and find it very restorative when I am mentally fatigued or overwhelmed, such as when I am attending a crowded event.

I have known cancer patients that keep a small bottle of peppermint oil in their bags that they smell when feeling nauseous or tired. They tell me it makes a big difference for them.

Lastly, I find essential oils very effective for releasing various obstacles and life burdens. Sometimes these obstacles have been with us for so long that our bodies forget how release feels. Like a clenched muscle that cannot let go, the emotional or spiritual burden begins to take on physical mass and weight.

In situations like these, I find essential oils are powerful allies. I often use the Young Living Release blend on different parts of the body and see a fast release. When it is a particularly difficult situation, I put Young Living Valor Essential Oil on the palms and soles of the feet. This combination brings about a sense of peace with strength.

Remember that placing a drop of oil on your wrist before applying to your body is a good idea to test for allergies. And like anything else, make sure of the quality of the oil you are using. There are a lot of synthetic oils, and perfume oils whose packaging resembles true essential oils. Do your research, read the label and know what you are using so that you can get the benefits you are seeking.

I really enjoy working with my essential oils and I hope you are inspired to work with aromatherapy.