The essential guide to essential oils

Photo by Jess Dik
Photo by Jess Dik

The trending shift towards natural products and remedies has gained increasing speed over the past few years. With all the horror stories emerging on the news and internet about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, consumers are becoming more conscious, searching for products that can replace a trip to the doctors, or better yet, a bottle of Advil.

One of the newest trends in natural wellness is the use of essential oils and aromatherapy. Many consider essential oils as something only die-hard yogi’s and hipsters use, but before you rule them out completely, remember that Indigenous people around the world and their healers used these natural ingredients in their medicine— precursors to modern day drugs. Most vitamins and drugs found at the pharmacy contain these natural ingredients, so maybe those hipsters are actually onto something.

Essential oils can be used in many different ways.

“They can be used in aromatic diffusers for aromatherapy, through topical application…be added to a bath, some can be used in cooking, you can even dilute essential oils in a spray bottle with water and spray your furniture and carpets as an odor eliminator or bug repellant,” said Kristina, a natural wellness expert at Saje, who has been using essential oils for decades.

From headaches, cuts and burns, to depression, low libido, indigestion or insomnia, there is an essential oil that can help.

But for someone who is looking to get into the world of essential oils, starting out can be intimidating.

An easy start is eucalyptus. The oil of the eucalyptus tree has many properties that aid in soothing the lungs and respiratory system, making it ideal for relieving colds, sore throats and coughs. Traditionally, eucalyptus was used for disinfecting burns as well as wounds. It can also be used as a natural insecticide as bugs hate the smell of eucalyptus.

Another common oil is sandalwood. This oil is extracted from a sandalwood tree, out of its wooden heart, which can take up to 30 years to mature. It has mentally soothing properties that help relieve anxiety, insomnia due to stress, restlessness and even headaches. The natural sedative can also be used to treat dry and irritated skin when diluted in glycerin or a carrier oil.

If purchasing sandalwood products, however, try to find companies that use sustainable harvesting, as the sandalwood tree has become an endangered species due to overharvesting and deforestation.

The oil of the jasmine flower is rare and expensive, requiring over four million flowers for just one litre. It is a natural remedy in overcoming stress, balancing hormones, reducing menstrual pain, treating low libido and even anxiety and depression. It can be used in a diffuser for aromatherapy, combined with lotions, added to bath water or mixed with coconut oil and applied to the skin.

Patchouli might sound different to those unfamiliar with oils, but the smell of patchouli is often paired with the 60’s, being one of the top scents the hippies used. It’s one of the most versatile essential oils, commonly known as an aphrodisiac, but also used as an insect repellant, a natural deodorant and treating fungal growth. Patchouli can also treat many skin conditions such as eczema, dandruff, athletes foot, dendritis and acne.

Peppermint is one of the most common natural ingredients used in the medicinal world, being able to treat almost any body, health or mind ailment. It is one of the oldest medicinal herbs to be used by humans. The cooling sensation of peppermint when applied topically can relieve muscle and joint pain, but can also soothe digestive problems and spasms, as well as help with nausea, headaches, sinuses, itches like bug bites, serve as a bug repellant, help with acne and support ADHD/troubles focusing.

Purchasing essential oils isn’t difficult as there are several places here in K-W that sell them and can also offer information to those looking to start out. There is an abundance of information online, or speak with your local homeopath at any wellness store.

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