How to Use Essential Oils: DIY Home Aromatherapy for B
Piper Simmons, age 10, and her mother, physical therapist Deborah Jurist Simmons, are awash in aromatic bath bombs they’re making (from this DoTerra recipe).
“I love the smells,” says Piper, of the essential oils they use to give the “fizzies” their different scents. “They make you happy when you’re taking a bath.”
The use of essential oils, commonly known as aromatherapy, is defined by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy as the use of naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants for physical and emotional well-being. You can use essential oils in your bath or shower, in massage oils, lotions, soaps, inhalers, and diffusers. They can be used for a variety of reasons, from managing anxiety to easing muscle aches to curing poison ivy.
“Using essential oils is a step toward a healthier life,” says Maryland-based aromatherapist Rose Chard. While essential oils can be purchased through online sites, retail pharmacies, grocery stores, and health food stores, Chard recommends first-time users see a professional aromatherapist. You can find a certified aromatherapist in your area on the NAHA website.
Chard explains that a professional aromatherapist has been trained in the use of a blend of oils for specific conditions and can instruct you in what you need, how much you need, and how best to use the oils. For topical use, for example, essential oils should be added to a base (or “carrier”) such as almond or olive oil to avoid skin irritation.
Among the most commonly used essential oils are clary sage, recommended for relaxation; eucalyptus as a decongestant; lemon to relieve stress; and peppermint to ease nausea.
Writer Jennifer Billock Young began using essential oils as a more natural way to manage common ailments such as headaches (she massages a few drops of peppermint oil on her temples) and colds (several drops of tea tree oil rubbed on her chest clears up her congestion).
She is primarily self-taught, and hasn’t read much about the scientific validity of essential oils. “For now, I’m deciding through experience if it works for me,” she says.
If this time of year has left you feeling particularly stressed and short of sleep, Chard suggests lavender oil may help. One study shows lavender to be an effective natural remedy in promoting restful sleep, reducing anxiety and even easing postoperative pain. Chard recommends placing a blend of four drops each of lavender, clary sage, and marjoram oils in a room diffuser 20 minutes before bedtime.
Chard notes that aromatherapy is meant to support your existing forms of health care, not replace them. A professional aromatherapist should not recommend using essential oils instead of traditional medicine. Those with medical conditions, such as asthma, should see a healthcare provider before getting started, as essential oil therapy is not advised for everyone.
Chard’s Recipe for Spice Massage Oil:
Into a 4-ounce amber glass bottle (available at craft stores, online aromatherapy sites, and health food stores), add these essential oils:
- 8 drops peppermint
- 8 drops clove
- 15 drops lavender
- 8 drops vetiver
Pour in 3.5 ounces of safflower, sweet almond, or grapeseed oil to dilute the essential oil.
While you enjoy your essential oils, try this other natural 4-7-8 breathing solution to help you sleep better.