Contributor: Cristin Smith
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
Many of us have heard of, and even use, essential oils. But what are they really? How can they benefit our mind, body, and spirit throughout the seasons? We’re here to give you some basic information about how to use essential oils and how specific oils can help you gain energy to prepare you for the intensity of Summer!
Essential oils are liquids distilled from various parts of different plants (seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruit, and the like). What makes them “essential” are two things: they are volatile (they evaporate), and they are soluble with other oils and fats.
These oils are so beneficial because of their natural high concentration. While all essential oils have different chemical make-ups, a few are known to cross the blood-brain barrier, which can have a powerful effect on the treatments of brain diseases and disorders. Sandalwood and Frankincense are just two oils that have that ability. Other oils have the ability to affect memory and emotions, and some can treat chronic pain or depression. Still others can cleanse different body systems, or simply soothe and clear the mind.
Essential oils are typically used in three different ways (topically, aromatically, or internally), and each oil has its specific ways to be used. Some may need to be diluted with coconut or olive oil before being applied. Using a diffuser is an effectual way to reduce chemicals in the air, as well as treat the lungs and sinuses. Common ways of ingesting* oils are sublingually (a drop or two under the tongue), in capsules, in water or milk, and as an additive to cooking. Now, let’s take a closer look at a few essentials that may be beneficial to you this season:
Lime: Lime is revitalizing and uplifting. It can be used for anxiety, clarity of thought, cleansing of the lymphatic system, water and air purification, and providing a sense of well-being. As we begin Summer, lime can combat exhaustion and listlessness. Add lime to a bath to invigorate yourself, or rub two drops in your palms and inhale deeply to awaken your spirit.
Clove: Clove encourages your body to heal. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and holds antioxidant properties. It has been historically used to treat wounds, as it draws infection from tissues. It is also beneficial for digestive upsets and toothache, can help treat acne, bad breath, insect bites, arthritis, and can help you quit smoking (put a drop on your tongue to remove the desire to smoke). Clove is also a mental stimulant, improves memory, and promotes feelings of courage and protection. Dilute 1:1 with a carrier oil and rub directly on wounds or bites. Use caution when diffusing; inhaling deeply may irritate the nasal membranes.
Fennel: Fennel can get you through even your most stressful days. It supports the digestive system and pancreas, will revitalize the skin, and cleanse toxins from the body. Fennel has long been used to provide strength, courage, and longevity. Take a drop sublingually, or add to steamed rice and vegetables with dinner. It has a strong, invigorating flavor.
*Please refer to the FDA’s GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe for human consumption) list before consuming any essential oils.