I’ve only been on the essential oils bandwagon for a few months now, but I’m a complete convert. I tend to be a very skeptical person and when a friend told tales of the wondrous things her little bottle of lemon essential oil could do, I rolled my eyes. Not only were there too many varieties for any human to comprehend but they seemed quite expensive.
Eventually, I decided to purchase just one bottle and once I began using it on occasion, I realized just how far a single drop or two will go. One bottle might last several months or longer. I’ve been adding to my collection each month, and here is what I have.
- Peppermint oil — I bought this because if there’s one ailment of my kids that’s hardest to treat, it’s the tummy-ache. Did they eat something bad? Did they eat too much? Are they eating too little? Did they forget to go poop? Is it their appendix? I can easily treat a cough or the sniffles, but tummy aches are, well, a pain to deal with. A drop of peppermint oil in a small glass of water can help soothe the stomach, and it’s also handy for fungal infections — not that my kids would ever have anything to do with fungus! Naturally, as luck would have it, neither kid has had a stomach ache since I bought the oil.
- Eucalyptus oil — I don’t remember why I bought eucalyptus oil originally, but I use it often as a topical pain reliever. Several weeks ago I developed some pain on top of my left foot. It’s an odd place for a patch of burning pain, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. One day I spread a drop or two of eucalyptus oil over the area, and the pain was gone, immediately. It has worked every time since. We’ve put a few drops in our humidifiers at night as well, and is on my short list of remedies the next time one of the kids has an ear ache.
Lavender oil — This is one of the most versatile of oils, and I’ve used it to relieve my son’s headache one night by rubbing a bit on both temples and my daughter has used it to help her get to sleep. Its uses are numerous: antiseptic, antifungal (again, with the fungus!), analgesic, relaxant, anti-inflammatory, and may even reduce cholesterol levels.
- Thieves oil — This is an interesting oil blend. There’s a legend from the days of the Black Plague that a group of thieves were caught robbing the dead bodies of plague victims. Somehow, they didn’t get sick and confessed that they rubbed an oil concoction over their bodies. It was a mixture of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary. Friends swear by this oil, and Roxanne Griswold of Ready Made Resources has written about it in an article on her blog. It has been lab-tested and proven to kill airborne microorganisms on contact. It’s useful as an antiviral treatment, an antiseptic and antibacterial, and to treat infections. Plus, it smells really, really good!
- Lemon oil –– This oil can strengthen the immune system and is energizing. A study in 1995 found that citrus fragrances boost immunity, relaxation and decrease depression. I’ve also read that a glass of lemon water each day is a great boost to overall health, and a drop of this essential oil in water is a good substitute for a squeeze of fresh lemon. It’s also a powerful antiseptic.
- Wintergreen — I wanted an oil that would effectively soothe my husband’s sore muscles, which have a tendency to turn into painful spasms. Poor guy. A few drops of wintergreen oil can be diluted with another oil (a pure vegetable oil, for example), and I have a massage oil to rival Icy Hot. This winter if any of us come down with respiratory problems, this oil is an effective treatment when used with a diffuser or vaporizer.
- Orange blossom — I originally bought this just as a scent to add to my homemade cleaning mixtures. The label said it was, “cheering,” and if there’s anything I need when I’m cleaning, it’s cheer. It can also be used to heal scar tissue and for digestive problems.
The oils on my Wish List are: oregano, thyme, clove, grapefruit seed, and tea tree. If you’re just starting out, think about what physical ailment is most common around your house and buy an oil that addresses that issue. Another strategy is to start buying the oils that are most versatile, such as lavender and peppermint.
As far as application goes, some of the oils can be applied directly to the skin but some are too intense, such as wintergreen. All essential oils can be used with a diffuser, a vaporizer, or mixed with another oil.
Why all the sudden interest in essential oils? Well, it could be just a fad for some people, but I expect our health care system to become far more expensive than it is now and far less accessible. Soon, the days of a quick trip to the pediatrician’s office will be a thing of the past due to either very long waiting periods or prohibitive prices. It will be up to us to have a foundation of knowledge when it comes to first aid and taking care of basic ailments.
Essential oils, herbs, and home remedies are easy to learn and the supplies are easy to acquire, at least for now. Plus, it’s kind of fun to try out a new oil when someone has a headache or sore muscles. In most cases, these alternative remedies can’t cause any harm and often, they can do a great deal of good.