Diluting Essential Oils for Safety

With all the talk of essential oils – and my recent flurry of posts about using them – it is REALLY important to understand just how strong essential oils are when they remain undiluted.  Essential Oils are oftentimes part of the plant’s natural defense system.  In production of essential oils for consumers, the oils are extracted from the plants in a variety of ways, and become concentrated in the process.  These concentrated substances contain chemical compounds with a huge range of benefits, including antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and other healing actions.  BECAUSE THEY ARE SO CONCENTRATED, it is necessary to dilute them according to their chemical makeup in order to obtain the best benefit without causing harm.

Would you use bleach – undiluted – ever?  

When I began using oils, I NEVER diluted them because I didn’t know ANYTHING about dilution.  IN my case, I am very thankful that I began with Lavender as it is not one of the “hot” oils which can cause burning and tingling, and even lead to permanent damage if used incorrectly.  Few oils can be applied “neat” – or undiluted – and for even the most gentle of oils dilution is recommended.  Also of note, it IS quite possible to be allergic to an essential oil because of a related allergy to the source plant.  “Natural” does not rule out allergies.

When it comes to blending and diluting essential oils, there are certain aspects of it that I really need to refer to more experts to get my information.  I can read and study books and website, but I don’t have a certification in aromatherapy or a degree in biology or natural sciences, so I continue to look for direction from those who have taken their education to another level.  Lea Harris, one of my primary resources, is clinically certified in aromatherapy.  She has learned about the scientific makeup of essential oils, the constituents contained within the oils, and how and why they can be used for specific complaints.

One of her quotes is

We dilute essential oils before applying to the skin to minimize adverse reactions

and systemic toxicity

I like that she is completely passionate about the benefits of essential oils, and realistic about allergies and adverse reactions, and always takes a cautionary stance when discussing dilution rates.  I find her to be both encouraging to essential oil users and very keen on providing excellent, accurate information about the use of essential oils, hydrosols, tinctures, and other herb-related products.

What to dilute with?

There are several carrier oils which I have tried and some work best in different applications.  The mildest (in  my opinion) has been Sweet Almond oil and I love to use it on my kids.  It has little to no scent and is quickly absorbed.  Fractionated Coconut oil is probably my most commonly used oil, but I even like to dilute this half and half with sweet almond whenever I can.  I have also tried this Hemp Seed Oil.  This was a surprising oil, but I bought it for specific application – joint pain – as it has its own intrinsic properties that help relieve joint discomfort (it is green-tinged and quite greasy, but lovely to use in my joint/inflammation blends).  I am currently using Argan oil from Grove Collaborative for a night-time facial application and am LOVING IT!!!

When Curly had pneumonia in December last year, we tried a few oils, but I kept skirting around eucalyptus.  Eucalyptus is a very strong oil, and I have held off on using it regularly, despite its renowned respiratory effects.  When Curly was so sick, I decided to venture into using some Eucalyptus with Lavender and Sweet Orange, dropped into some epsom salts and used in a steam shower to help with her breathing.  After the first use, Curly said she felt so much better and she finally slept – HARD – for the first time in days.  I have to say that she had been using an antibiotic, nebulizer breathing treatments and some OTC decongestants for several days already which did give her some relief.  But it wasn’t until I used the oil blend WITH eucalyptus that SHE said she felt so much better, and we used it as a chest rub in coconut oil as well and she was really happy about it!

FYI – some essential oils should NOT be used for children.  Ever. We know there are medications children should never take.  And we should be very cautious in just slathering oils on our kids just because we read about it somewhere on Facebook.  {Remember when aspirin was okay to give to kids?  I remember taking that orange flavored tab as a kid – but NOW it is taboo because studies have shown a link between using aspirin and developing other health issues.}

If you want safe guidelines for diluting essential oils for yourself and your family, I HIGHLY recommend visiting Lea Harris’ site Using Essential Oils Safely (www.usingeossafely.com).  The  nice thing is – she has done the math and calculated proper dosing information, and provides a lot of information about blending oils as well.  One thing she touches on regularly is creating “Master Blends” of oils that can then be diluted for application in rollerballs.  I haven’t done this yet, but for a few of my go-to oils, I might need to do so!!!

Do you have a favorite carrier oil that you use to dilute your oils with?  Do you have any questions about essential oils or diluting them for application?

Essential Oils for Anxiety and Stress

There are essential oils that can make a really bad day much better.  Essential oils for anxiety and stress have a huge place in my collection of oils.  Between Anxiety, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder in our family, we have a lot of different symptoms that find some relief with use of essential oils.  Sometimes significant relief!

I have a friend who finds that many of the oils that work well for our family – do NOT work for her family with the same diagnoses or symptoms.  This is why a DISCLAIMER is necessary (see the end of my post) because different people react to different oils in very different ways!

Some of these oils are listed in my Essential Oils for Sleep post, but depending on what issues you want to assist, there may be other oils listed which you might find helpful for your use.

Vetiver – attention, focus, racing thoughts

Cedarwood – insomnia, grounding and calming

Lavender – soothing, relaxing, and great in blends

Frankincense – this is one of my GO TO oils for so many things, I had to include it here.  It calms my agitated daughter when nothing else will.  It balances me when I’m feeling moody.  It has been used for centuries in meditation and spiritual practice.  And frankly, it smells delightful… (pun intended)

Ylang ylang – mmmm such a floral wonder.  I usually only add 1 or 2 drops to a whole rollerball because it has such a powerful scent.  Reminds me of the beautiful flower leis my parents brought me back from Hawaii…

Bergamot – a lovely oil with a hint of lemony goodness.  It is the from the same fruit used to add flavor to Earl Grey tea, and it has a softer smell than lemon itself.  This is a photosensitive oil, so you should not go outside within 30 minutes of topical application.

doTerra Balance – this is a preblended mix of oils by doTerra.  Because we don’t know the specific amounts of each oil used in the blend, diluting safely can be tricky.  I tend to go the “less is more” route where my kids are concerned, especially, but I have a rollerball of this in my little bag of oils at ALL times.  It has a very lovely scent – one of my favorites!

doTerra Serenity – this is an oil blend that my friend Shelly gave me to use during my niece’s funeral and the family time surrounding that week.  It has a softly sweet smell and I have used it as perfume, and well diluted as a face serum.  It absolutely helps me settle and RELAX so much better than say, lavender alone.  I will open a bottle of this in the car when the kids are super cranky and put it on myself and the airflow in the ar distributes it to everyone!

Remember that different people can react to different oils in different ways.  While lavender alone can help one of my kids settle almost immediately, a blend of cedarwood-lavender-and-frankincense works better for another one of my kids, and doTerra’s Balance is an oil that helps my third whenever she is too tightly wound.

Diluted topical application is NOT the only use for essential oils.  Diffusing essential oils provides an aromatherapeutic benefit that may be different from topical application.  We have found that diffusing dT Balance for 30 minutes in our family room helps everybody feel more grounded and, well, balanced!

Do you use essential oils for stress relief?  What’s your favorite?  Which oil do you think you would try first?

Essential Oils For When You Can’t Sleep

One of my biggest problems since having kids is regulating my sleep.  Between my all-night sleeper, my never-at-night-sleeper, and the-child-who-won’t-leave-our-bed sleeper – I have not had very many good nights of rest for many years.

As our kids have grown, their sleep patterns have almost flipped.  One of our kids is on medication to help her sleep.  Otherwise, she will be up all night, waking me up because she is bored. Or scared. Or hungry.

We have sleep walkers and sleep talkers.  We have bed wetters and middle of the night eaters.  And there are the occasional night terrors.

Yep – it has been exhausting.

When I discovered that lavender essential oil has a calming and sedative effect, I was happy.  I did notice that it helped calm me down when I used it for my nasty bout of poison ivy.  I also noticed it had a calming effect on my kids.

Lavender sachets – filled with dried lavender buds and leaves – have been used for centuries.  So the idea that the essential oil might be used for the same benefits was not completely out of the realm of the imagination..

