Main Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, An Introductory Guide: More Than 300 Recipes for Health, Home and...
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Copyright © 2014 by Sonoma Press, Berkeley, California No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Requests to the publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, Sonoma Press, 918 Parker St., Suite A-12, Berkeley, CA 94710. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. 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Photo credits: Masterfile, p.ii; Alena Haurylik/Shutterstock, p.vi; Hitdelight/Shutterstock, p.3; [no name]/Masterfile, p.4; photo division/Media Bakery, p.6; mountainpix/Shutterstock, p.11; Image Point Fr/Shutterstock, p.14; Lidante/Shutterstock, p.17; sai0112/Shutterstock, p.18; Anna Nemoy/Stocksy, p.27; Gts/Shutterstock, p.30 (left); Dream79/Shutterstock, p.30 (center); Petr Baumann/Shutterstock, p.30 (right); Serena Carminati/Shutterstock, p.35; Bernard Radvaner/Media Bakery, p.38; auremar/Shutterstock, p.47; Apollofoto/Shutterstock, p.48; stockcam/iStockphoto, p.51; Debu55y/Shutterstock, p.52; Melpomene/Shutterstock, p.54; Rhonda Adkins/Stocksy, p.57; ballycroy/iStockphoto, p.63; DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock, p.70; hsvrs/iStockphoto, p.77; shmel/iStockphoto, p.83; CGissemann/iStockphoto, p.91; zkruger/Shutterstock, p.96; mama_mia/Shutterstock, p.105; bhofack2/iStockphoto, p.112; Elenathewise/iStockphoto, p.121; Irina Shomova/Shutterstock, p.128; Kirsty Begg/Stocksy, p.137; lynea/Shutterstock, p.144; grafvision/Shutterstock, p.151; Liv friis-larsen/Shutterstock, p.156; jirkaejc/Veer, p.163; Sea Wave/Shutterstock, p.177; matka_Wariatka/Shutterstock, p.182; amphotora/iStockphoto, p.191; joannawnuk/Shutterstock, p.198; Anna Ewa Bieniek/Shutterstock, p.201; zoryanchik/Shutterstock, p.208; matka_Wariatka/Shutterstock, p.214; JPC-PROD/Shutterstock, p.220; Masterfile, p.228; Natalia Klenova/Shutterstock, p.235; HandmadePictures/Shutterstock, p. 0; Gita Kulinitch Studio/Shutterstock, p.247; barol16/iStockphoto, p.252; Serena Carminati/Shutterstock, p.261; unpict/Shutterstock, p.266; Ulrike Koeb/Stockfood, p.275; Christian Jung/Shutterstock, p.282; marylooo/Shutterstock, p.291; Elena Ray/Shutterstock, p.298; LazingBee/iStockphoto, p.305; Hitdelight/Shutterstock, p.310 ISBN: Print: 978-0-98955-869-3 | eBook: 978-1-942411-14-7 CONTENTS Introduction PART 1 Understanding Essential Oils Chapter One: Learn the Basics WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS? HOW ARE ESSENTIAL OILS MADE? ESSENTIAL OILS AND HEALING BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS WHAT IS AROMA THERAPY? TIPS FOR USING ESSENTIAL OILS THE SCIENCE OF SCENTS Chapter Two: Tools for Safe Healing SMART SHOPPING TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT COMMONLY AVAILABLE CARRIER OILS DANGEROUS AND DEADLY SAFETY CONCERNS SAFETY FOR BABIES, CHILDREN, AND PREGNANT MOTHERS PHOTOSENSITIZING OILS SAFETY FOR PETS Chapter Three: Master the Methods AROMATIC METHODS TOPICAL METHODS MIXING OILS FOR MASSAGE HOW TO MAKE A WARM COMPRESS PART 2 Nature’s Prescriptions Chapter Four: A World of Natural Wellness Acid Reflux Acne Age Spots Aging Skin Allergies (Seasonal) Anemia Anxiety Arthritis Asthma Athlete’s Foot Back Pain Bee Sting Black Toenail Blisters Blood Vessels (Broken) Body Odor Boils Bruises Bunions Calluses Cancer Cellulite Chafing Chapped Lips Chicken Pox Chicken Skin Colds Cold Sores Colic Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Constipation Corns Cough Cracked Heels Croup Cuts and Scrapes Dandruff Diabetes Diaper Rash Diarrhea Dry Skin Eczema Fatigue Fever Fibromyalgia Flatulence Flu Foot Odor Foot Pain Freckles Ganglion Cysts Gout Hair Loss Hangover Hay Fever Headache Hemorrhoids Hiccups Hives Hot Flashes Hypertension Indigestion Ingrown Toenail Insect Bites Insomnia Irritable Bowel Syndrome Jock Itch Joint Inflammation (Injury-Related) Leg Cramps Lice Menopause Symptoms Menstrual Cramps Metabolism (Slow) Migraine Moodiness Motion Sickness Muscle Aches Nausea Neck Stiffness Nosebleed Oily Skin Osteoporosis Perspiration (Excess) Poison Ivy Premenstrual Syndrome Prostatitis Psoriasis Restless Leg Syndrome Ringworm Sexual Dysfunction (Low Sex Drive) Sinus Pressure Skin Tags Sore Throat Spider Bite Spider Veins Splinter Sprain Stress and Tension Stretch Marks Sunburn Tendinitis Testicle Inflammation Tick Bite Tinnitus Toenail Fungus Urinary Tract Infection Varicose Veins Warts Wasp Sting Water Retention Whooping Cough Chapter Five: Wellness and Beauty Boosts Astringent Bath Balls Bath Salts Body Butter Cuticle Treatment Deodorant Facial Cleanser Hair Conditioner Lip Balm Lip Gloss (Clear) Mask Moisturizer Nail Growth Oil Scrub Shampoo Toner Chapter Six: Simple Scents and Pleasures Candles Pillow Spray Potpourri Sachets Scented Stationery Chapter Seven: Your Natural Home Air Freshener All-Purpose Cleaner Bathroom Cleaner Bathtub Cleaner Dryer Ball Fabric Softener Floor Cleaner Furniture Polish Laundry Detergent (Powder) Toilet Cleaner Window Cleaner Chapter Eight: Your Personal Apothecary Allspice Aniseed Basil Bay Benzoin Bergamot Black Pepper Cajeput Caraway Carrot Seed Cassia Cedarwood Chamomile (German) Chamomile (Roman) Cinnamon Citronella Clary Sage Clove Coriander Cypress Dill Eucalyptus Fennel Frankincense Geranium Ginger Grapefruit Helichrysum Hyssop Jasmine Juniper Berry Lavandin Lavender Lemon Lemongrass Lemon Verbena Lime Mandarin Marjoram Melissa Myrrh Neroli Niaouli Nutmeg Orange Palma Rosa Patchouli Peppermint Petitgrain Pine Rose Rose Geranium Rosemary Rosewood Sage Sandalwood Spearmint Spikenard Tagetes Tangerine Tea Tree Thyme Vetiver Ylang-Ylang Appendix A: Top 25 Essential Oils and How to Use Them Appendix B: Know Your Brands Glossary Additional Reading INTRODUCTION ave you ever walked into a park in late spring and caught the scent of the first blooming lilacs or honeysuckle? Different regions have different plants, but people’s reactions are almost universal: the sudden thrill at a familiar perfume, an immediate uplift in mood, an automatic smile, and often a sigh of relaxation. Maybe the fragrance of a flower in bloom announces that spring has arrived or brings back memories of a favorite garden, or maybe the scent has a healing power of its own. But the feeling of being happier and more relaxed is the same, no matter how it’s explained. That walk in the park amounts to a brief experience of aromatherapy, one of the many uses to which essential oils have been put for almost a thousand years. Today essential oils are largely relegated to a subordinate place in the Western apothecary, but they’re still prevalent in the Ayurvedic medical practices of India and other Eastern cultures, and essential oils are also regulated and used as prescription medicines in several European countries, with results that have brought about something of a 21st-century revival for many of these scented wonders as some academic researchers begin to test their effects. And with health care costs skyrocketing, it’s no surprise that many people are exploring ways to remedy some of their own common ailments without running to the doctor over and over and racking up medical bills for minor problems. Natural disasters seem to be coming more frequently, too, which is why people everywhere are starting to see essential oils as an important component of a preparedness kit for times when there’s no access to prescription medications. But it’s important to know which essential oils are helpful for which conditions, and it’s just as important to know exactly how essential oils should be used. This book explains what essential oils are and teaches you how to use them in aromatherapy and in topical applications for more than 100 ailments. It also includes recipes for making your own massage oils and cosmetics as well as sachets, scented bath products, candles, and nontoxic household cleaners. And Appendix A lists the 25 most common essential oils along with the conditions each oil treats. If you have a major illness, there’s no substitute for modern medicine. But essential oils can give you the power to take control of your daily health and manage many common ailments. This book puts the tools and techniques right in your hands. H BEFORE YOU BEGIN Once you start exploring, you’ll find a lot of information about essential oils online. You’ll find a lot of misinformation, too, such as the notion that the term therapeutic-grade essential oil is anything more than a branding slogan invented by multi-level marketers of these products, or the legend that medieval Europeans warded off bubonic plague by wearing masks filled with “antiviral” aromatic herbs (the herbs probably did help with the stench of plague-stricken cities and towns). Sooner or later you’ll also see reports that people in some countries take essential oils internally—a piece of information that happens to be true, especially in France, where essential oils are sometimes prescribed for oral use, but only under strict medical supervision, and with prescriptions filled by pharmacists specially trained in the oils’ properties, interactions, and side effects. In the United States, though, no regulatory body inspects or controls the essential oils sold in stores or through distributors, and there are no established standards for a therapeutic dose. This book strongly advises you not to take any essential oil internally—not to place any oil in your mouth or under your tongue, not to swallow any oil or put it in your eyes or your ears, and not to use a syringe to inject any oil into your body or any body cavity through any opening. Why take a chance with your health? Talk with your doctor before using any essential oil. And if your doctor tells you it’s not safe to use essential oils internally, you can still enjoy their benefits through inhalation and topical application. UNDERSTANDING ESSENTIAL OILS Understanding essential oils is not difficult; in fact, part of their allure is that the methods are quite simple. Albert Einstein—a man who understood how to distill the obscure—once said, “Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.” Although essential oil methods are not complicated, it’s important to lay the groundwork and build working knowledge about essential oils, how they are extracted from plants, and what precautions you should take when using them. By establishing comprehensible language and guidelines, Part 1 gives you the tools to freely explore the oils and treatments provided in Part 2. 1 LEARN THE BASICS 2 TOOLS FOR SAFE HEALING 3 MASTER THE METHODS Confidently begin your exploration of essential oils and their ability to improve your quality of life efore you begin experimenting with the healing properties of essential oils, you’ll need a basic understanding of what these substances are and what they can accomplish. Long before modern humans developed the ability to make medicines by using chemical synthesis, microbes, hormones, and enzymes, our ancestors turned to the natural world to find ways of treating a wide range of ailments. In earlier times, people took essences from plants and distilled them into oils to soothe pain, quiet coughs, clear congestion, draw infection out of wounds, and promote restful sleep. The results they obtained with essential oils were so good that this ancestral knowledge was passed down to generations of healers and physicians for thousands of years, first as oral instructions, then as words written on papyrus and in paper notebooks, and eventually as articles published in professional journals. In our own time, this information is available online, and essential oils still qualify as prescription medications in some countries. Nevertheless, you’ve probably encountered negative rumors or disparaging information about essential oils, perhaps online or even in your doctor ’s office. This chapter addresses those issues and will help you begin your exploration of essential oils and their ability to improve your quality of life. And today, you don’t need to distill your own essential oils. You can purchase them in stores that sell natural products and promote general health. B WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS? Essential oils are the true essence of a plant, hence the word essential. They come from a group of chemical molecules in plants called terpenes (or hydrocarbons), the cellularlevel compounds that create a plant’s scent. Terpenes are organic compounds produced by a plant to create an aroma, a key factor in the plant’s ability to protect itself