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Inhale s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y and think of the scent of freshly mowed grass, coffee beans, lavender or bread baking in the oven. Do any of these make you smile or evoke a strong memory? There’s a scientific reason scents are so powerful in our lives: our sense of smell is the only one of our senses with a direct pathway to our brain’s emotional and memory centers. This fact might explain why aromatherapy has grown more popular year after year.
This post is written as a primer for those new to essential oils and aromatherapy.
If you’re already familiar, you may want to…
What Are Essential Oils + How Are They Used?
Essential oils are aromatic compounds extracted from the flowers, bark, leaves or fruit of plants — similar to how olives are pressed to make olive oil. It can take many pounds of a plant extract to make one small bottle of essential oil. The concentrated oils are then used in aromatherapy — which can be achieved by inhaling, diffusing into the air or applying diluted oils to your skin.
Large-scale research on the therapeutic effects of essential oils is limited, but there have been countless smaller studies showing some can help improve our mood or alleviate health conditions. Lavender is one oil that has been studied extensively and is shown to support relaxation, reduce pain and help with sleep.
It’s interesting that essential oils have been used for nearly 6,000 thousand years by many different cultures, including by the ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians and Greeks — and starting in the 1900s, by Westerners.
Today, essential oils have gone mainstream; you’ll find them in use in day spas, yoga studios and even in hospitals, where they’re offered as a complementary therapy to help alleviate stress, nausea and pain. (Read how the Mayo Clinic uses essential oils for some patients.)
Can Essential Oils Calm Anxiety and Relieve Stress?
Today, I’m sharing two essential oil roller blends I created to help with stress and anxiety. I chose affordable oils that have long been recognized by certified aromatherapists for their calming, soothing and in some cases, mild sedative effects.
Since we all respond differently to essential oils, I can’t promise these blends will work for you. I’m just excited to share something that has helped me! If you suffer from stress or anxiety — think of this as one small tool to add to your toolbox.
Gather Your Supplies for Essential Oil Roller Blends
Small Glass Roller Bottles
Choose a Carrier Oil
One key thing to know before you start: you should not put undiluted essential oils directly on your skin because they can cause irritation. That’s why we need a carrier oil to dilute the essential oils and “carry” them to your skin.
It’s best to choose a carrier oil with little or no scent. I chose jojoba oil because I had it on hand. But you could use apricot kernel, argan, sweet almond, fractionated coconut, grapeseed or any other neutral oil. (Note: Except in a diffuser, water isn’t a suitable carrier for essential oils.)
Buy Quality Essential Oils
It’s important to buy high quality essential oils. Steer clear of those sold by multi-level-marketing companies — since they have a big markup and make dubious claims. There are also a number of cheap oils on the market that are adulterated with unknown fillers, which means they won’t work like pure oils. Here are a couple of quick tips to help you choose quality oils:
- Look at the Label: It should have the Latin name of the plant and the country where the plant was cultivated.
- Choose dark-colored glass containers: The dark-colored bottles protect the oils from degradation due to light.
- Evaluate the company: Buy essential oils from a reputable company that has been around several years. Since I use essential oils in soapmaking, I prefer to get mine from vendors that supply product data sheets, which show the results of purity tests on the oils.
I buy essential oils from a number of reputable vendors, including Plant Therapy and Mountain Rose Herbs. NOW brand, available on Amazon and at major retailers, works okay, too. [Some question their purity, but I’ve never noticed an issue when using them.]
Are you ready to get started?
Essential Oil Safety Tips
1.) Essential oils are strong and should be diluted in a carrier oil before putting them directly on your skin. The recipes above use a safe dilution rate for 10 ml of carrier oil. There are safe dilution charts available on the internet for different quantities of carrier oil.
2.) Use caution around children and pets. Some oils are not considered kid-safe; others can be used at lower doses for kids. Be cautious using the oils around pets, as they can be sensitive to them. Reputable vendors list precautions for each oil on their websites.
3.) Some oils, like bergamot, can cause photo sensitivity. Avoid applying them to your skin and then spending too much time in the sun as they can cause sunburns.
4.) Never ingest essential oils. Some are marketed as food grade and promoted as safe to add to food and drinks. This is a misnomer that can be dangerous. The FDA doesn’t regulate or classify any essential oils as food grade. There are cases when essential oils can be used internally, but this should only be done under the supervision of a highly trained professional.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Have you used essential oils before? Do you plan to give these recipes a try? Any questions, be sure to let me know.
I am not a licensed nutritionist, medical professional or cosmetics expert. The information provided on Honest + Simple is for general informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been been evaluated by the Food + Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease. Before making decisions about your health or other concerns, please consult a qualified professional and do not rely on this website for medical advice.