These days, it seems like essential oils are everywhere. As people get tired of putting chemicals and unnatural substances in their bodies, they are getting back to nature. As a mother of five active young children (read “accident prone”), I am constantly on the lookout for natural solutions. I am always willing to visit a doctor, but would rather try to prevent it first by using something natural, safe and effective. For my family that means essential oils.

There is a flood of information about essential oils and sometimes it can seem complicated and overwhelming. To make it easier to navigate, here are 10 things to know before using essential oils.

essential oils

All essential oils are NOT created equal. Essential oil companies add synthetics to their oils or dilute them with other carrier oils to cut costs. These oils can have harmful side effects and do not have the therapeutic value of pure, potent oils. It is also important that essential oils are harvested where the plant grows indigenously so that the oils have the highest therapeutic quality. I can grow lavender in my backyard, but it will not have the same therapeutic qualities of lavender that is grown in the high Alps of France with the right soil, temperature, rainfall, and climate. Before purchasing essential oils make sure they are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade.

Essential oils can be used aromatically. To use oils aromatically, you can place the oils in a diffuser (a device that works similar to a humidifier and diffuses the oils in the air). Diffusing oils cleans and purifies the air and is the fastest way to affect mood, as well as reduce stress and anxiety. You can also just remove the cap from the bottle and breathe deeply or place a drop of oil on your hands, rub them together, and breathe deeply to receive the aromatic benefits of essential oils.

>> Read more: 6 Scents that Relieve Stress

Essential oils can be used topically. Although many people are familiar with using essential oils aromatically, most people are somewhat less familiar with using oils topically or internally for health benefits. You can apply the oils directly to the area of discomfort or on the bottoms of your feet. The pores on your feet are some of the largest in the body, so it is a great way to get the oils into your body immediately. When an essential oil is placed on the bottoms of your feet, it takes only 30 seconds to reach your bloodstream. A single drop of an essential oil can service every cell in your body.

Essential oils can be used internally. You can add a drop to your water, put a drop under your tongue, or put a drop in a veggie cap to take internally. Let me be clear that this is specific to oils that are pure and potent and that are free of additives and fillers. Most essential oil companies do not produce oils that are pure and can be harmful if taken internally. Essential oils that are safe to use topically and internally will state this on the bottle and generally come with supplement facts. Oils labeled with “not for internal use” should only be used aromatically.

essential oil lavender

Education is key. There are tons of great resources available for new essential oil users. Books, websites, and even apps for your phone can tell you what oils and how much of an oil to use for your health concerns and wellness goals to have the most success.  One of my favorite sites is Everything Essential, which allows you to look up health concerns and also individual oils so that you get the best possible information as you care for your family. Some oils can cause skin sensitivity so be sure to educate yourself ahead of time. Oregano essential oil, for example, has amazing health benefits but is considered a “hot” oil. Applied topically, it may cause skin irritation if not diluted first with a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. You should also never put oils in your eyes, ears, or nose. There is no need to be fearful when using essential oils, just read all labels and do your research before using essential oils.

>> Read more: 39 Essential Oils for Your Health

Essential oils are safe. Completely natural or certified pure therapeutic grade oils are extremely safe. Essential oils are plant extracts that come from the leaves, roots, seeds, or flowers of a plant. Plants, just like our bodies, are carbon-based, so they work well together. Each plant has a defensive mechanism inside it to protect the plant from bacteria and fungus to ensure that the plant will survive. As essential oils are harvested, the plant’s defensive mechanism is captured in the essential oil through steam distillation, or through cold pressing. Essential oils are highly concentrated and much more powerful then herbs. Pure essential oils have no harmful side effects or addictions. They can be used on children, pregnant women, and the elderly.  If you are still concerned about the safety of pure essential oils, you can research more on PubMed or Aromatic Science.

Essential oils are effective. Essential oils are extremely effective and can penetrate cell walls to eliminate threats. They work fast, and unlike taking an over-the-counter (OTC) medication where you have to wait up to 25-30 minutes for them to work, essential oils work quickly and efficiently to support your body. Also, unlike OTC medications where your body may become immune to the medication and you end up popping more and more pills for them to be effective, you don’t become immune to the benefits of essential oils. They are effective every single time you use them. They also work to support, strengthen, and assist your body every single time… without all of the nasty side effects.

essential oil with orange

Essential oils are inexpensive. Certified pure therapeutic-grade essential oils are only pennies per drop. Because essential oils are highly concentrated, it only takes a small amount, usually one to three drops, to be effective. Diluted essential oils and cheap synthetic oils may seem less expensive, but much more is required to be effective, and synthetic essential oils have no true therapeutic value. Traditional healthcare, with co-pays, co-insurance, premiums, and deductibles, is more expensive and often comes with side effects compared to the cost of using essential oils. Most properly stored, pure essential oils will last as long as you do, so you are not having to throw away an expired medication.

Essential oils have emotional benefits. We know essential oils have great physical benefits and that they support and assist the body. However, often times the emotional benefits of essential oils are overlooked. Essential oils can and should be used to support and assist in good emotional health and wellbeing.  Essential oils can be used to benefit mood management. What you breathe affects your mood, and essential oils can be used to contribute and maintain positive overall emotional health.

>> Read more: 7 Signs You’re Eating Your Emotions

Essential oils play a small part. In the overall health and wellness of our families, essential oils play only a small part.  To learn about other important aspects in living healthy lives you can check out this article. In caring for ourselves and our families, it is important that we look at every aspect of health. Making sure that we eat right, drink enough water, exercise, get adequate rest, reduce stress, and avoid toxins are all key in living healthy and happy lives.

As more people become educated to the benefits of essential oils and get tired of putting chemicals, toxins, and unnatural substances in their bodies, essential oil usage will become even more mainstream. As a mother of five children, I have found great success in caring for my family physically and emotionally using these precious gifts of the earth.