Essential oils have been used to cure illness and protect cuts for hundreds of years. Many of the properties have been studied to create modern medicine we have today. However, modern medicine has been created for a reason. I personally feel that essential oils cannot replace the tools and medicines we have. Additionally, it seems concerning that essential oils have claims that they are a “cure-all.” I would be wary of information that makes over generalized claims. Even with this being the case, understanding how these original medicines work and can enrich your everyday life, will only add value to your family’s routines.
I use to think that essential oils were a scam. I could not see how these could provide any health benefits. However, after applying some Tea Tree Oil to a yeast infection, it cleared up! I only used it twice so I figured it must be some potent oil. That’s when I started looking into other uses and benefits.
There are several reasons why I choose to have essential oils in my first aid kits, in addition to modern medicines:
- They are easier to find because you do not need a prescription for them.
- They may last for several years (longer than many over the counter medicines).
- It’s nice to try to heal something at home first. Not only does trying home remedies first save money and time, they may actually be easier on your body.
- They have dual purposes and often can help many different aliments, rather than just one function.
- They also work as house hold cleaners.
Let’s do a quick vocabulary review:
Antimicrobial: When something is considered antimicrobial, it is considered to protect against microorganism growth or kill microorganisms. A microbe is a general term for a small cell.
Antibiotic: Something this antibiotic, it means that it protects against bacteria growing or can kill bacteria that has already grown. A common example of bacteria infection would be staph.
Anti fungal: This means that it would kill or prevent fungi from growing. Common examples of fungi would be athlete’s foot or a wart.
Anti viral: A virus is type of organism that can make us sick. Examples of these are chickenpox, the common flu, and HIV/AIDS.
*The differences between these three things are significant if you are a scientist. For the average “Joe,” just remember that these things can make you sick or give you pain. Less than one percent of bacteria actually can harm humans, but you still don’t want the bad kind around.
Anti Inflammatory: When your body is hurt or sick, it sends in blood cells to try and fix it. Inflammation is just swelling in the infected areas of your body from the cells rushing to that area.
How to Use Essential Oils to Treat
There are a million different ways to use essential oils, and there are literally hundreds of mixes, recipes, brands, and websites that will tell you how use them. In fact, if you’re reading this, you probably already know about many of these options. I want to give you the quick list. After much research, these are the oils and recipes I would stock up on. Check the bottom of the page for my favorite websites.
Here is my list of oils and their most important properties:
- Tea Tree (Melaleuca) – anti bacterial, anti viral, anti fungal
- Lavender – anti bacterial, anti viral, anti fungal, anti-itch, pain reliever, stress reducer
- Peppermint – muscle relaxer, can help allergies, ease nausea, prevents small insects
- German or Roman Chamomile – anti inflammatory, pain reliever (supposedly this oil is gentle enough to use on children
- Rosemary – This oil has conflicting uses. Brings clarity and reduces stress. Relaxes muscles.
- Eucalyptus or Aloe Vera – relief of pain, anti inflammation, heals burns
- Oregano (or Thyme but it is more concentrated) – anti bacterial, removes warts, anti-fungal
- Cinnamon (but also just ingesting regular cinnamon powder gives you tons of health benefits) – anti bacterial, anti viral,
- Frankincense – reduce inflammation, increase healing, makes other oils more effective
Uses for oils and recipes:
Note: These recipes are not to replace modern medicine or visiting a doctor for diagnosis. These are only meant for minor aliments or in emergency situations. Oils that have similar uses can be interchanged.
Burn Relief: After removing the heat through cold water or ice (they say don’t use ice anymore, but ice saved my mother’s hand after it was dipped in a deep fryer! She doesn’t have any scars), place one or two drops of the oil onto the burn area. Use as added needed until the burn is gone. Do not use more than 3 times a day.
Bad Breath and Teeth Health: Peppermint oil is a great alternative to mouth wash, however I would still store some mouth wash with fluoride. Two tablespoons of baking soda, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 2 drops of peppermint oil can be used as a toothpaste.
Flu: While there is not an actual “cure,” for the flu and many viruses, rubbing peppermint or frankincense on the bottom of your feet can help decrease the length of illness.
Scrapes, muscle pains, and bruises: Taking a bath with Epsom salts and a few lavender oil helps reduce pains and swelling. For a small cut, clean with soap and then place a drop of lavender oil and Tea Tree oil to heal it. The Tea Tree oil will help keep the infections away. Do NOT put lavender on a deep puncture wound. Again, you should always go to a doctor, but if you are in a dire situation, lavender will heal the surface skin before the inner heals.
Common Cold: Eucalyptus oil can relieve congestion in the sinuses and lungs. A mix of 2 drops Eucalyptus and 1 drop of rosemary, applied to your chest and throat can help reduce congestion. Drinking honey and lemon oil (or cinnamon oil) helps fight the bacteria and viruses in your throat. Frankincense oil can help increase healing.
Cold Sores: One drop of tea tree, twice daily, can help stop the virus from spreading.
Anxiety: Many of the oils can help you relax through a diffuser, or dabbing a little oil on your throat, chest, or feet.
Athlete’s foot, Nail fungus, Warts: Oregano is a great oil to apply to the infected area. You may consider dropping some oil on a Q-tip, and then spreading it on the area.
Shelf life of Essential of Oils
Oils do not last forever, but I have found varied reports on how long they last on the shelf. What I can say is that oils last longer if they are in glass and in a dark bottle. Typically they last 1-2 years.
If your oil is cloudy, smells different, or has become thick, do not use any more.
Consider dating your oils if you are purchasing large quantities.
Find Quality Essential Oils
Many companies claim they have a high “purity” that let’s them last longer, but this is also questionable since there is not a reliable “oil checker” out there. Essential oils are not regulated like other drugs from the FDA, and there is not an actually grading scale for oils. Many companies claim to be therapeutic grade, but that scale is not actually rated by anyone. Especially when oils are sold as a cosmetic and not a drug, they have different guidelines.
There is a process of testing the oil called Gas Chromatography (GC), but I would only test it from a third party organization. You plan to eat the oil, you may to make sure there is not a bunch of extra fillers in oil. This is not as critical if you plan to clean with the oil.
You may want to make sure you are getting the exact oil; there are often different types of each oil. Unfortunately the best way to do that is the check the latin name. Comparing costs to other companies can also help determine if the oil is pure or not. If it’s too cheap to be true… it probably is not true.
There is a fabulous blog about the different oil companies. She has already done a lot of research on different essential oil companies.
Sources for recipes and uses:
Sources for other information: