Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile plant extracts obtained through different extraction methods. A few popular elixirs (essential oils) include rose oil (derived from actual rose petals), lavender oil, and tea tree oil.
However, there are actually thousands of known essential oils with about 300 available commercially, all of which boast different health and wellness benefits.
Essential oil therapy (Aromatherapy) can be defined as the medicinal use of naturally extracted plant aromas to promote physical and emotional well-being. Essential oil extracts have many uses, from treating burns and soothing skin to alleviating stress and relaxing the mind.
How Are Essential Oils Used?
Essential oils can be used in many ways; it can be diffused for inhalation, applied topically, or used for cleaning. It can also be used in skin care. While there are several oils that may aid in healing, toning, and brightening skin, there are also elixirs that can spark serious skin reactions and even chemical burns due to allergies and sunlight toxicity.
Photo-toxic essential oils include bergamot and citruses, like lime and lemon. They should not be used at more than 0.5 percent on skin exposed to any amount of sunlight. Sometimes, the type of extraction used can actually determine whether a certain essential oil becomes phototoxic or not.
Phototoxic reactions can be pretty nasty, and it is recommended that you always using proper dilution and doing a skin patch test first.
Different Oils Have Different Uses And Effects
Basil Essential Oil:
- Used to sharpen concentration
- May relieve headaches and migraines.
- It can also alleviate some of the symptoms of depression but should be avoided during pregnancy.
Bergamot Essential Oil:
- Useful for the urinary tract and digestive tract,
- May help relieve skin problems, including those caused by stress and chicken pox, when combined with eucalyptus oil.
Black Pepper Essential Oil:
- This is commonly used for stimulating the circulation,
- Used for muscular aches and pains, and bruises.
- It is used to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility when combined with ginger essential oil
Rosemary Essential Oil:
- This oil may benefit the nervous and circulatory systems.
Chamomile Essential Oil:
- Chamomile oil can treat eczema.
Clove Essential Oil:
- This is a topical analgesic, or painkiller, that is commonly used for a toothache.
- It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties,
- Can also be used as an antispasmodic antiemetic, for preventing vomiting and nausea, and
- Used as a carminative, for preventing gas in the gut.
Citronella Essential Oil:
- Acts as an insect repellent
Geranium Essential Oil:
- Can be used to reduce stress;
- Can also be used as a mosquito repellant, and
- Used for skin problems.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil:
- It can help relieve the airways during a cold or flu.
Jasmine Essential Oil:
- Jasmine oil has been described as an aphrodisiac that might increase penile blood flow,
- Research has shown that the scent of jasmine increases beta waves, which are linked to alertness.
Lavender Essential Oil:
- It is said to relieve a headache and migraine symptoms,
- can also be used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns and
- To enhance relaxation and sleep.
Lemon Essential Oil:
- Improve mood, and
- Help relieve the symptoms of stress and depression.
Rosemary Essential Oil:
- may promote hair growth,
- boost memory,
- prevent muscle spasms, and
- Support the circulatory and nervous systems.
Tea Tree Essential Oil:
- Have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities.
- Commonly used in shampoos and skin care products, to treat acne, burns, and bites.
- Can be used in mouth rinses but it should never be swallowed, as it is toxic.
Sandalwood Essential Oil:
- Believed by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.
Yarrow Essential Oil:
- Used to treat symptoms of cold and flu, and
- Help reduce joint inflammation.
Thyme Essential Oil:
- Help reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.
Safe Essential Oils for Babies
On babies older than 3 months, some essential oils can be used to help encourage sleep, calm anxiety, and even relieve symptoms of certain conditions like colic. However, before applying essential oils to babies, it’s important to understand proper dilution ratios and application methods.
Because essential oils are widely available today, only buy from trusted vendors like Amazon, and check product labels to make sure you are using pure, authentic, unadulterated essential oils. (Check out these essential oils available on Amazon)
- Gentle essential oils that can be beneficial for babies who have trouble sleeping.
- Chamomile has natural soothing effects and is traditionally used to treat insomnia in babies and adults.
- Chamomile, along with lavender, can relieve symptoms of colic.
- Has also been shown to help anxiety and depression, and can uplift a fussy baby’s spirits.
Distilled Lemon (Citrus Limon)
- Can help lift energy and mood,
- Great for a post-nap wakeup call.
Dill (Anethum Sowa)
- Calming, antispasmodic oil that can help soothe indigestion. Dilute dill in a ratio of 1 drop per teaspoon of water or oil, blend thoroughly, and massage the mixture onto a baby’s skin.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Radiata)
- Eucalyptus is a natural expectorant that can help unclog respiratory congestion.
- Great during the cold winter months.
- Note: Eucalyptus Radiata is a different species than the commonly found Eucalyptus globulus. While children and infants should use Eucalyptus radiate, Eucalyptus globulus is safe for adults,
Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia)
- Tea tree is a natural antimicrobial, antifungal, and disinfectant.
- Adding a few drops of tea tree to diluting oil can help with diaper rash and fungal infections.
- Tea tree is stronger oil that can be harsh on the skin, so it should be avoided on babies younger than 6 months old and carefully patch-tested on older infants.
Dilution is especially important for infants and young children. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends a safe dilution ratio of 0.5 to 1 percent, for babies older than 3 months compared to a 2.5 to 10 percent dilution for adults.
Because of the sensitive skin of babies, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians notes that essential oils should not be used at all on infants under 3 months old.
Even when diluted, essential oils can still cause skin irritation and sun sensitivity (phototoxicity).
It’s recommended that you first carry a patch test (spot test) on the skin, with each new oil.
To Perform A Patch Test:
- Apply a small amount of diluted essential oil to a baby’s leg or arm.
- Wait for 24 hours to see if there is a reaction.
If a reaction occurs (a reaction would likely cause redness, inflammation, or be painful to the touch), discontinue use, but if no reaction occurs, it is likely safe to apply the essential oil on your baby.
Some essential oils e.g. birch or wintergreen, which are rich in methyl salicylate and peppermint, should simply be avoided on babies.
Essential oils should never be used internally by children or infants and should be kept out of the reach of infants to avoid accidental ingestion.
Essential Oils For Babies