from parasites. Many trees release strong-scented terpenes in warm weather. This process helps create create clouds so that a stand of trees can regulate its own temperature. Terpenes are the main component of essential oils. Each plant species has a unique combination of 100 or more terpenes, which make the scent of that species different from the scent of any other. Terpenes may reside in a plant’s flowers, roots, leaves, bark, stem, or seeds. Not only do these compounds give plants their powerful scents, they also make plants particularly potent for a wide range of uses—as flavorings in food, as scents and cleaning agents in household and beauty products, and as medicines with demonstrated remedial properties. Even though we use the term essential oils, we are not really talking about oils in their true sense. Think of olive oil, canola oil, almond oil, or sesame oil, for example. What do these oils do when you heat them for cooking? They remain in their liquid state even at high temperatures, which is why they are called fixed oils. But essential oils vaporize when they’re heated. That’s what makes them easy to inhale in aromatherapy, and it’s what makes them effective for other medicinal uses. A fixed oil is a natural oil that does not change its state when heated. Fixed oils can come from plants or animals, and they usually contain fatty acids, which can be important in a balanced diet. HOW ARE ESSENTIAL OILS MADE? Most essential oils are obtained from plants by one of three basic methods: distillation, expression, and either solvent extraction or hypercritical CO2 extraction. Distillation The first method, distillation, is a process of using steam to break down the plant and capture the compounds within it as they escape in the form of vapor. Distillation breaks down a plant’s leaves, stem, flowers, roots, or bark and captures the terpenes inside. Distillation begins inside a sealed container, with the plant material placed on a grid to let moisture reach the plant from all sides. The particular distillation method will depend on which parts of the plant contain the terpenes that make up the plant’s essence: In water distillation, the plant is placed in water inside the sealed container, and the water is boiled to produce the steam that breaks the plant down. A distiller will use this method for blossoms, in particular, because water distillation makes it easier for the steam to get through them. In water-and-steam distillation, the plant stays on mesh above the level of the water so that the steam can move up through the plant. In steam distillation, there’s no water in the container at the beginning of the process. The distiller injects steam into the bottom of the container at high pressure, and the steam rises through the plant matter, softening it so that the essential oil can be obtained. In hydrodiffusion distillation, the steam enters the container from the top rather than from the bottom. This process creates an environment in which the essential oil can be extracted from tougher parts of the plant, such as the bark, a woody stem, or the seeds. Once the container has been sealed, the steam—whether produced within the container or injected from outside—softens the plant until the plant’s terpenes rise in the form of vapor along with the steam. As the vapor and the steam rise, they travel into a condenser, where they cool until they become two separate liquids—essential oil and water. Then they descend together into a container at the bottom of the condenser, where the essential oil collects on the surface of the water. Because oil and water do not mix, it’s fairly easy to siphon off the essential oil. Expression The second method of obtaining essential oils is known as expression. This method is used for citrus plants, such as bergamot, lemon, orange, and tangerine. Expression, also known as cold-pressing, uses a mechanical process to rotate and puncture the rind of a fruit. The essential oil and the juice released from the rind are then collected in a container. The juice and oil from citrus fruits were once expressed by hand, but with today’s sophisticated equipment, they can both be expressed in massive quantities, with the expressed liquid allowed to stand until the essential oil rises to the top, where it’s siphoned off for packaging. Solvent Extraction and Hypercritical CO2 Extraction Specific kinds of essential oils have to be obtained through a third general method, usually because their source plants are too fragile to withstand the deliberate stresses of distillation or expression. One example of this method is solvent extraction, which is used for delicate flowers like jasmine and gardenia. First a solvent is used to draw out the plant’s terpenes, its chlorophyll, and some plant tissue as well as the fats or waxes contained in the plant. The substance that results is called a concrete (and has nothing to do with the material used to pave roads). Then the concrete is mixed with alcohol to draw out the scented molecules. The final product of this process is called an absolute. Manufacturers of cosmetics and perfumes often use absolutes in their products. As its name suggests, the method known as solvent extraction uses a solvent—such as methanol, ethanol, hexane, or petroleum ether—to draw the terpenes and other matter out of a plant. The substance that results is called a concrete. An absolute is the final product of solvent extraction. It consists of an alcohol-based essential oil extract with about 5 to 10 parts per million (ppm) of solvent residue remaining from the extraction process. Absolutes are normally used only for aromatherapy, but some therapists discourage their use because of these trace amounts of solvents. Another example of this third method is known as hypercritical carbon dioxide extraction or CO2 extraction. This method, which was developed quite recently, makes it possible to capture elements (such as the medicinal properties of plants like frankincense and ginger) that would be lost during one of the more widely used distillation processes. It also produces a more authentic plant fragrance. Hypercritical CO2 extraction uses very high pressure to bring gaseous carbon dioxide to the point where no physical distinction remains between liquid and gas. The dense quasi-liquid that results is able to pass through the plant material and extract the compounds that make up the plant’s essential oil. This method is also used to extract caffeine from coffee beans. ESSENTIAL OILS AND HEALING A Brief History The use of plants for healing probably began among our earliest ancestors, who determined that certain plants had the ability to help a sick person recover. This information, passed down verbally from one generation to the next, eventually brought about the extraction of essential oils from strong-smelling plants. Around the 7th century BCE, visiting physicians from several Greek cities arrived in Egypt and left with knowledge about the use of essential oils in healing. In the Bible, nearly 200 mentions of essential oils occur throughout the Old and New Testaments, not the least of which has to do with the three wise men’s gift of two plant resins, frankincense and myrrh, to the infant Jesus. Such a gift for a newborn seems absurd from a modern perspective, but these two substances were highly prized for their ability to strengthen a baby’s immune system. The fall of Roman civilization seems to have put much knowledge about essential oils on hold for centuries, but Avicenna, a Persian man of science born in 980 CE, is reputed to have rediscovered the art of distillation, and physicians continued to use essential oils well into the 19th century. Today, researchers at universities around the world are studying essential oils for evidence of their healing properties. BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS Each essential oil has its own properties for healing, relaxation, and mood alteration, and this book provides information about more than 60 of the most popular oils and the benefits you can enjoy from each one. You can use an essential oil to add a few drops of your favorite scent to your bathwater or you can turn to essential oils for aromatherapy. You can add one or more essential oils to your massage oil or you can take advantage of essential oils’ medicinal properties. However you use essential oils, you’ll find that they’re a welcome addition to your personal apothecary. WHAT IS AROMA THERAPY? Anytime you use a fragrant plant extract in your bath, as a massage oil, as an inhalant in your home, or for health or healing, you are practicing a form of aromatherapy. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy defines this practice as “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit.”1 An essential oil contains volatile organic compounds extracted from the source plant, and these may be able to improve your health. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are naturally occurring chemicals. Most scents are made up of VOCs. Some VOCs, such as methane, are harmful to the environment, but essential oils are considered to pose far fewer environmental risks. The essential oils used in aromatherapy may relieve stress or stimulate the body’s energy levels. They may promote relaxation and restful sleep. They may also have an effect on depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, chest and nasal congestion, infection, and a wide range of other common ailments. Chapter 4, “A World of Natural Wellness,” and Appendix A explore essential oils and the many ailments they can be used to treat. TIPS FOR USING ESSENTIAL OILS 1. Understand that essential oils are not the same as perfumes. Most perfumes are made from synthetic ingredients, even when their packaging claims that they are “natural” fragrances. If you’re planning to buy an oil for therapeutic purposes, be careful to check the bottle for the words essential oil. 2. Don’t shop exclusively by price. Discount oils may not be as pure as the more expensive ones, and it’s also true that the most expensive oils are not necessarily the best. A handful of distilleries sell their essential oils to bottlers all over the world, and so it’s entirely possible that all you’re buying for a higher price is a fancier label (and a multi-level marketing scheme). See Appendix B for a breakdown of essential oil brands. 3. Remember that essential oils are highly concentrated. Just a drop or two of most essential oils will be more than enough to produce the desired effect. An essential oil represents a very powerful concentration of terpenes. 4. Add essential oils to carrier oils. Because essential oils are so concentrated, they can cause skin irritation and other adverse effects if you apply them directly to your skin. Always dilute your essential oils by adding two or three drops to a carrier oil (a fixed oil like almond oil or grape seed oil) in a ratio of about 50 parts carrier oil to 1 part essential oil. The correct ratios for each essential oil are given in part 2 of this book. See here for information about the variety of oils that can be used as carrier oils. A topically applied essential oil must be mixed with a substance that does not vaporize when exposed to oxygen, the way an essential oil does. That’s where a carrier oil comes in. As its name suggests, a carrier oil is used to dilute a highly concentrated, potentially irritating essential oil and “carry” it to the skin. Carrier oils come from cold-pressing the fatty parts of a plant, such as the nut, the fruit, or the seed. Many carrier oils (for example, almond oil and grape seed oil) are commonly found in natural foods stores and supermarkets. 5. Be aware that essential oils can eat through plastic. Use only glass bottles with metal lids to store your oils, and only a ceramic or glass bowl to create a blend. 