Updated: Nov 27, 2020
My vocal teacher introduced me to essential oils for the first time a few years ago, and I haven't looked back since. The funny thing was that they were introduced to me indirectly. My boyfriend, who sat through one of my lessons, felt the onset of a headache (not my singing's fault, I swear!). My teacher paused the lesson to grab a roll-on bottle of doTerra peppermint essential oil, and she advised him to apply the peppermint on his temples to reduce the discomfort associated with the headache. After 10 minutes, my boyfriend said that the symptoms were totally gone. Hmmm... At the time I didn't totally believe that the peppermint alleviated his headache, but at least we know the peppermint oil didn't exacerbate it.
Getting into essential oils was a process for me. I started with aromatherapy, which didn't happen until several months after the peppermint oil incident. When I noticed a significant shift in my mood from diffusing, I became curious as to what else they could do. It was like opening up Pandora's box, and I eventually became a doTerra wellness advocate.
Before you take a dive into essential oils, here are some tips:
Know what essential oils are. They're the natural oils extracted through distillation or cold pressing from bark, flowers, roots, etc. Not only do you get the strong aroma and flavor, the extract is concentrated with the healing properties of that plant or parts of plants.
Know the quality. Essential oils are not created equally. I use doTerra, because it's a reputable brand that claims their oils are "Therapeutic grade." The way I see it, if the oils are not certified pure and advised not to be ingested or used topically, why bother inhaling it in for aromatherapy? doTerra advises which oils are considerably safe for multi-uses, but of course, use at your discretion.
Start small then expand. There's no reason to buy 100s of essential oils when you're just getting acquainted with them. doTerra has an affordable introduction kit ($26) with three of the standard, must-have essential oils: lavender, lemon, and peppermint.
Establish a relationship with the oil(s). Aromatherapy is a great way to start building your connection. Get a $20 diffuser from Amazon. Find out how each oil makes you feel. Does the lemon help uplift your mood? Does the lavender reduce feelings of tension and stress? Does the peppermint help you concentrate and stay focused? And then for fun, do a blend with 2 or all 3!
Research. Did you know that some essential oils make great household cleaners because of their antimicrobial and antibacterial properties? There are recipes that use essential oils for flavoring. If you're feeling crafty and creative, try a DIY soap or candle project with essential oils. When you're ready to incorporate other uses for them, know the properties and uses of the oils in order to maximize the benefits. doTerra's website is an excellent resource, and I typically refer to Dr. Axe and the Sustainable Baby Steps websites to cross reference the information. I also have doTerra's Essential Life book within arm's length. It's a comprehensive guide on how essential oils can support basically everything you can think of.
Know your sensitivities. Because the essential oils are concentrated, one drop goes a long way. If you have skin sensitivities, in particular, use a carrier oil like fractionated coconut, olive, or jojoba oil. Also read the labels, because some of the oils can cause skin sensitivity when you're in direct sunlight. Most importantly, be mindful of how the essential oils may affect the well-being of others in your household including children and pets! There are some oils that may be harmful to animals, so please. do. research.
Don't use them to replace medical treatment. As a word of caution, the FDA disclaimer is that the essential oils are "not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.” Use essential oils to support your wellness or maintain an already healthy lifestyle.