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The Best (and Worst) Ways to Use Essential Oils

In life, there have been many discoveries and inventions that we are, and should be, thankful for. Back in the years where research and development weren't so advanced as now, dwellers had to rely on natural resources like plants and herbs for medicines, or pulp from nuts to do their laundry by the river. While we are blessed to have pretty much everything we need from a nearby grocery or pharmacy, we sometimes tend to forget an important factor in the items we use daily.

Products these days are either laced with harsh chemicals or made with completely synthesized ingredients that do no help to our health, in fact, many household products are potential health hazards because of the number of chemicals in it.

Take your dishwashing liquid for example. These innocent-looking bottles of cleaning liquids which you thought were simple cleaning agents, actually contain Phosphates, Triclosan, SLS and fragrances. Such toxic ingredients are known to cause rashes, trigger allergic reactions and disrupt the body's natural thyroid and endocrine systems.

Back to the Past

Of course, not all discoveries are bad. One example is the discovery of essential oils, and through years of study and research, we are now aware of the wondrous benefits of essential oils. Essential oils are liquids are extracted from different parts of a plant through a variety of methods, primarily through distillation. Although small in amounts, each drop of essential oil contains extremely volatile chemical compounds. A single drop of 100% pure peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea! That said, you should really listen when we say that ingesting essential oils is the biggest mistake you can make.

How can I use essential oils to my benefit?

Knowing the properties and benefits of essential oils is one thing. But putting this knowledge into use and actually using the essential oils is another step forward. There are 3 best ways you can use essential oils to your benefit.

1. Inhalation

Inhalation, or as we call it, aromatherapy, is the most common way of putting your bottles of essential oils to use. Through aromatherapy, you are using the aromatic molecules from the essential oils to experience a therapeutic effect. Depending on the essential oil used, the therapeutic effects that result from this usage can range from an increase in productivity or a decrease in lethargy and tiredness. Devices such as candle burners and nebulisers are also used to diffuse the essential oils into the atmosphere.

2. Topical application

The second most common way of using essential oils is through topical application onto the skin. Because essential oils are naturally derived from plant sources, they also carry the DNA and benefits of the plant source. Some essential oils are antibacterial, while some are strong antioxidants. And then there are also essential oils that claim they are a little bit of everything. When mixed with a carrier oil for massage, these essential oils can provide skin benefits such as clearing up acne, reducing redness or lifting up sagging skin.

 3. D-I-Y household products

Essential oils can be used to create an entire range of household products from laundry detergents to dishwashing liquids. The list of products you can make using essential oils is endless, and since you already have essential oils lying around in your home, why not grab a few and start making your own household products? You can start with a simple room freshener by mixing some essential oils into a spray bottle of distilled water and spritz away, or if you like a challenge, you can experiment making handmade soaps or candles on your own.

With so many fun activities to do with essential oils, there might be some who take a step too far and use it for incorrect means, not knowing that the wrong usage of essential oils come with deadly consequences.

Here are the top 3 worst ways to use essential oils:

1. Ingestion

Nothing can be more serious than consuming essential oil - even if its a single drop. Remember how many cups of peppermint oil you'd be drinking if you swallowed a drop of peppermint oil? The misconception of ingesting essential oils stemmed from ill-educated essential oil salespersons and the word somehow got miscommunicated to unsuspecting consumers over the years. Thankfully, there are many articles you can find on the internet that reports the consequences of ingestion of essential oil. The next time you read on the internet that essential oils can be ingested, do not trust the source. You could end up with serious life-threatening illness like a liver failure in the long run.

2. On young children

In younger children, their immune system is not as developed as adults, so in general, they tend to be weaker, thus needing a smaller does of what adults are using. It is also the same case with essential oils. If you are using essential oils for topical application, you may do so on your child, but only with a small amount. Younger children are only recommended to use up to 0.5% dilution when mixing with a carrier oil. This means, for every 10ml of carrier oil that you use, you will only need 1 drop of essential oil at maximum.

3. Undiluted

Touching on the subject of topical application again, using essential oils undiluted is also one of the worst ways that can harm the natural barrier of your skin. Have you ever accidentally dripped essential oil onto any painted surface before? What happens if you don't wipe the essential oil immediately? After a few minutes, you'll start to see that the essential oil has corroded into the paint and by the time you wipe it off, you would have noticed that the paint has been wiped off too. Now let us shift our focus if that happens onto our skin. Our skin has a natural barrier that protects us from external pollutants like dirt and dust. But if we constantly subject ourselves to applying undiluted essential oils, over time, our skin layer will thin out, causing redness and skin irritation.