Indeed, lavender is often recommended to help calm and settle people, especially at bedtime.  But I have read many comments by people who have said it has the OPPOSITE effect on them.  So, yeah – that is also not out of the realm of possibility.

I noticed after using lavender over a period of months that it did not seem to have the same effect of helping my kids or I fall asleep faster, so I started looking for some other options and found a few oils that were new to me.  (I was also looking for oils to help with ADHD symptoms in my kids, and funnily enough, these were the same oils to help settle for bedtime)

So here are a few oils I have found to be beneficial for helping settle me (or my little rascals) to sleep:

  • Cedarwood – because of it’s woody scent, this is a great oil to mix with other scents to make it more kid-friendly.  It blends especially well with sweet orange and lavender diluted in a rollerball!
  • Vetiver – research suggests this oil particularly works for ADHD, and is especially good for “racing thoughts” so if anxiety is playing a part in keeping you awake, this might be an oil for you.  I add this to every one of my sleep blends.
  • Ylang ylang – this smells just like I imagine a tropical flower to smell!  It can easily overpower the scents of other oils, so be sure to sniff gently and remember that less is more!

You can read more about essential oils for sleep at the following links:

8 Essential Oils for Sleep – by The Prairie Homestead

Essential Oils for Sleep – by Lea at Using EOs Safely

Sleep Tips – by Mommypotamus (not just about EOs)

One of the important things to remember about essential oils is that The Nose Knows!  There are some scents that may be so offensive to your nose that you cannot use them, regardless of their reported benefits.  If you apply an oil to help you sleep and then cannot sleep because it is an odor you can’t stand – you might need to make some adjustments to using it.  Vetiver was an oil I really had to get used to, and I found that blending it with other oils really made it more tolerable, and then I could reap the benefits without gagging over the smell…

Above all – if you don’t have a rollerball and aren’t sure about applying any essential oils to your body, get yourself a cotton ball – a good one, not one of those fakey synthetic cosmetic balls – and apply 1-2 drops of your chosen oils to the cotton ball.  Allow it to dry for a little bit and then seal it inside a plastic baggie. You can use it as a mini-inhaler for several days and refresh it every couple of weeks.

NOTE: some essential oils can melt plastic, so allow the oil to dry somewhat on the cotton ball before sealing it in a plastic bag…

Would you consider using essential oils to help you sleep?  Have you ever tried any essential oils for sleep?  Which oils worked for you?

 

Essential Oil Brands I Use

When I first started using essential oils, it was in response to a desperate need to find relief from a terrible case of poison ivy.  I had NEVER had poison ivy before, so by the time I realized that the spreading rash with blisters and weird patterns was poison ivy – it had been an entire week!

At this point, I was losing sleep because of the itching and burning.  I could NOT get relief.  So to Google I turned.  We did find some poison ivy soap and a lotion, but it was a very temporary help, so I knew I needed something more.  As I researched more, I ran across some articles about using essential oils, and because I was excited to find something naturally-derived, I went off to my local health food/natural food store.  I was limited to what was on hand, and frankly, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I found a bottle of Lavender oil and bought it.  I had decided that if the essential oil didn’t work, I was going to the doctor.

I cannot even express to you what a miracle it was to find such immediate and long-lasting relief.  I almost cried because it was an almost instant sense of relief.  And it lasted for more than 20 minutes.  And the bonus effect was that I felt calmer – another benefit of using lavender.

I did NOT know about diluting essential oils or just how powerful an EO can be.  As I have learned more about EO’s I was relieved to learn that lavender tends to be one of the more gentle oils and using it directly without dilution on myself (as an adult) was not as risky as using some others undiluted.

Since then, because I dug into more info about EO’s, I expanded my collection and learned more and more about the benefits of using EOs.  I had a friend who introduced me to some new EOs because we had a terrible bout of flu one December – and she stocked me up with a diffuser and some oils for the illness that kept jumping from one family member to another.  THAT sealed the deal for my use of EO’s on a regular basis.

I cannot tell you which oils are best for you to use.  Frankly, I have discovered that the same oil in different brands can smell and behave very differently.  I learned that the latin (or scientific) name can tell you more about the specific oil in the bottle than just the name on the label…  But that will be for another post.

