The lowdown on Essential Oils & how they can help your family

Essential Oils can be used aromatically, topically, or by ingestion.
Essential Oils can be used aromatically, topically, or by ingestion. Getty Images/iStockphoto

All about essential oils.

Chances are, you’ve heard mention of these natural solutions that are gaining popularity. But the reality is that they’ve been around for thousands of years, and offer natural solutions to so many different ailments. Read below to find out answers to some of the most common questions regarding.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are liquids that are extracted from the leaves, stems, roots, bark, or other parts of plants. They are generally distilled by steam or water and contain characteristic fragrances and properties of the plant from which they come from.

Essential oils date back to the Ancient Romans and Grecians, who used them to heal wounds. They were also used by Egyptians in medical practice and for beauty purposes. In the 1920’s, French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was burned in an accident in his lab, and used Lavender to eliminate infection and prevent scarring.

Flash forward to today, and people are discovering the therapeutic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti fungal properties of the oils that have provided holistic and medicinal properties for centuries.

So are they really oily?

Contrary to popular belief, based on the name, they really do not feel oily. They actually have a smooth feel to them. And in most cases, you aren’t using a great quantity of the oils, either. If you have a good quality, concentrated oil, adults will use 2-4 drops at a time and kids 1-2.

How do I use essential oils?

Essential oils can be used in three ways:

1. Aromatically. Apply a drop or two of the oil of choice onto your hands to enjoy the aroma, or use in a diffuser to share the scent in the room. You can also place a few drops on a cotton ball, washcloth or tissue and allow it to evaporate into the air.

2. Topically. Essential oils can be massaged onto the skin, mixed with a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, etc.) and massaged onto the skin, used in a bath, or in a spray.

3. Ingesting. This third method is somewhat controversial, meaning some suggest that ingesting essential oils is safe, and others feel that a great deal of knowledge on the oils should be had before doing so.

Are they safe for kids?

Yes - most oils are. However, because children are smaller, they don’t need as much. When you use a high quality oil, it’s recommended that you always dilute them using a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.) In addition, when applying essential oils topically to children, a good place to apply them is on their feet; follow up with putting socks on them so that they can’t get them on their hands and rub them in their eyes.

What are some general ways that moms use essential oils?

There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to use essential oils. Seriously; it’s mind-boggling how many solutions there are to be found - naturally. Here are some of the many:

- bug repellant

- produce spray (cleaner)

- germ fighter

- allergy assistance

- anti-inflammatory

- kitchen cleaner

- relaxer/anti-anxiety

- trash can deodorizer

- laundry refresher

- headache helper

- skin support

- tummy tamer

- focus

Are there any safety concerns?

Absolutely. It is suggested to do patch testing - use one drop of an essential oil on your forearm and wait 24-48 hours to see if you have any reactions. In addition, some oils, particularly citrus oils, can cause phytotoxicity. Always use safety when trying a new oil on yourself, or anyone in your family.

With proper usage, essential oils can provide a wonderful, natural alternative.

Research each oil or talk with someone who is knowledgeable on essential oils before using them for the best experience.

Kiran Dodeja Smith is the mother of 4 kids under 12. A self-proclaimed health nut, she is most often found in her kitchen, preparing home-cooked foods. She is also a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA essential oils and can be reached at