6. Test your skin for sensitivity before using an essential oil. It’s smart to do a skin test before using an essential oil, just as you would with any kind of topical medication. Add a drop of the essential oil to a teaspoon of a carrier oil or to a cream, wax, or another diluting substance, and then rub a little of the solution on the inside of your upper arm. Wait a few hours and see if redness or a rash develops. If nothing happens, you’re ready to use the diluted oil more liberally. If you do develop redness, you have a sensitivity to this particular essential oil, and you should refrain from using it on your skin. 7. Not all essential oils are safe for children. You should rarely use an undiluted essential oil on your own skin, and you should never use one on a child’s, because the absorption rate through a child’s skin is much faster than through an adult’s. For a child, you’ll need only half the amount of essential oil recommended for an adult. To be sure that an oil is safe for your child, consult the precautions here and in Part 2 of this book. In particular, avoid topical use of lavender oil and tea tree oil on prepubescent boys—these oils’ high hormonal-trigger content can cause boys in this age group to grow breasts.2 8. Avoid essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy, and consider avoiding them throughout your pregnancy. As you will read over and over in this book, essential oils are natural, but many of them are not recommended for use while you’re pregnant—and no essential oil should be used during the first trimester. When you read descriptive information about an essential oil or remedy, look for warnings about pregnancy and nursing. 9. Treat your essential oils the way you would treat an over-the-counter medication. Keep them away from children, use them only as directed, and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Many of your essential oils will last for years—the bottle you buy today could still be with you a decade or more from now, and it will retain its full strength. The longevity of an effective essential oil makes that oil a particularly good choice for inclusion in an emergency-preparedness kit. THE SCIENCE OF SCENTS Essential Oils and Emotion When you inhale a fragrance, its scent molecules—the VOCs discussed earlier—enter your nose, where they remain in a part of the nasal lining (the olfactory membrane). Within this lining is the olfactory epithelium, a specialized tissue containing receptor neurons (nerve cells) that become containers for the scent molecules. But these neurons don’t just trap the scent molecules and hold them inside the nose. They also send electrical impulses to the brain’s olfactory bulb, the center of the sense of smell. The olfactory bulb then signals the amygdala, an area of the brain that contains emotional memories. (This is why the sense of smell is such an immediate trigger for remembering long-ago feelings and events.) The olfactory bulb also distributes signals to the sense of taste, housed in the gustatory center, and this signaling is what makes aromas a key factor in how food tastes. Olfaction—the sense of smell—is the only one of the five senses that is directly connected to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing as well as memory and hormone balance. (The other senses—hearing, sight, taste, and touch—are all connected to the thalamus, another region of the brain.) The limbic system regulates fear, anger, depression, anxiety, happiness, and sadness, and it is believed that a scent entering the olfactory bulb has the ability to affect all these emotional responses. Notes 1. “What Is Aromatherapy?,” National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, accessed June 23, 2014, http://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy/what-is-aromatherapy. 2. “Lavender and Tea Tree Oils May Cause Breast Growth in Boys,” National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, NIH News, January 31, 2007, http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jan2007/niehs-31.htm. All you need is the ability to measure and mix liquids and the patience to watch for the results you seek erhaps you’ve heard stories from friends or neighbors about the positive effects of using essential oils, or maybe you’ve talked with your doctor or another health-care professional about options for treating common ailments, possibilities that go beyond pharmaceutical medicine. Whatever your current motivation, you’ve made the decision to learn more about essential oils and their health benefits. Now it’s time to start making the most of your determination to find alternatives for you and your family. It’s surprisingly easy to move ahead with essential oils, but it will take some initial setup and a few basic decisions. This chapter provides an overview of the industry, listing names and terms you’ll be seeing repeatedly as you become more familiar with the use of oils, and identifying sources you’ll use when gathering supplies and tools. The good news is that you don’t need any special skills beyond the ability to measure and mix liquids and the patience to wait and watch for the results you seek. P SMART SHOPPING What is a high-quality essential oil, and how do you know that you’re buying one? The buying process can be precarious because there are so many products that claim to be pure or essential when they are not. Sorting through the tricky vocabulary can leave you more confused than informed, so let’s begin by clearing up some of the misleading language. Be very aware of the chain of supply involved in a large part of the essential oils and aromatherapy industry. This industry is not regulated the way the pharmaceutical and food industries are. Almost all essential oils come from only a few distillers around the world, but the companies that buy these distilled oils may either sell them in their purest form or mix them with a variety of additives to increase the volume of particular products. This means that the oil you purchased as “pure” may actually be adulterated. Too many cooks spoil the broth—or, in this case, the oil—so look for essential oils that come to you directly from the distiller. You can purchase these online or through a number of aromatherapy outlets. The chain of supply is made up of all the companies that intervene between the plant growing in the field and the bottle of oil you take home. Growers, distillers, processors, bottlers, distributors, and retailers all have an influence on the product before you buy it. An essential oil is adulterated if it contains anything but pure essential oil. If the bottle says that the oil includes a preservative, an alcohol product, or one of many other chemicals, the oil is no longer an essential oil and will not produce the full therapeutic effect you seek. It’s also possible to buy essential oils that are pure but of low quality, either because they were handled or stored improperly or because they came from inferior plants. Lowquality oils are harder to spot because distributors rarely label products as inferior. Your best bet is to do your research and find a distiller or vendor whose products you like and trust. Try purchasing small quantities of one or two essential oils from this distiller or vendor, and see if you get the results you want. Some vendors offer samples of their oils that you can try before making a large purchase. If you are offered this opportunity, take it. Here are some words to watch for on the labels of commercially available essential oils: Fragrance oil. This term is used only for oils that are combined with chemicals, or for blends of synthetics. An essential oil will always be called an essential oil. Nature-identical oil. Any product labeled in this way is not strictly from nature. It may contain extenders or dilutants, two additives that adulterate the oil. Extenders are additives, either natural or synthetic, that may contain fragrance—chemicals that smell more or less like the essential oil you intended to buy, but that have none of the oil’s therapeutic properties. In some cases, extenders are used to make a particularly viscous oil easier to pour.1 Dilutants, sometimes called diluents, are colorless, odorless synthetic additives that allow bottlers to stretch the supply of an essential oil. Some dilutants are dangerous for topical use or for use as inhalants, and some may even be carcinogenic.2 Perfume oil. Perfumes are made primarily from synthetic compounds, so a product that proclaims itself a perfume is not an essential oil. Pure. In the absence of official regulation, the word pure has become almost meaningless. Many substances that contain chemicals are nevertheless labeled as pure. To get an idea of whether an oil is truly pure, look on the label for the oil’s botanical name, country of origin, and method of extraction. If this information is not in evidence, the oil is probably adulterated. In addition, if the label lists any ingredient other than essential oil, the oil is not pure. Synthetic fragrance. The word synthetic on the label says all you need to know. Therapeutic-grade or aromatherapy-grade. These terms have been popularized by multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that sell essential oils. In reality, there is no grading system in the aromatherapy industry, so there is no such thing as a therapeutic-grade or aromatherapy-grade essential oil. (MLM companies, when pressed on this point, claim that these terms reflect their internal standards for quality.) In multi-level marketing (MLM), someone who sells a product earns income from her own sales as well as from product sales by the people in her downline, a term referring to those she has recruited into the sales organization. MLM has come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission, which claims that the MLM strategy exploits downline sellers and often amounts to little more than a pyramid scheme. The most important thing to remember is that if the label on the bottle does not say essential oil, what’s inside the bottle is not essential oil (or at least it’s not purely essential oil). Apart from labels, there are several other visual cues that will help you make the best choice when you’re in a store and looking at various brands of essential oils: Bulking. If an essential oil appears to be pure but is markedly less expensive than others of the same variety, it may have been bulked to reduce its cost. Bulking is the practice of extracting essential oils from plants that are from the same species but different harvests, or even using dried plants from previous years along with the current year’s fresh plant material. The resulting product is still essential oil, but it may be less effective than a slightly more expensive variety made from a single harvest. Clear glass bottles. Essential oils should come in dark glass bottles—usually amber or cobalt—to filter out the ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and other sources. Oils will deteriorate if they are exposed to direct sunlight or to overhead lighting that includes the UV spectrum. Dusty bottles. Bottles that have been on the shelf for months or years are likely to gather dust. If a store’s essential oils are in dusty bottles, they may have been sitting around for a long time. Loose caps. Essential oils are volatile, which means that they evaporate when exposed to air. Most evaporate slowly, but if you pick up a bottle in a store and the cap is loose, you may already have lost some of the oil to the air. Rectified, redistilled, folded, or reconstituted oils. These terms reflect the use of mechanical processes to remove certain natural components from the oils, particularly the terpenes, which create an essential oil’s strong scent. The oil products that result are used by the flavoring industry but are not appropriate for aromatherapy or other therapeutic uses. It’s unlikely that you will find these oils for sale in stores or on reputable websites where aromatherapy products are sold. TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT To use your essential oils effectively, you’ll need tools for turning them into inhalants, creams, lotions, and ingestible compounds. You will find a wealth of online sites and places in your community where you can buy the tools you need, and you may be surprised by how much is out there. As you become a more experienced user of essential oils, you’ll develop preferences for various tools and equipment, but here are some basic items to get you started. Must-Haves Bottles and vials. Once you’ve discovered a blend of essential oils and a carrier oil that serves a particular purpose, you’ll want to mix up a batch, and you’ll need a supply of small amber or cobalt glass bottles and vials to hold your favorite concoctions. Cases. It’s important to keep essential oils and blends in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight—the way you store them will have an impact on their effectiveness over the long term. The aromatherapy industry offers a wide variety of cases in a range of sizes, some as small as a wallet. A case with a lid is the perfect solution to the problem of preserving your oils and keeping them organized in one place at home. But you’ll probably want to have several smaller, portable cases, too, so you can keep one filled with your favorite blends in your desk drawer at work and slip another into your suitcase when you’re on the road. Diffuser (nebulizer). This item lets you fill a whole room with the therapeutic aroma of an essential oil or blend. Your diffuser may turn out to be the most important piece of equipment you’ll buy. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the large selection of diffusers available for purchase. Start with an inexpensive one, or borrow one from a friend while you’re learning how a diffuser works and what type you might like. (For more about diffusers, see here.) Droppers. Sometimes you’ll find an essential oil in a bottle that has an orifice reducer, which allows a single drop to be dispensed—a great convenience. Or sometimes an oil comes in a bottle capped with a dropper that has a rubber top. But a dropper like this can be leaky—the last thing you want with an expensive oil. And if the dropper is left in the bottle, the rubber top can deteriorate, ruining the oil and making the bottle unusable. That’s why it’s best to buy droppers and oils separately (and if you buy a dropper with a rubber top, never leave it in a bottle of essential oil). Funnel. When the time comes to transfer your blended oils into bottles and vials, you’ll be glad you have a funnel. Be sure to choose one that fits your bottles and vials. Pipettes. Like a dropper, a glass pipette lets you dispense essential oils one drop at a time into carrier oils or lotions. But a pipette can be even better than a dropper—it gives you better control, helps you avoid messy slipups, and eliminates the risk of waste and contamination associated with rubber-topped droppers. These are some of the reasons why many experts in essential oils recommend pipettes over droppers. Syringes. If you’re aiming for high precision when you transfer a measured amount of an essential oil, you’ll want to use a syringe. Syringes are marked in increments as small as a drop or a hundredth of a milliliter. This kind of syringe should not be confused with a hypodermic syringe, the kind that has a needle on the end. Nice-to-Haves Atomizer. This is the small pump at the top of a perfume bottle. You’re going to need an atomizer if you expect to spray your pillow with lavender to promote restful sleep, or if you want to use aromatherapy in this way for other purposes. Blender. If you plan to combine essential oils with carrier creams and make your own lotions, nothing beats a blender for saving time and effort while getting a thorough mix. You don’t have to buy a special or dedicated blender for this purpose, but you also don’t want your lotions flavoring your everyday sauces and smoothies. Before and after using your blender to make a lotion, spray the inside with vodka and let it dry or wipe it dry with a clean paper towel.3 Make sure your blender has a glass jar, not a plastic one. Inhaler. An inhaler looks like a lipstick case and lets you carry your favorite scent in your pocket or purse. Add a few drops of an oil or blend to the wick inside the inhaler, and take a sniff whenever you need to sharpen your wits, clear your mind, elevate your mood, or fight stress. Storage Most essential oils will retain their integrity on the shelf for up to two years, and some will last for up to a decade, as long they’re properly stored. You’ve already learned that you should keep your essential oils in dark-colored glass bottles, away from the sun and other sources of ultraviolet light, so that means no bottles on the kitchen windowsill, no matter how pretty they look. And you know that you can choose from a variety of storage cases. Here are a few more tips for making sure you preserve the full value of your investment in your essential oils: Don’t decant oils into plastic bottles. Essential oils and plastic don’t mix. Over time, an essential oil will eat through a plastic bottle. The oil will be ruined, and you’ll end up with a mess on your hands. Keep oils away from open flames. Essential oils are volatile and quick to catch fire, so don’t store or use them near a gas stove, a fireplace, or a burning candle. Replace caps tightly. Just as you need to keep your bottles out of the sun, you need to keep oxygen out of your bottles. You’ve already been warned that when you’re shopping for essential oils in a store, a loose cap on a bottle is a sign that some of the oil inside has probably evaporated and/or lost potency. A loose cap at home means the same thing—some of your precious oil has vanished into thin air. Store oils in the refrigerator. You can extend the life of many of your oils, especially citrus oils, by keeping them in the refrigerator. Some oils will solidify in the fridge, but they’ll retain their integrity and potency. Just remove them and leave them out long enough to reach room temperature before you use them. The refrigerator is a good place for your carrier oils, too—unlike essential oils, carrier oils grow rancid over time if they’re not properly stored. COMMONLY AVAILABLE CARRIER OILS It’s not unusual for a supplier of essential oils to offer a line of carrier oils, too. As noted here, however, many carrier oils are also found in natural foods stores and supermarkets. Although a carrier oil is usually obtained through a cold-pressing or expeller-pressing process that retains the oil’s natural color, scent, and constituents, some oils are obtained through maceration. Constituents are the parts of a whole oil that are the source of its nutritional or therapeutic value. Suppliers of carrier oils use minimal refining processes to keep the oils from losing their most important parts. Maceration is a process of extracting a plant’s essence by soaking plant matter in hot oil and rupturing the cell membranes. The hot oil is then strained to remove the plant matter, then bottled without further processing. Unlike cosmetics companies, which refine their carrier oils for more economical use, suppliers of essential oils maintain the integrity of the original oils to maximize the oils’ therapeutic value. Here are some of the most common carrier oils, with some tips for choosing what’s right for you: Aloe vera oil. This is one of the great healing oils, providing relief from pain and itching and reducing inflammation. The gelatinous substance that comes from inside the leaves of this succulent plant is collected through maceration of the stems in soybean oil. This substance has long been known as a treatment for first-degree burns and sunburn, so it’s not surprising that aloe vera oil can reduce the appearance of scarring. It is even reputed to improve blood circulation. Apricot kernel oil. A favorite among therapists for facial massage, apricot kernel oil is rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid, two fatty acids that are particularly valued for their ability to revitalize the skin. Apricot kernel oil combines easily with essential oils and spreads smoothly on the skin, properties that could make this your go-to oil for treating acne or slowing down age-related skin changes. Avocado oil. Rich in vitamins A, D, and E as well as in lecithin and potassium, avocado oil on its own is particularly effective as a remedy for eczema and psoriasis, as a treatment for dehydrated or sun-damaged skin, and as an emollient for skin made dry by the aging process. Avocado oil also mixes well with other carrier oils. Calendula oil. As a member of the marigold family, the calendula plant produces a large flower resembling a marigold, and it’s this flower that is macerated to extract the plant’s essence. The carrier oil that results is a versatile treatment for tough wounds like bedsores and skin ulcers, not to mention bruises, varicose veins, burns, diaper rash, eczema, and itching skin. Evening primrose oil. This oil is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. It is considered effective against eczema.4 Grape seed oil. When you accidentally bite into a grape seed, that astringent taste is exactly what gives grape seed oil its ability to improve skin tone and tighten skin for a more youthful appearance, qualities that make this oil a good choice for facial massage. Grape seed oil can also help clear up acne and is often used in combination with almond oil and other popular massage oils. Hazelnut oil. This oil, expressed from the kernels of the hazelnut, has an aroma that is only one of its attributes. Others include its ability to be readily absorbed by the skin, which makes it a good choice for toning and tightening, and its astringent qualities, which make it appropriate for people with oily skin. Its fine texture comes from its high level of unsaturated fats. Hazelnut oil also mixes well with other kinds of oils. Jojoba oil. When is an oil not an oil? When it’s actually a liquid wax that comes from the seed of a plant—in this case, the jojoba plant. Jojoba (pronounced ho-HO-buh) became an important industrial product in the 1970s, after US bans on harvesting whale oil went into effect. Manufacturing companies soon discovered that jojoba was actually superior to whale oil as an additive to cosmetics, and its popularity surged. Jojoba contains myristic acid, which makes it an effective agent for treating inflammation and dry skin. As a carrier oil, it serves as a topnotch moisturizer and often doubles as a hair restorative. Macadamia oil. This oil contains large amounts of palmitoleic acid, one of the natural oils found on the skin, and serves as an excellent moisturizer. Its emollient properties make it particularly useful for softening aging skin and relieving dryness, and it has so many benefits for the hair that it’s used in a number of commercially available conditioners. In catalogs, you may also see it advertised as macademia nut oil. Olive oil. You’re already well acquainted with this oil as a cooking ingredient and a “miracle food” of the Mediterranean diet, but it also has strong medicinal properties. Olive oil, made from the pulp of the olive rather than the kernel, comes in different grades—extra virgin, virgin, and pure—that denote the level of the oil’s acidity. Extravirgin olive oil (popularly known as EVOO) is the highest-quality and most expensive grade, and it contains no more than 0.8 grams of oleic acid per 100 grams of oil. EVOO is pressed mechanically, without the use of solvents.5 Virgin olive oil contains up to 2 grams of oleic acid per 100 grams of oil. Pure olive oil, a blend of virgin and refined oils, is of lesser quality than EVOO, with a higher level of oleic acid. What this means for you is that EVOO is greener than other grades, a clue that it is the grade of oil closest to the original fruit and most useful as a remedy for inflamed or severely dry skin. But you may find the fragrance of olive oil too close to a food aroma for you to feel comfortable using it as a topical product, and you may also be repelled by its very oily texture. Sesame seed oil. This oil, expressed from the seed of the sesame plant, smells strongly like a wholesome snack, but if you mix it with almond oil or grape seed oil, you can lighten its heavy, oily texture and somewhat reduce the scent. The moisturizing and emollient properties of sesame seed oil make it a desirable treatment for aging or dry skin, and it has been found effective as a remedy for eczema and other itchy skin conditions. Sweet almond oil. This oil, obtained from the kernel of the almond, is a favorite with massage therapists because of its pleasant aroma, its soft texture, and its slow rate of absorption through the skin. Sweet almond oil relieves itching and inflammation, promotes a youthful complexion, and contains oleic acids that help nourish the skin. And sweet almond oil can be used by itself—it doesn’t need to be combined with any other kind of oil, whether an essential oil or another carrier oil. Walnut oil. If you’re allergic to nuts, be sure to do a skin test before using this oil, since it comes from cold-pressing the nuts of the walnut tree. Walnut oil can be helpful with dry skin but is rarely used alone. There are anecdotal reports of its effectiveness as a balancing agent for the nervous system when used in aromatherapy. Food-grade walnut oil’s high antioxidant content has been reported to provide many benefits, including potential resistance to certain kinds of cancer cells.6 Wheat germ oil. This oil is made from the wheat plant’s germ, or heart, which is rich in protein and minerals. Because its high vitamin E content can prevent rancidity and help lengthen the shelf life of other oils, wheat germ oil is a top choice for mixing with other oils to form a variety of