Here are the oils in my current collection

doTerra

NOW

Eden’s Garden

Plant Therapy

Rocky Mountain Oils

I have not linked to doTerra but can connect you with someone who can share more information about doTerra if you are interested!  I use several doTerra blends that I use on an almost daily basis so I do highly recommend you consider them.

I have a couple of NOW brand oils – and it was the lavender oil I purchased first.  It is not my first choice, but I will not eliminate it from my list or collection.

Eden’s Garden is probably my favorite brand, and they have really increased the variety of oils available and work with a certified aromatherapist whom I follow on Facebook.  I have been pleased with EVERY oil I puchased from Eden’s Garden and typically check their website first when I need to purchase an oil.  I love their descriptions and suggested uses, as well as the fact that they offer discounts by ordering a “set” of 2, 6, 12, or more.  It’s a GREAT way to order a number of oils at a discount from what I have found to be a reputable source.  I noticed that the last time I was on their website, they are going to be offering Hydrosols (which is something I will write about later, too!)

Plant Therapy is a pretty popular brand according to the EO groups I am a member of on Facebook.  I have a few of their oils and am satisfied with my purchases and use in my personal recipes.

Rocky Mountain Oils was a pleasant surprise!  I won a kit from another blog, and was THRILLED because it contained Helichrysum –  a rather pricey oil because it is hard to come by.  Helichrysum is related to melaleuca, and has some incredible healing properties.  It smells better (in my opinion) than melaleuca and my kids seem to tolerate that better.

There are MANY other oil brands and companies out there – I have not tried them all and do not intend to at this point.  But if you are new to oils, one of the first questions you might have is where to buy oils – and I have found these brands to be fairly well priced, providing reputable products across the board.

My Essential Oil Cupboard

Please read the disclaimer at the top of the right hand sidebar as I am not a medical professional and will not provide medical advice or diagnosis.

I decided to show you some pictures and take you on a short tour of my own personal Essential Oil Cupboard.  Because safety is so important, I keep my essential oils stored in an out-of-reach cabinet in my kitchen.  It is both more difficult for my kids to get into them, and close at hand for my blending purposes, and it is a sort of dark corner that does not get direct light (which is also important for safe storage).

Here is where I keep them:

I store my 2 baskets nestled between stock pots that I don’t use all the time, but need to keep on hand for chili or soup or boiling chicken.  When I started with essential oils, I had one bottle of Lavender oil (this is my Amazon affiliate link, and I had great success using this particular brand).  Because I grew up knowing about alternative remedies, it wasn’t a big leap for me to start digging into more info about essential oils, and it grew into something over the past 4 years that looks more like this:

The white basket is my primary basket of oils.

The black basket contains 2nd bottles, samples, sprays, and a kit of oils (the green bag) I won from another blog (ACK!!!)

I have a small cosmetic bag I carry with me as my Go-To Kit, as well.  I have created my own blends of rollerball recipes, used others’ rollerball recipes, and diluted some oils for use that I like to keep at hand.  We have regular issues with digestion, joint pain, and nerves/anxiety – so these rollerballs are what I use most often.

I did start learning about oils in conjunction with an MLM company.  I will NOT knock any of the MLM companies I am familiar with.  I don’t always agree with the instructions given by sales consultants, because I have done my own personal research that tells me otherwise.  But I won’t disparage anyone other than to say I RARELY INGEST ANY OILS. (There are safer alternatives for ingestion which I will write about in some future post).

My decision to NOT regularly ingest oils is based purely on a variety of articles and posts I have read over time, as well as personal experience with essential oils use.

My primary applications for essential oil use are Topical application and Diffusion (aromatherapy).  Again, after reading extensive articles and interviews, I determined these methods to be most effective and utilize them most often for my family.  In my humble opinion, you should determine your own personal use, but be aware that essential oils are powerful substances and you should rely on both caution and self-education to use them well.

Do you have a collection of essential oils?  How do you store your oils?

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. – I will talk about my specific brands of oils next week.  I just need some time to get all my info together so it is an article that you can reference if you would like!