Methods of Essential Oil Application
Application of essential oils is all about getting the millions of tiny chemical molecules found in each drop of oil into close proximity of the body’s cells. It is crucial to their effectiveness. Research has shown that essential oil components can support and enhance all the organ systems in our body.
Depending upon the chemical make-up of the oil, pure therapeutic quality oils may be applied topically to the skin, taken internally (ingested) or aromatically through direct inhalation. However, there are precautions you should take whenever using essential oils.
The central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) accesses the benefits of the oils fastest through inhalation. The shortest nerve pathway from the outside environment to the brain is through the olfactory nerve running from the nasal cavity to the brainstem.
Directly inhale the oil from the bottle. Place a drop or two of oil on a tissue or 100% cotton ball and inhale.
When diffusing, to preserve the therapeutic qualities of the oil avoid heating them. Using a flame or light bulb ring to heat the oil is not advised. Best results are had using a diffuser that creates a fine mist. Diffusion may act as an air filtration system by propelling oil molecules into the air where they may come in contact with random microscopic organisms floating around in the air (like dust particles that settle on your furniture.) In this way the chemical molecules of essential oils can remove odors from mold, cigarettes and animals while filling the air with a fresh, herbal aromatic scent.
Place several drops of oil into a nebulizing diffuser to disperse oil in a micro-fine vapor into the air. Some styles of nebulizing diffusers pull the oils directly from a bottle attached the diffuser. Various diffuser models have you place several drops of oil into water. Ultrasonic diffusers disperse the oils into a fine mist and moisturize the air at the same time. Water based diffusers use less oil than nebulizing models.
Humidifier: Fill a humidifier with water then place a tissue or cloth, sprinkled with a few drops of oil, in front of the escaping vapor. Some ultrasonic humidifiers will tolerate oils being dropped into the water. Essential oils have been known to eat away at plastic parts, so add them to the water reservoir at your own risk.
Steam: Place a few drops of oil in a pan of hot water, cover your head and the container with a towel, and breathe deeply and slowly. Of course keep your head a safe distance from the water and the hot container.
External Topical application
Your body is largely composed of fluids bathing all of the cells and circulating through blood and lymphatic vessels. The molecules in essential oils can enter the fluid flow and reach the cells everywhere. Research is showing essential oil molecules can activate receptor sites on cell membranes and affect the cellular metabolism.
The penetrating characteristic of essential oils greatly enhances their effectiveness. Essential oils penetrate the skin rather easily due to their small molecular size and fat solubility. They may penetrate a fingernail or toenail to reach underneath. The immediate effects of essential oils may last 20 minutes but effects may linger much longer. Molecules in the oil can circulate in body fluids and access areas most in need.
Essential oils can be applied directly to the crown of the head, to the temples, behind the ears, over vital organs, to the feet, and many other locations. Dilution with a carrier oil such as a vegetable oil or seed oil may be required.
Essential oils can be layered – successive application of multiple oils to the same area of skin. Used this way they may work more effectively as each oil imparts its own benefit.
Taking essential oils orally requires that the oil molecules pass through the digestive system prior to accessing the blood stream. Of course some of the molecules may pass through the lining of your mouth if you add the oils to a liquid such as water, however most will have to survive the acids in your stomach.
The FDA issues a listing of essential oils that are Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) for internal consumption. Some essential oil marketing companies package essential oils in soft gel capsules and vegetable capsules for internal use. Taken this way there is a better chance the oils will survive the stomach and be released in the small intestines where they can easily pass through the lining and enter the bloodstream.
Capsule: Vegetable capsules are readily available from health food stores. They come in various sizes. We have found the OO (double O) to be a good size. Add several drops of oil into an empty capsule and swallow with water.
Water, Juice or Milk: Add 1–2 drops of oil to a glass of water or rice milk. Keep in mind that essential oils do not mix with water and can irritate the mouth or throat.
Bread: Add 1–2 drops of oil on a piece of bread.
Cooking: Use oils in place of herbs and spices in your everyday cooking. Essential oils such as basil, thyme and oregano are many times more potent than the herbal leaves so be sure to use a small amount. We have found that dipping a toothpick in the oil and mixing that amount with the food is often sufficient. Avoid using a whole drop lest the flavor become overpowering.
Honey or Agave: Add 1–2 drops of essential oil into a teaspoon of honey or agave sweetener. This is a good method for young children or people who have difficulty swallowing capsules.
Direct: Drop directly under the tongue or rub on the gums. Dilution with a vegetable oil may be advisable with some oils.
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