blends. The vitamin E in wheat germ oil also aids the formation and growth of new skin cells, improves circulation, and repairs minor burns, such as sunburn. On its own, however, wheat germ oil is sticky and goopy, a property that makes it a much better mixing oil than a solo choice. DANGEROUS AND DEADLY Essential Oils to Avoid Some essential oils have been banned outright by the Genevabased International Fragrance Association and are no longer in common use for cosmetics or flavorings, although some are still available for industrial uses.7 Avoid these oils—some are fatal if swallowed, others are known carcinogens, and still others cause immediate skin sensitization: Ajowan Balsam of Peru Bitter almond Boldo leaf Cade oil crude (prickly juniper) Calamus (sweet flag) Camphor Colophony Costusroot (kuth) Croton Elecampane (scabwort) Fig leaf absolute Horseradish Jaborandi Massoia bark Melaleuca bracteata Melilotus Mustard Ocotea Parsley seed Rue Santolina Sassafras Savin Southernwood Styrax gum (oriental sweet gum) Tansy Tea absolute Thuja Tonka bean Verbena Wormseed Wormwood SAFETY CONCERNS It’s easy to confuse what is natural with what is safe, but a number of essential oils are definitely not safe in certain situations. In addition to the issues discussed in “Safety for Babies, Children, and Pregnant Mothers” (see here) and “Safety for Pets” (see here), specific cautions should be observed by people who are suffering from or susceptible to the following conditions: Cancer. Some health professionals recommend that people with cancer avoid aniseed, basil, bay, clove, cinnamon, fennel, ho leaf, laurel, nutmeg, and star anise essential oils. If a cancer is estrogen-dependent, aniseed and star anise essential oils should again be avoided along with citronella, eucalyptus, fennel, lemongrass, and verbena oils.8 Calamus oil and sassafras oil have been banned from the professional practice of aromatherapy because they contain compounds—asarone and safrole—that have been found to cause cancer. Needless to say, any other substance (such as yellow or brown camphor) that contains either of these carcinogenic compounds should also be avoided. In addition, methyl chavicol, found in some basil oils, may cause cancer when used in large quantities over a period of time. Cardiac (heart) problems. If you have problems with heart rhythm or blood pressure, avoid using peppermint essential oil, since large amounts of it can increase heart rate and cause palpitations. This book warns against the medically unsupervised oral use of any essential oil, and especially against the ingestion of peppermint oil by anyone who is taking a calcium channel blocker (such as amlodipine) for high blood pressure, since peppermint oil taken by mouth can increase the channel blocker ’s power.9 In addition, people with high blood pressure should avoid using stimulating essential oils, such as hyssop, rosemary, sage, and thyme.10 Epilepsy. Some oils are known to have a convulsant effect. People suffering from or at risk for epilepsy or any other convulsive disorder should never use essential oils of camphor, fennel, hyssop, rosemary, sage, or spike lavender (that is, Lavandula latifolia, which is not to be confused with normal lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia), nor should they use tansy, thuja, or wormwood essential oils.11 Hepatic (liver) problems. Essential oils used in massage or aromatherapy are unlikely to have adverse effects on the liver—unless the oils are swallowed, a practice that, again, this book emphatically discourages without the supervision of a knowledgeable physician. Essential oils that can cause liver toxicity if swallowed include aniseed, basil, bay, buchu, cassia, cinnamon, clove, fennel, and tarragon.12 Sensitive skin. A large number of essential oils can irritate sensitive skin, even for people who are not officially allergic to the source plants. Other oils can cause phototoxicity—that is, they can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun (see “Photosensitizing Oils,” here). If you’re interested in using a particular essential oil, check its description in this book so you can avoid using an oil that may leave you vulnerable to phototoxicity, especially on areas of your body that are habitually exposed to the sun. Be sure to perform a skin test, too, as described in “Tips for Using Essential Oils” (see here). Special caution is also called for in other situations, and in connection with certain activities: Caring for an elderly and/or frail person. Before you use any essential oil with someone who is elderly and/or frail, evaluate the precautions associated with the oil against the person’s medical conditions to be sure that use of the oil is not contraindicated. Once you’re sure it’s safe to go ahead, use only half the amount that is normally recommended, since the person’s skin may be hypersensitive to substances as well as to the sun. Driving. You can buy a diffuser that will plug into your car ’s cigarette lighter and fill your vehicle with scent, but what scent should you choose? Esoteric Oils, an international supplier of essential oils based in South Africa, recommends that you avoid scents that are too relaxing and that induce sleep, such as benzoin, carnation, chamomile, geranium, hops, hyacinth, lavender, linden blossom, mace, marjoram, neroli, nutmeg, ormenis flower, petitgrain, sandalwood, spikenard, valerian, vetiver, and ylang-ylang.13 SAFETY FOR BABIES, CHILDREN, AND PREGNANT MOTHERS Essential oils do come from natural sources, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’re safe for every person or every use. As noted here, lavender oil and tea tree oil can cause breast development in prepubescent boys, and a number of essential oils also contain hormones that can adversely affect a baby’s development. If you’re considering the use of any essential oil for your baby, be sure to check its description in this book, and carefully heed any warnings you find. If you decide to use the oil, measure half the amount (or less) that you would use for yourself, and dilute it with a carrier oil: 1 drop of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. The same formula applies to older children. When blending massage oil for a child, use half the strength you would use for yourself: a 1 percent dilution instead of the usual 2 percent dilution for an adult (see Part 2). And if you’re using an essential oil in a diffuser or vaporizer in your child’s room, keep the inhalation down to a minute or less, and never leave your child alone with the diffuser or vaporizer, or with any essential oil in any form. Remember, too, that swallowing even a small amount of an essential oil can be very dangerous to a child, so always make sure that your bottles, when not in use, are closed tightly, stored in their case, and placed out of children’s reach. As for the use of essential oils during pregnancy, anecdotal evidence links some oils to spontaneous miscarriage. In fact, some essential oils—including mugwort, parsley seed, pennyroyal, rue, sage, sassafras, savin, thuja, tansy, and wormwood—were used in folk medicine specifically as abortifacients (substances capable of inducing an abortion). As you know, this book strongly suggests that you not take any essential oil internally, but these particular oils are especially toxic when swallowed—they can cause multiple organ failure or even death. In addition, do not use any essential oil during the first trimester. The hormonal content of some essential oils can disrupt a pregnancy or affect the development of the fetus. Others—angelica, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, ginger, jasmine, juniper berry, myrrh, peppermint, rose, rosemary, sweet fennel, and sweet marjoram—can promote menstruation and should obviously be avoided altogether during pregnancy. In short, if you’re not absolutely sure that an essential oil is safe for you, your fetus, your baby, or an older child, follow this simple rule: Don’t use it. PHOTOSENSITIZING OILS Keep Your Skin Safe Some plants carry photodynamic agents, molecules that release free radicals and make the skin more susceptible to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and from the UV light found in tanning beds. Oils produced from these plants, especially citrus oils, are very reactive to UV light, and skin to which they have been applied will burn quickly. The skin burns because it has become photosensitized, which is why these are called photosensitizing oils. The phototoxicity that occurs is not directly caused by the oils themselves. Instead, it’s an effect of the interaction between UV light and the skin to which these oils have been applied. Be careful with the following essential oils. Don’t use them if you expect to be out in the sun within 12 hours of application, and never add any of them to a tanning or sunscreen blend—they won’t deepen your tan or protect you from the rays, but they may set you up for the sunburn of your life. Note, however, that the citrus oils marked here with an asterisk—bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine (mandarin)—are photosensitizing only when they’re obtained through coldpressing, not when they’re obtained through steam distillation: Angelica Bergamot* Bitter orange* Cumin Dill Ginger Grapefruit* Lemon* Lemon verbena Lime* Orange* Tagetes Tangerine (mandarin)* Yuzu SAFETY FOR PETS A few preliminary studies have been conducted in the last few years to determine whether aromatherapy or direct application of essential oils may be good for dogs. But the research remains rudimentary. Veterinarians differ in their experience with and opinions about the effectiveness of essential oils, and even anecdotal evidence is scanty in this area. Be that as it may, it’s never a good idea to leave your essential oils in a place where your dog or cat can get at them. As anyone who lives with a pet knows, an open bottle on a counter is an open invitation to a curious animal. It’s well known that dogs have a keen sense of smell. What is less well known is that a cat’s sense of smell is even stronger than a dog’s. In any case, even a drop of essential oil spilled on a countertop will draw your dog or cat right to the spill, so if you live with a pet, wipe up any oil spills immediately. You should also limit your pet’s time in any room where a diffuser is running. It may turn out that aromatherapy is good for pets—many practitioners have made this claim. But the rest of us need to wait until science has caught up with what is still an open question. Notes 1. David Crow, “How to Use Essential Oils Effectively: A Comprehensive Overview,” Floracopeia, accessed June 26, 2014, www.floracopeia.com/About/how-to-use-essential-oils-effectively. 2. Dorene Petersen, “Quality of Essential Oils: Diluents, Extenders, and Synergy . . . Oh My!,” ACHS Health and Wellness Blog, December 6, 2013, info.achs.edu/blog/bid/327398/Quality-of-Essential-Oils-Diluents-Extenders-Synergy-Oh-My. 3. Penny Keay, “Aromatherapy Blending and Mixing,” Birch Hill Happenings, accessed July 2, 2014, http://birchhillhappenings.com/SE2011blending.htm. 4. “Evening Primrose Oil,” University of Maryland Medical Center, last modified June 20, 2013, umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/evening-primrose-oil. 5. “Extra Virgin Olive Oil: What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?,” Olive Oil Times, accessed June 26, 2014, www.oliveoiltimes.com/extra-virgin-olive-oil. 6. James Heather, “Seven Great Benefits of Walnut Oil,” Medical Daily, August 4, 2010, www.medicaldaily.com/sevengreat-benefits-walnut-oil-231697. 