Essential Oils Series- The Basics (1)

***The following information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not be substituted for expert opinion.

There has been a lot of hype in recent years about essential oils (EOs), the sheer abundance of information out there is quite overwhelming. Essential oils were the first medicines used by mankind. From Egypt to China, EO's have been used used for thousands of years. We have used EOs in our home for years and have eliminated most over-the-counter (OTC) medications from our medicine cabinet. Over the course of this year, I would like to offer some basic insight into the world of EOs, starting with The Basics, followed by a spotlight of the most often used oils at Finny Farm. (**Note: Much of our information comes from the very thorough, nicely explained, and well-researched "Reference Guide for Essential Oils" by Connie and Alan Higley).


1) Regulations

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates drugs, that is any product that makes direct claims to treating or curing and ailment. In order for an EO manufacturer or distributor to make such claims, there needs to be substantial evidence, rigorous random controlled trials, etc. Basically all the steps that a drug company must go through to have a drug approved on the market. Hence, it is difficult to give you a full picture of what all a particular oil can "do" or be used for. I will do the best I can to display benefits of particular oils while remaining compliant.

2) Quality:

This is a tricky topic. Because EOs are only loosely regulated, not all are created equal. in order to be labeled "100% Essential Oil," an EO must only contain a fraction of EO, while the rest of the bottle is filler (and possibly something you don't want to put on or in your body). So how do you decipher what a high quality oil is? A rule of thumb: if an oil is labeled as "fragrance" or "perfume" it is likely not pure. If an EO is labeled "not safe for ingestion" it is likely not pure. Where you can, independent lab studies can help (but these are difficult to find). One company I have come across actually offers chromatography results for every single batch of EO they manufacture... from an independent lab.

3) Application:

EOs can be used in 3 ways- topical, ingestion, and aromatherapy. Topical can be done either "neat" (undiluted) or diluted in a carrier oil more on these next). EO's can be applied pretty much anywhere on the body (except eyes and in ears), but the best places are typically vitaflex points on hands and feet, and along the spine. To ingest EOs, you can put them in an empty capsule (buy here), or swallow them directly on a spoon with honey or a carrier oil. Be careful here as some EO's are quite hot/spicy and can burn your mucosa. There are several options for aromatherapy. You can diffuse EOs with a home diffuser or cool mist vaporizer, or via a piece of aromatherapy jewelry, or by putting drops on a pillow or in your dryer.

4) Carrier Oils:

A carrier oil is any oil that can be mixed with EOs for application. Popular choices are Sweet Almond, Olive, Coconut, or Apricot Kernel oils. Options are pretty much endless, depending on budget, allergies, and preference. I will include links to some of my favorites! Carrier oils are also important when you make your own blend in a glass roller bottle. (I usually fill my roller bottle half full with carrier oil and then add all the EOs that I want in that particular blend.)

5) Don'ts:

a) do not put EOs directly in your eyes or ears

b) do not use EOs neat on young children. EOs are very concentrated and potent and absolutely need to be diluted on children.

c) do not use EOs internally on young children.

d) do not use a lot of EO. Again, EOs are very potent and a little goes a long way.

e) do not use plastic or Styrofoam with any citrus EOs.

f) do not use citrus EOs in direct sunlight. These are photosensitive and can enhance the sun's burning rays.

g) do not purchase EOs from an unknown source. I won't tell you, which company to choose. I can tell you which I chose and why, but I won't do it here. What I'm saying is: do your research! Ask questions. Look for independent lab analyses.

When in doubt, dilute. When in doubt, don't ingest. When in doubt, keep out of the sun. When in doubt, put it in a glass container.