6 must-have essential oils & the best ways to use them

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essential oils and flower on the green divas


Integrate essential oils into your daily life

Essential oils are one of the most comprehensive modes of self-care in the world and one of our oldest forms of natural medicine. They’re beautiful, sensual, and evocative nature-born essences that come from powerful plants. You can integrate essential oils into your daily life, not only for their stunning range of health benefits but also for the wonderful way these natural scents help to connect us to our bodies, our breath, and our senses every day. When looking for a good source for essential oils, look for stores and websites that carry a large assortment of certified organic oils. Webstores that are run by an accredited aromatherapist can be an excellent way to buy individual oils, and they often carry ready-made blends.


6 Types of Oils to Use Every Day

Lavender. This all-purpose oil can be used as an anti-anxiety sleep aid, a muscle relaxant, a pain reliever, an anti-bacterial for wounds and burns, and as a topical treatment for dry skin, eczema, and insect bites.

Lemon. This antiseptic oil is your go-to for cleaning— you can even use it straight on a sponge as you wipe down your kitchen counters. Lemon is an ideal oil to combine with others as it will increase the therapeutic effect and always add a bright note.

Peppermint. Peppermint is a natural anti-inflammatory, working almost like liquid aspirin; one of the best for headaches. As an antiseptic, it can help clear our breathing passages, treat flu and colds, and help with digestive issues— from simple stomachaches to IBS and morning sickness.

Cedarwood. Cedarwood is a relaxing oil that helps hold scent on your body longer. For this reason, its scent is known as a base note, a term borrowed from perfumery. It is a great muscle relaxer. Cedarwood reduces fluid build-up (edema) and is often used in anti-cellulite blends.

Tea Tree. Tested in hospitals as an effective treatment for antibiotic-resistant viruses (like MRSA), tea tree oil is a must for hygiene while traveling. With powerful antifungal, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties, this oil helps ward of cold and flu symptoms and athlete’s foot and speeds up healing of burns, bites, and wounds.

Jojoba. (Golden or Clear) This fatty oil will serve as the base for your face, body, treatment, and massage oils. A variety of fatty oils, such as rosehip, argan, and avocado, can be combined with essential oils to create natural skin care products. Jojoba oil (actually a liquid wax) is the best for all skin types because it doesn’t require preservatives and is the closest match to the oil our body produces so it absorbs well, doesn’t clog pores, and balances oiliness. 

watch GD Meg’s 1 GD Minute video tutorial using essential oils to make non-toxic foaming hand soap

4 Ways to Use Essential Oils

1. Inhale. 

Inhaling an essential oil is the fastest and most effective way to experience the many therapeutic rewards that essential oils have to offer – and not just because of the smell. Every time we open a bottle of essential oil, it’s like letting the genie out of a bottle.

The longer an essential oil is exposed to the air, the stronger its aromatic vapor and thus its effect on us. Ultimately, with every inhalation we are moving the micro-particles of the essential oil further into our body. Essential oils can affect our moods, our sleep, our mental acuity, and even our level of pain.

Inhaling essential oils also taps into our sense of smell.

One final, but important, benefit to inhaling essential oils on a regular basis is stabilizing the endocrine system – which produces the body’s hormones that regulate everything from mood to sleep as well as the body’s response to stress.

Adults aren’t the only beneficiaries of inhaling essential oils. Kids and dogs, too, only need to inhale a tiny bit of essential oil to experience its positive effects.

watch GD Meg’s 1 GD Minute video tutorial on using essential oils to make non-toxic pre-poo spray that works!

2. Diffuse

Another way to deliver essential oils to your lungs is with a diffuser, which disperses oil throughout an enclosed space, making the air – both inside and outside of our bodies – more breathable.

Diffusing is useful for clearing the air, healing upper respiratory issues when you are sick, setting a mood, and/or preparing for sleep. That being said, diffused oils don’t stay in the air long. When you diffuse any oil, it’s recommended that you only diffuse it for 30 minutes to an hour, and then take an hour-long break before diffusing again.

Currently, scientists are exploring how diffused essential oils can detoxify and improve indoor air quality. As the studies continue, one thing is clear: essential oils are useful for their anti-microbial, anti-bacterial effect in places where people are sick or are, by necessity, in close proximity to each other, like a school, an airplane, mass transit, and of course your home.

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3. Apply

Applying essential oils externally, on the skin, is another way to create a significant internal effect within our bodies. Though absorption is less immediate than with inhalation, the effects of the oil are potent nonetheless. With topic application, you experience a time-release effect.

At the same time, while the oil is slowly absorbing, we are inhaling the oil’s micro-particles evaporating off our body. To take advantage of this dual action, essential oils applied to the face, neck, shoulders and chest are most effective.

Oils are great for protecting the health of our skin (inside and out) as well as regenerating tissues.

The most basic rule about applying essential oils is to target them right where you need them. For example, apply essential oils on a sprained ankle to speed recovery, on the chest to resolve a cough, or along the base of the skull to relieve tension headaches.The biggest benefit to targeting essential oils is that the journey to healing is shorter.

4. Heat

Essential oils penetrate deeper when applied with heat, but we never want to heat an essential oil over a flame because that will alter its chemical makeup. But you can combine heat and essential oils through hydrotherapy – using water to heal. Simply add essential oils before taking a hot shower or add them to a warm bath.

My favorite method for combining heat and essential oils is massage. With massage the friction of the therapist’s hands on the body creates heat – and the actual massage itself manipulates the soft tissues to drive the oils deeper in.

Finally, you can introduce heat by applying an oil topically to a targeted area and then covering that area with a hot compress or heating pad.


Listen to the latest full episode of the Green Divas Radio Show …

From ESSENTIAL OILS EVERY DAY: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty by Hope Gillerman (May, 2016). Published by HarperElixir, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

About the author / 


mariashriver.com is a community of women and men who believe in the power of inspiration. The power of storytelling. "We are Architects of Change: individuals who see a problem and instead of waiting for others to solve it, challenge ourselves to come up with a solution. We believe that each person has a story within them that can inspire another. And that those stories should be shared." #PassItForward & follow Maria on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn!

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