7. “IFRA Banned and Restricted Oils,” Esoteric Oils, accessed June 26, 2014, http://www.essentialoils.co.za/bannedoils.htm; see also “Dangerous Essential Oils,” Elaine: Webbed, accessed June 26, 2014, http://eethomp.com/AT/dangerous_oils.html. 8. “Cancer, Carcinogens, and Essential Oils in Aromatherapy,” Esoteric Oils, accessed June 26, 2014, http://www.essentialoils.co.za/cancer.htm. 9. “Peppermint,” Heritage Essential Oils, accessed June 26, 2014, http://heritageessentialoils.com/peppermint.php. 10. “Essential Oil and High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) in Aromatherapy,” Esoteric Oils, accessed June 26, 2014, http://www.essentialoils.co.za/high-blood-pressure.htm. 11. “Epilepsy and Essential Oils in Aromatherapy,” Esoteric Oils, accessed June 26, 2014, http://www.essentialoils.co.za/epilepsy.htm. 12. “Certain Essential Oils Can Cause Liver Toxicity (Hepatoxicity),” Esoteric Oils, accessed June 26, 2014, http://www.essentialoils.co.za/liver-toxicity.htm. 13. “Essential Oils to Avoid When You Need to Concentrate,” Esoteric Oils, accessed June 26, 2014, http://www.essentialoils.co.za/concentration.htm. With regular practice, you’ll soon get the hang of measuring, dispensing, and blending essential oils his chapter tells you everything you need to know about aromatic and topical methods of using essential oils (as explained earlier, this book is not a guide to internal use). You’ll probably need some time to get the hang of measuring, dispensing, blending, and mixing essential oils. But with regular practice, the preparation process will become second nature. T AROMATIC METHODS Your sense of smell will be pleasantly engaged by the aromatic methods of using essential oils. Whether you’re inhaling an oil right from the bottle, sniffing an oil-infused cotton ball, or using an oil in a humidifier, a vaporizer, a diffuser, a nebulizer, or a facial steamer, don’t be deceived by those gentle, lovely aromas—essential oils pack a serious therapeutic punch. Essential Oils for Direct and Indirect Inhalation What could be simpler than removing the cap from a bottle of essential oil and breathing in the oil’s aroma? With this method, known as direct inhalation, you get the oil’s beneficial effects immediately, whether you’re seeking to sharpen your concentration with peppermint, myrrh, sandalwood, or frankincense oil, or boost your immune system with thyme oil, or calm your nerves with chamomile oil. When you use the method known as indirect inhalation, you apply undiluted essential oil to a piece of fabric, a cotton ball, a shirt collar, or a pillow case—a practice known as using the oil neat—or you place the oil in a heating or air conditioning duct or use a cotton ball to dab it on the slats of a car ’s air vents. A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY You may be accustomed to thinking that if a small amount of something is good, a large amount must be even better, but that’s not the way essential oils work. In fact, using them that way can be hazardous to your health. Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated, so they’re used in very small quantities, and most often they’re diluted with carrier oils or creams. Chapter 8 includes information about essential oils that are potential skin irritants. WHAT TO DO For direct inhalation, hold an uncapped bottle of essential oil close to your nose and take a few deep breaths, or place a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball and inhale three or four times. For indirect inhalation, apply the undiluted essential oil to fabric or cotton right from the bottle. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR One distributor of essential oils, dōTerra Aromatics, suggests placing a few drops of an essential oil on your palm, rubbing your hands together, holding your hands over your face, and inhaling.1 If you follow this suggestion, take care to avoid getting the oil in your eyes—that would cause you significant discomfort—and perform a skin patch test first (see here). Always pay attention to how your body reacts to any essential oil to make sure you’re not overusing the oil or having a bad reaction. Chapter 8 includes information about possible adverse reactions to essential oils. Essential Oils in a Humidifier A humidifier keeps the air in a room moist by dispersing a fine cool mist or releasing puffs of steam. This device can relieve dry skin as well as dryness of the mouth and nasal passages, especially in desert climates or areas where winters are cold and dry. A humidifier can also alleviate symptoms of a cold or the flu, and when it’s used with an essential oil, it can even improve your mood and sharpen your mind. WHAT TO DO Open your humidifier ’s water chamber, which is just what it sounds like—the part of the humidifier where the water goes. After you’ve filled the chamber to the specified level, add the recommended number of drops of essential oil (usually between 3 and 9), and turn the humidifier on. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR In general, children should not handle humidifiers, and no child should ever be left alone in a room with a humidifier that heats water to release steam. Don’t allow a humidifier to spray mist onto a wall, either—the wall can become saturated, and the moisture can turn to mold. To prevent mold from developing inside a humidifier, rinse the device out and dry it after each use. Essential Oils in a Vaporizer A vaporizer is essentially a humidifier that has a single purpose—to release warm, comforting steam. Vaporizers designed for use with essential oils often have two chambers, one for the water and one for a heat source, whether that’s a candle or an electrical heating element. Some also include what’s called a medicine well, or cup, which rests above the water and holds the essential oil. WHAT TO DO Fill the vaporizer ’s water chamber to the specified level, and either add 6 to 8 drops of essential oil to the water or place the oil in the medicine well. Then turn the vaporizer on. If you live in a hardwater area, you may want to pick up some demineralizing tablets from a pharmacy and add them to the water to keep mineral deposits from collecting inside the vaporizer and shortening its life. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR All the same precautions that apply to a humidifier should be observed with a vaporizer, but you need to be extra careful if your vaporizer uses a candle to heat the water. Essential Oils in a Diffuser Like a humidifier, a diffuser creates mist and sends it into the air, but a diffuser has no heating element. Hundreds of different styles are available for use with essential oils, to scent your environment, help you focus or relax, change your mood, and even boost your immune system. Some diffusers have an automatic shutoff, some feature a remote control or lights, and some even play relaxing music, although you may not need all those extras. Look for a diffuser that runs quietly, is easy to clean, and either has no light or has one that you can turn off if you want to use your diffuser overnight. You will also want a diffuser that can produce mist for a large area, such as the entire first floor of your house. WHAT TO DO Fill the diffuser ’s reservoir with filtered or distilled water, and add 8 to 15 drops of essential oil. If you just want to enjoy the scent, run the diffuser for 15 to 30 minutes, the period during which your nose can still discern the fragrance. For therapeutic use, run the diffuser beyond your nose’s ability to detect the scent. To switch fragrances midstream, so to speak, transfer the scented water in the diffuser to a ceramic or glass container (so you can use it again later) and then dry the reservoir with a towel, refill it with fresh water, and add 8 to 15 drops of a different oil. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Because a diffuser has no heating element, it’s safer around children than a vaporizer, but it’s always crucial to make sure kids and pets don’t have access to water containing essential oils. HOW BIG IS A DROP? Throughout this book, you’ll find instructions for using essential oils according to recipes that call for specific numbers of drops. But how much oil do you need for 2 or 5 or 8 drops? This table will help you keep your measurements precise and your remedies safe and effective. Drops 6 12 15 30 60 Milliliters (ml) 0.30 ml 0.60 ml 0.75 ml 1.50 ml 3.00 ml Percentage (%) of 1 Ounce* 1.0 2.0 2.5 5.0 10.0 * 1 ounce = 600 drops (30 ml) Source: Adapted from “Methods of Application,” Nature’s Gift, http://www.naturesgift.com/methods.htm Essential Oils in a Nebulizer In physician-supervised respiratory therapy, a nebulizer is a device that uses compressed air to deliver medication directly into a patient’s bronchial tubes and lungs for a short time by way of a mask that fits over the patient’s nose and mouth. The type of nebulizer used in aromatherapy doesn’t include a mask. Instead, it converts essential oil into a fine mist of microparticles and releases them into the air through a spout, perhaps over a period of several hours. Peppermint essential oil is a popular one for use in nebulizers. This oil is often used to promote alertness and is even said to increase pain tolerance.2 THE DO-IT-YOURSELF DIFFUSER Want the benefits of a diffuser without the price tag of a fancy device? Just put the kettle on, boil some water, let the boiled water cool a bit, pour it into a glass or ceramic bowl, add 10 to 20 drops of an essential oil or oil blend, and place the bowl of scented water wherever you want to enjoy its pleasant or therapeutic effects. WHAT TO DO Place a few drops of essential oil in the nebulizer ’s well, and turn the device on. When all the oil has been used up and no more vapor is being released from the nebulizer, turn the device off and clean it thoroughly. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Do not use a nebulizer with a mask and never directly inhale the microparticles of essential oil released by a nebulizer. Doing so can irritate your bronchial tubes and lungs and even cause a toxic reaction. It’s best not to use a nebulizer with plastic parts, since essential oils can eat through plastic. Essential Oils in a Facial Steamer This device heats water at high pressure and delivers a steady infusion of steam right to your face, hydrating your skin and extracting impurities while preserving your complexion. WHAT TO DO Fill the steamer ’s reservoir with distilled or filtered water (or tap water, if your steamer is made to use it). Put 8 to 15 drops of your essential oil or blend in the receptacle provided for it, usually near the device’s steam vent. (Some steamers require the oil to be applied to a cotton ball or cloth, which is then placed in the receptacle.) Turn the device on and let it heat up and start producing steam. Use the device’s nozzle to direct the steam toward the area you want to treat. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Steam can burn your skin, so pay attention, and don’t overuse your steamer. TOPICAL METHODS Although massage is probably the best-known topical use of essential oils, they’re also used topically in acupuncture and acupressure, in hot compresses and cold packs, in bathing and showering, and sometimes in direct application to the skin. Essential Oils for Massage In massage, an essential oil is diluted with a single carrier oil or a blend of several carrier oils before being applied to the skin. The person receiving the massage benefits from the oil’s absorption into the skin as well as from the release of the oil’s aroma into the air. WHAT TO DO See “Mixing Oils for Massage,” here. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR If you’re blending a massage oil for use with a child, reduce the dilution from 2 percent to 1 percent (see “How Big Is a Drop?,” here). With children as well as adults, avoid using any essential oil known to be a skin irritant (see Chapter 8). Essential Oils in Acupuncture and Acupressure Many practitioners of acupuncture and acupressure are also experts in herbal therapy, and recently they’ve begun to incorporate the essential oils into their work. For example, the points of acupuncture needles can be swabbed with one or more diluted oils or blends, and dilutions of essential oils and blends can be applied directly to the skin at the acupressure points associated with particular ailments. Essential oils combined with acupuncture and acupressure can reduce stress, boost immunity, increase vitality, help relieve pain, reduce the discomforts of menstruation and menopause, clear up skin issues, and promote wellness in other areas. WHAT TO DO If you’re seeing a practitioner of acupuncture or acupressure, ask about using essential oils to support your wellness goals. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Be sure to tell your practitioner about any skin sensitivities, allergies, or other adverse reactions you’ve experienced in your own work with essential oils. Essential Oils in Warm Compresses and Cold Packs If you have a muscle injury, a wound, or arthritis pain, adding essential oil to a warm compress can increase the known benefits of heat, moisture, and gentle pressure. This treatment can also relieve menstrual cramps, stomachache, intestinal cramping, boils, toothache, and chronic pain from old injuries. The benefits of a cold pack—pain relief for injuries along with reduction of swelling and inflammation—can be enhanced by the healing properties of essential oils. WHAT TO DO See “How to Make a Warm Compress,” here. Follow the same instructions to make a cold pack, but use refrigerated water or an ice bath (ice mixed with water) instead of hot water. