Essential oils are naturally occurring compounds that are extracted from plants. They have a variety of therapeutic benefits depending on what plant they are taken from and can be used in different treatments as a botanical medicine. These oils are commonly used in a variety of products including soaps, lotions, lip balms, ointments and salves. Essential oils typically come in a small, dark, glass bottle with a dropper for easy distribution. The oil is very strong so it usually requires only a small amount. Most essential oils should only be used topically or externally because certain ones can be toxic if too much is taken internally. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional before beginning any treatment with essential oils.
Top 5 Essential Oils
1. Oregano Oil
2. Lavender Oil
3. Tea Tree Oil
4. Eucalyptus Oil
5. Peppermint Oil
Oregano oil is one of my favourite essential oils because it has many therapeutic uses. It can be used internally to ward off a cold or flu you may feel coming on. It can also be used externally on a cut, scratch or even an ingrown toenail. Oregano oil is highly antimicrobial and is also useful in soaps. It is important to note that oregano oil should not be used daily for the prevention of colds or flus as too much can be toxic and should only be taken for short periods of time and as directed by a Naturopathic physician.
Lavender oil is one that I’m sure many people have heard of before and is associated with relaxation through its use in aromatherapy. This can be true and I use it for this, but there are other benefits. It can be used in combination with oregano and tea tree oil as an antiseptic to prevent or treat infections topically. It is also the main ingredient in the natural soap we use in our home. It has a great scent and I believe it definitely can be used as aromatherapy for reducing stress and anxiety and helping with sleep.
Tea tree oil is great, but for topical use only for preventing or treating any type of infection, especially fungal infections. It can be diluted in water and dabbed on a pimple or put onto a cut as an antiseptic. It’s an excellent dandruff treatment and can be found in some natural shampoos. It can be beneficial to athlete’s foot and can be put into a foot bath. (The whole or part of the foot affected should be isolated in the foot bath to prevent the infection from spreading.) It is important to caution that it should always be diluted in water before use just to prevent any skin reactions as it is a very strong essential oil.
Eucalyptus oil is a must for getting rid of congestion resulting from a cold. A few drops can be added to a large bowl of boiling water which should be placed on a kitchen table. (Be careful not to fill the bowl too much as you do not want to burn your skin with the water.) You then lean over the bowl with your eyes closed and put a towel over your head to keep the steam in. Breathe in slowly and deeply for about 10-15 minutes taking breaks as needed. Your congestion should be improved and your chest should not feel as tight. This not only helps with congestion, but is also antimicrobial so helps to fight the infection. Eucalyptus oil is found in Vick’s VapoRub which is commonly used topically on the chest for colds. Eucalyptus oil has also been added to natural bug sprays along with other essential oils to keep you bug free.
Peppermint oil is very soothing and is a vital treatment for tension headaches or migraines. For headaches, put approximately 5 drops in a bowl of warm or cold water and mix it around. Use a cloth and apply to temples, forehead and/or neck for at least 15 minutes. This will help reduce the intensity of the headache. Of course other naturopathic treatments should be added for a greater outcome. For a calming effect after a stressful day put 1 drop in a bowl and breathe in the scent for relief. Encapsulated peppermint oil can be used internally for many different digestive concerns including irritable bowel syndrome. It is anti-spasmodic and helps with digestive cramping.