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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Essentially Yours. Using and Understanding Essential Oils.

Your Home Pharmacy.
My father burned his hand on the woodstove when I was about fifteen. “Stace” he yelled upstairs, “what do you got for this”?

I ran downstairs with my bottle of lavender oil and put a neat drop on his hand. The pain almost instantaneously went away. He was shocked. The next time I went to my herb store my herb lady told me that some of my father’s farmer friends had been in to see her and had ordered a bunch of lavender oil. It always tickled me to think of these hardworking farmers out in the field smelling like little old ladies. But farmers are practical people and what works, works.

You see, many of the medicines out there, contact minuet portions of essential oils as their active ingredient but you have to look for them. Thymol is thyme oil. You’ll find myrrh oil in any application that involves mouth pain and that lavender that you see isn’t just for smell.

Essential oils are the power house of the herbal world. I’ve been using them for well over 30 years now for everything from health needs, cleaning and cooking. Before you go out and grab your first bottle there are a few things you need to really know before you use them.


1.      Essential oils are not extracts. They aren’t tinctures. They aren’t fragrance oils. They are the pure plant extract in a small bottle.
Don’t mistake them for each other. A Tbsp of an extract will add flavoring, but the same quantity in the essential oil could be deadly. Essential oils aren’t diluted so you are getting a very powerful dose in a few drops. Oils are used in drops, not Tbsp/Tsp. A good test to make sure that the oil you are getting is pure is to put a drop on a tissue. If it isn’t mixed with anything, when the tissue dries you won’t see the drop mark. If you do, it has something mixed in with it

2.      Their prices will vary wildly.
Because it takes more of one herb to make the oil or that herb is more expensive to grow, oils vary wildly in price. A 1/8 of a dram of Rose Absolute could easily run into $150+ dollars or more simply due to the expense of the oil. The same amount in peppermint or lime may be $3. Frankincense last I bought it was $22.50
for 1 oz.

3.      Most need carrier oil.Most typically cannot be used “Neat”.
Essential oils are very concentrated
essences. Because of this, many can cause chemical
burns if used directly. When oil is used directly, it is called using it “neat”. I advocate using carrier oil unless you know, for certain, that an oil can be used neat. One of
the only oil I generally use neat is lavender. Myrhh is another that I use directly on mouth pain to anesthetize an area, but spit out any additional saliva, you don’t want to swallow it.

4.      Contrary to popular belief, you can cook with essential oils.
I’ve done it many times, but again, it’s all about dosage. Instead of using Tbsp or tsps, you are using DROPS of an oil because of their concentration. Don't think a little is good so a lot will be better. A lot could be deadly. Oils are great in flavoring baked goods; they are good in marinades and can be used in a pinch when you discover you are out of the dried herb.

5.      Oils can be used for years.
Their efficiency will weaken but if put in a cool dry place out of the sun, they are golden.

My herbal “Bible” as it were is Valerie Woodworm’s, “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy”. I’ve used my first copy to the extent that it is literally falling apart and I had to purchase a second. Valerie’s book is excellent as it divides up the uses of oils health, home, and cooking and provides recipes for all. You literally can look up your ailment and find a recipe along with alternatives if you are out of an oil, and make up a massage oil to lessen the symptoms. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to be able to grab the book and get to work as it doesn’t bore you with tons of historical uses but is strictly a “how to” manual.*

Below are my heavy hitters that I use most frequently and believe most homes should have.

1.      Lavender.EVERY home should own this oil in a large quantity. Lavender is your first defense against burns both physical and chemical. It may not have the instaneous effect on you like my father (it doesn’t me) but it does lessen the burn, heals it and has very calmative effect. This oil was used during WWI to treat soldiers that suffered artillery burns.

2.      Myrrh. Perfect for any mouth pain. Look at your toothpaste, your mouthwash or your cold sore medicine. I guarantee you you’ll see this oil. It provides temporary relief for a mouth sore. Can be used neat in small quantities and I usually spit out any excess.

3.      Tea Tree. Tea Tree is a plant native to Australia and is incredibly antiseptic. It can be used to clean a wound or your kitchen. It’s a heavy hitter when it comes to cleaning.

4.      Eucalyptus. The cold suffer’s friend. Fumes help to open up breathing passages. Excellent in bathwater when one has a horrible cold.
5.      Peppermint. A close friend of eucalyptus, it also helps in bath oils when one is ill. Additionally, great in any tummy trouble. A little goes a long way. Peppermint candy is excellent when one is feeling a bit queasy.

6.      Lemon, Lime, Orange, Oregano, Clove, Nutmeg, Basil. Purely a good idea to have on hand for when you run out of the herb. Gotten me out of a pinch many time and these are relatively cheap. One or two drops are all you need.

* I am in no way associated with this book or author. This is a personal recommendation.



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