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Always be sure to dilute your essential oils. For a hot compress, never use water hot enough to burn your skin. If you’re using a cold pack, be aware that ice placed directly on the skin can cause numbness and even frostbite, so remove the cold pack right away if the numbness develops in the area being treated. MIXING OILS FOR MASSAGE Enhance the Sense of Relief 1. When you use essential oils to make your own massage oils or lotions, use a 2 percent dilution in a carrier oil (see “How Big Is a Drop?,” here). That may seem like a very weak concentration if you’re accustomed to strongly scented commercial shampoos, hand soaps, body sprays, and other products, but it’s all you need for the effects of an essential oil to be experienced. 2. Use only carrier oils that are 100 percent natural. Synthetic carrier oils can block the effects of essential oils. To boost the effects of massage with essential oils, choose carrier oils that have therapeutic properties of their own (see Chapter 2). 3. Combine essential oils with carrier oils by gently mixing them in a small ceramic or glass bowl. If you’re combining an essential oil with a thicker lotion, butter, or cream, you may want to use a blender (see Chapter 2). 4. After a massage with essential oils, there’s no need to shower. Allow the oils to be absorbed slowly. HOW TO MAKE A WARM COMPRESS Heal with Heat 1. Fill a basin (not made of plastic) with about a pint of water as hot as you can comfortably stand. 2. Add 3 or 4 drops of your selected essential oil. If you’re using more than one type of essential oil, add no more than 4 drops total. 3. For your compress, choose a hand towel, another small piece of fabric, or a cloth bandage. 4. Place the compress on the surface of the water, and let the compress become completely saturated. 5. Lift the compress from the bowl of water, and wring out any excess. 6. Place the wet compress on the area to be treated. To contain the moisture, cover the compress with a plastic bag or a sheet of plastic wrap, and hold the compress and the plastic in place with a towel or an elastic bandage wrapped just tightly enough to keep the compress from slipping. 7. When the compress cools to body temperature, replace it with another warm compress. Essential Oils for Bathing and Showering Adding one or more essential oils to a bath is an easy way of enjoying their benefits, both as you inhale them and as they make contact with your skin. Bathing with properly diluted essential oils can relax you, promote good circulation, soothe your skin, and relieve respiratory ailments and muscle aches as well as premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramps. In the shower, combine your chosen essential oils with an unscented body wash, or with sugar or salt to create an invigorating scrub that delivers the oils’ benefits right to your skin. At the very least, this approach will help relieve such skin conditions as dryness and loss of elasticity. Any broader benefits will be determined by the essential oils you choose. WHAT TO DO To prevent essential oils from simply floating on top of your bathwater and potentially irritating your skin, add 5 to 10 drops of your essential oil or essential oil blend to half a cup of bath salts, milk, or sesame oil, and then pour that mixture into your bath. (See here for instructions on making your own bath salts.) For a shower, add 5 drops of your chosen essential oil for each ounce of liquid body wash. Be sure to blend the oil completely with the wash before applying the mixture to your skin. If you’re using a sugar scrub, thoroughly combine 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of a carrier oil, and 8 drops of your selected essential oil. Apply the mixture in the shower, and rinse it off thoroughly. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Some essential oils can be irritants and should not be added to bathwater or mixed with a liquid body wash or with sugar or salt. They include cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, oregano, thyme, and cold-pressed bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine/mandarin oils. Essential Oils for Layering Layering is direct application of one essential oil to the skin, followed several minutes later by direct application of a second essential oil. This method is considered to be potentially more effective than the use of a blend, since each oil is used at full strength. It also allows the pairing of two oils that may not be available in a commercial blend. WHAT TO DO Place a drop of the first oil directly onto your skin, rub the oil to distribute it over the area being treated, wait about six minutes, and repeat the procedure with a drop of the second oil, applied to the same place and rubbed for distribution over the first oil. Use two oils that have similar properties—for example, two antibacterial oils or two antifungal oils. You may also choose to use a single oil for one layer and a blend containing that oil for the other layer. Bear in mind that the two oils you choose for layering may have clashing scents, so hold the two bottles under your nose to determine how they smell together before you layer them. WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Before you begin, check Chapter 8 to determine if the essential oil you want to use is safe to use directly on skin. Be sure to perform a skin patch test with each of the oils you intend to use (see here). Notes 1. “Direct Inhalation of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy,” dōTerra Aromatics, accessed July 2, 2014, www.doterraaromatics.com/info/inhalation.html. 2. Laurice Maruek, “Peppermint Oil in a Nebulizer,” LiveStrong, August 16, 2013, www.livestrong.com/article/222093peppermint-oil-in-a-nebulizer. NATURE’S PRESCRIPTIONS Whether you’re looking for a natural way to shorten a cold or a method for fading freckles, you’ll find the remedy you seek in the following pages. Essential oils can become your go-to solutions for health and wellness, your natural beauty regimen, your chemical-free clean house, or a way to bring a breath of spring into your home in the dead of winter. You’ll also find information to help you build your personal apothecary of essential oils, so you can be ready for any illness, condition, or cleaning day. 4 A WORLD OF NATURAL WELLNESS 5 WELLNESS AND BEAUTY BOOSTS 6 SIMPLE SCENTS AND PLEASURES 7 YOUR NATURAL HOME 8 YOUR PERSONAL APOTHECARY Essential oils are effective against dozens of ailments, from acid reflux to whooping cough ow that you have a basic understanding of how to use essential oils, it’s time to put your new knowledge to work. This chapter tells you which oils are effective against dozens of ailments, from acid reflux to whooping cough, and gives you instructions for making your own remedies. The remedies that follow have been selected carefully for their documented effectiveness and their basis in science. At universities around the world, research has proved that some essential oils are as effective as pharmaceuticals in relieving symptoms and promoting wellness. Not all essential oils have been tested in laboratories, however, and many have been tested only in labs and not on human beings. Use your best judgment in choosing the remedies that are right for you and your family. Essential oils are not a substitute for medical care. In all cases, these remedies should be used alongside a medical approach—especially for chronic conditions (asthma, colitis, depression, diabetes, and heart disease, for example)—and not in lieu of a doctor ’s care. Talk to your doctor before using any essential oil to be sure it will not react with a medication you are already taking. If your condition gets worse, seek medical help as soon as possible. N Acid Reflux When acidic digestive juices in the stomach back up into the esophagus, the result can be a painful level of discomfort known as heartburn (because of the burning sensation) or acid reflux. RUB 1 teaspoon carrier oil 4 or 5 drops frankincense essential oil 1. Pour the carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the frankincense essential oil to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. At bedtime, rub this blend on the stomach, throat, and chest. Acne Acne is a skin condition aggravated by hormonal changes. Essential oils can help clear up blemishes and prevent the formation of new ones by cleansing the skin and fighting the production of sebum, the oily substance that can clog pores. NEAT TREATMENT 3 or 4 drops tea tree essential oil 1. Transfer the tea tree essential oil to a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Using a cotton swab, apply the undiluted tea tree essential oil directly to blemishes. IT’S MORE THAN ACADEMIC Two clinical studies, one from 1990 and the other from 2007, have confirmed tea tree oil as an effective treatment for acne.1 MASK To make a base powder for the mask 2 ounces green clay (available in powdered form at natural foods stores) 3 teaspoons corn flour 1. Mix the clay with the corn flour to create the mask powder. 2. Store the powder in a covered jar until you’re ready to use it. To make and use the mask 1 tablespoon mask powder 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast 1 tablespoon water 1 drop juniper berry essential oil 1 drop lavender essential oil 1. Mix the mask powder with the brewer ’s yeast in a glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the water to form a paste. 3. Add the juniper berry and lavender essential oils, and stir to combine. 4. Apply the mixture to the face, and leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. STEAM TREATMENT 3 cups hot water 1 drop clary sage essential oil 1 drop thyme essential oil 1. Pour the hot water into a glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the clary sage and thyme essential oils (they will remain on the water ’s surface). 3. Drape a towel over your head in such a way that it is also draped closely over the bowl. 4. Bend to hold your face over the bowl. Keep your eyes closed. 5. Remain in this position for about 5 minutes, periodically lifting one side of the towel to take a breath of fresh air. 6. After 5 minutes, sit back up and remove the towel. 7. Rinse your face with cold water to close the pores. NEAT BEDTIME BLEND 30 drops orange seed essential oil 15 drops carrot essential oil 3 drops chamomile essential oil 1. Transfer the orange seed, carrot, and chamomile essential oils to a dark-colored glass bottle that closes tightly. 2. At bedtime, using a cotton ball, apply 5 drops of this undiluted blend to skin affected by acne. 3. Leave the blend on for 5 minutes. 4. After 5 minutes, use a tissue to remove any excess oil. 5. Repeat this treatment once a day at bedtime until the acne fades. EARLY-WARNING DAB-ON BLEND 1 teaspoon jojoba or coconut carrier oil 3 drops oregano essential oil 1. Pour the jojoba carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the oregano essential oil to the carrier oil. 3. Using a cotton ball, dab this blend on skin where acne is about to appear, as indicated by the appearance of spots that characteristically precede an outbreak. 4. Repeat this treatment once a day until the spots are gone. Age Spots What used to be called liver spots (since they were once believed to have something to do with liver function) are small and generally harmless tan, brown, or black spots on the skin where pigmented cells have clumped together. You may choose to have a dermatologist remove your age spots, but the following remedies can help fade them. ONCE-A-DAY BLEND ¼ cup coconut carrier oil 6 drops frankincense essential oil 6 drops lavender essential oil 6 drops myrrh essential oil To make the blend 1. Put the coconut carrier oil in a glass or ceramic cup. 2. Add the frankincense, lavender, and myrrh essential oils to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. Pour the blend into a dark-colored glass bottle that closes tightly, and store the bottle in the refrigerator between uses. To use the blend 1. Using a cotton ball, apply this blend once a day to skin affected by age spots. 2. Repeat this treatment for several weeks, or until you notice results. TWICE-A-DAY BLEND 1 ounce organic castor oil 10 drops frankincense essential oil To make the blend 1. Pour the castor oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the frankincense essential oil to the castor oil, and stir to combine. 3. Pour the blend into a dark-colored glass bottle that closes tightly, and store the bottle in the refrigerator between uses. To use the blend 1. Using a cotton ball, apply this blend to skin affected by age spots. 2. Repeat this treatment 2 times a day for 4 weeks, or until you notice results. THRICE-A-DAY BLEND 20 drops avocado carrier oil 6 drops sandalwood essential oil 4 drops blue cypress essential oil 4 drops lavender essential oil 4 drops nutmeg essential oil To make the blend 1. Pour the avocado carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the sandalwood, blue cypress, lavender, and nutmeg essential oils to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. Pour the blend into a dark-colored glass bottle that closes tightly, and store the bottle in the refrigerator between uses. To use the blend 1. Using a cotton ball, apply 2 to 4 drops to skin affected by age spots. 2. Repeat this treatment 3 times a day for 2 weeks. Aging Skin Skin changes happen for all of us as we grow older. Here are some natural ways to help mature skin maintain its purity, tone, and firmness. CLEANSING PASTE 4 ounces almonds 3 ounces sweet almond carrier oil 2 ounces apple cider vinegar 2 ounces spring water 6 drops essential oil (good choices: bois de rose, borage seed, carrot, evening primrose, galbanum, lavender, myrrh, neroli, rose, or violet leaf) To make the blend 1. Grind the almonds in the glass jar of a blender. 2. Add the sweet almond carrier oil, apple cider vinegar, spring water, and essential oil to the ground almonds. 3. Blend the ingredients on high for at least 2 minutes to produce a smooth paste. To use the blend 1. Using a soft, natural-bristle complexion brush, apply the paste to your face. 2. After 30 seconds, rinse your face with cool water to remove the paste.2 TONING BLEND ½ cup white wine 10 drops rosemary essential oil 3 drops peppermint essential oil To make the blend 1. In a small saucepan, simmer the wine for 10 minutes. 2. Let the wine cool until tepid. 3. Pour the wine into a heatproof glass or ceramic bowl. 4. Add the rosemary and peppermint essential oils to the wine, and stir to combine. 5. Pour the mixture into a 4-ounce dark-colored glass bottle that closes tightly, and store the bottle in the refrigerator between uses. To use the blend 1. Using a cotton ball, smooth the toner over your face. 2. Use the toner within 6 months. MOISTURIZING BLEND ½ cup olive carrier oil ¼ cup apricot kernel carrier oil 30 drops carrot seed essential oil 20 drops rose hip seed essential oil To make the blend 1. Pour the olive and apricot kernel carrier oils into a glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the carrot seed and rose hip seed essential oils to the carrier oils. 3. Pour this blend into a 6-ounce dark-colored glass bottle that closes tightly, and store the bottle in the refrigerator between uses. To use the blend Using your fingertips, gently apply a small quantity of the blend to your face and neck once a day. Allergies (Seasonal) In the United States alone, more than 60 million people experience seasonal allergies. There are over-the-counter medications that do a good job of treating the symptoms, but at the cost of side effects that include dry mouth, drowsiness, and other discomforts. As an alternative, try these natural remedies. DIFFUSER TREATMENT 8 to 15 drops lavender essential oil 1. Add the lavender essential oil to the water in your diffuser. 2. Turn the diffuser on, and let it run for 15 minutes every 2 hours. 3. For continuous treatment, place the diffuser next to your bed, and let it run all night. NOSE-DAB BLEND ½ teaspoon olive carrier oil 2 drops peppermint essential oil 1. Pour the olive carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the peppermint essential oil to the olive oil, and stir to combine. 3. Using a cotton ball, dab the oil around your nostrils. DON’T BE A NEAT FREAK Be sure to dilute peppermint essential oil if you’re dabbing it around your nose to relieve allergy symptoms. If you use the oil neat, it will make the inflamed skin burn. Anemia A shortage of hemoglobin (healthy red blood cells) is a medical condition that may have a number of causes, including chronic or internal bleeding. Once your doctor has ruled out a serious illness as the source of the deficiency, anemia can be treated fairly reliably with changes in diet and the addition of nutritional supplements. Essential oils will be absorbed into your skin and can also help strengthen the production of red blood cells. NEAT TREATMENT 1 drop helichrysum, lemon, or lemongrass essential oil Using a cotton ball, apply the undiluted helichrysum essential oil to the soles of your feet and the inside of your wrists. NEAT BLEND 1 drop helichrysum essential oil 1 drop lemon essential oil 1 drop lemongrass oil 1. Add the helichrysum, lemon, and lemongrass essential oils in a small glass or ceramic bowl, and stir to combine. 2. Using cotton ball, apply the undiluted blend to the soles of your feet and the inside of your wrists. Anxiety Aromatherapy can be very effective with the anxiety that accompanies current happenings as well as thoughts about future circumstances and events. Several essential oils can help restore your sense of well-being if you get knocked off balance after interacting with coworkers or family members, or if you need to meet several important goals all at the same time. DIFFUSER TREATMENT 8 to 15 drops essential oil (good choices: bergamot, chamomile, Douglas fir, rose otto, or sandalwood) 1. Add the essential oil to the water in your diffuser. 2. Turn the diffuser on, and let it run for at least 15 minutes. BATH BLEND ½ cup milk 4 drops sandalwood essential oil 1 drop ylang-ylang essential oil 1. Pour the milk into a glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the sandalwood and ylang-ylang essential oils to the milk, and stir to combine. 3. Add this blend to a warm bath. SPRAY BLEND 1 ounce distilled water 3 drops lavender essential oil 1 drop clary sage essential oil 1 drop geranium essential oil 1 drop peppermint essential oil 1. Pour the distilled water into a small glass spray bottle. 2. Add the lavender, clary sage, geranium, and peppermint essential oils to the water, and shake well to blend. 3. Spray this blend at home, or use it in an area of your workplace where your coworkers won’t be exposed to the scent without their knowledge or permission. Arthritis An application of essential oils can bring relief to stiff, aching joints whenever and wherever the pain of arthritis strikes. NUMBING BLEND 1 teaspoon evening primrose carrier oil 10 drops wintergreen or clove essential oil 1. Pour the evening primrose carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the wintergreen essential oil to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. Using your fingertips, apply this blend to the affected area, and massage it into the skin. COOLING BLEND 1 teaspoon evening primrose carrier oil 6 drops Douglas fir essential oil 6 drops eucalyptus essential oil 1. Pour the evening primrose carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the Douglas fir and eucalyptus essential oils to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. Using your fingertips, apply this blend to the affected area, and massage it into the skin. NEAT TREATMENT 2 or 3 drops German chamomile, lemon, or tea tree essential oil Using a cotton ball, apply the undiluted German chamomile essential oil directly to the affected joint. Asthma For people with asthma, the struggle to breathe is worse than uncomfortable—it’s exhausting and can be quite frightening, whether the person suffering from this condition is a child or an adult. The search for relief has led to the development of rescue inhalers containing beta-agonist drugs, and other medications also play a role in controlling the symptoms of asthma. Essential oils, too, can relax stressed bronchial pathways while calming the anxiety that accompanies the fight for air. MASSAGE BLEND 2 tablespoons vegetable carrier oil 5 drops cypress essential oil 5 drops frankincense essential oil 5 drops geranium essential oil 1. Pour the vegetable carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the cypress, frankincense, and geranium essential oils to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. Use this blend to massage the back, moving your hands with firm but gentle strokes from the base of the spine up to the shoulders and then over the shoulders and down the sides. STEAM TREATMENT 3 cups hot water ¼ teaspoon eucalyptus, lavender, or peppermint essential oil 1. Pour the hot water into a glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the eucalyptus oil (it will remain on the water ’s surface). 3. Drape a towel over your head in such a way that it is also draped closely over the bowl. 4. Bend to hold your face over the bowl, and breathe deeply. Keep your eyes closed. 5. Remain in this position until the water cools, periodically lifting one side of the towel to take a breath of fresh air. 6. Repeat this treatment as desired, starting with a fresh bowl of hot water and perhaps a different essential oil. RUB 1 ounce vegetable carrier oil 6 drops lavender essential oil 4 drops geranium essential oil 1 drop marjoram essential oil 1 drop peppermint essential oil 1. Pour the vegetable carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the lavender, geranium, marjoram, and peppermint essential oils to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. At bedtime, rub this blend on the chest.3 Athlete’s Foot Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that can cause the skin of your feet to itch, peel, and flake. You can relieve the symptoms, and you can help the situation by wearing only cotton or wool socks. But the most effective approach is to kill the yeast that causes the infection. With essential oils, you can relieve the symptoms and treat the infection at the same time. DAB-ON BLEND 1 ounce carrier oil 6 drops tea tree essential oil 3 drops lavender essential oil 1. Pour the carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the tea tree and lavender essential oils to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. Using a cotton swab, dab this blend on the affected areas, especially between the toes, where the infection originates. 4. Put on a clean pair of cotton socks. 5. Repeat this treatment 3 times daily, and continue the treatment for at least 1 week after symptoms disappear. SOAK Warm water 1 cup salt 5 drops tea tree essential oil 1. Fill a large glass or ceramic bowl with warm water. The bowl should be large enough to hold both feet. 2. Pour the salt into a glass or ceramic bowl. 3. Add the tea tree essential oil to the salt, and stir to combine. 4. Add the oil mixture to the water, and stir to dissolve. 5. Soak your feet in this mixture for at least 5 minutes. 6. Remove your feet from the water, and dry them thoroughly. 7. Apply the dab-on blend for athlete’s foot (see here). 8. Repeat this treatment daily until symptoms disappear. POWDER 1 cup dry green clay (available in powdered form at natural foods stores) 10 drops tea tree essential oil 1. Put the clay in the glass jar of a blender that has an opening in the lid. 2. Add the tea tree essential oil 2 drops at a time through the blender ’s opening, pulsing the blender until all the oil has been added. 3. Turn the blender to the “mix” setting, and allow it to run for 1 minute so the clay and oil are thoroughly combined. 4. Apply this powder once a day to your feet, especially to the spaces between your toes. Back Pain Everyone has it, whether from hunching over a keyboard or standing behind a checkout counter and asking whether customers want paper or plastic bags. If you know that the source of your back pain is the normal wear and tear of life, and not a ruptured or herniated disk or a degenerative disease, a combination of massage, rest, and essential oils can get you feeling like your old self again. RUB 2 tablespoons avocado or olive carrier oil 10 drops marjoram essential oil 10 drops rosemary essential oil 10 drops sage essential oil 1. Pour the avocado carrier oil into a small glass or ceramic bowl. 2. Add the marjoram, rosemary, and sage essential oils to the carrier oil, and stir to combine. 3. Rub (or have someone rub) this blend into the muscles of your back. NEAT BLEND 10 drops basil essential oil 10 drops cypress essential oil 1. Using a dropper, transfer the basil and cypress essential oils into a small glass or ceramic bowl, and stir to combine. 2. Using your fingers, apply this undiluted blend