Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Essential oils

Essential oils are extracted from plants by steam distillation, cold pressing and other methods. It can take several pounds of plant material to make just a few drops of oil, and these scent molecules are highly concentrated.

They’re a natural, powerful and flavorful addition to food. Add a drop or two of food-safe essential oils to a recipe to save time and effort spent chopping, slicing and preparing herbs and spices, or to replace artificial flavoring ingredients in recipes.


Aromatherapy uses essential oils to help the body heal and feel better. The oils are inhaled through the nose, or mixed with lotions or bath salts and applied to the skin. The oils can also be added to a vaporizer or diffuser in a room to distribute their scents.

Aromatherapy can improve a patient’s quality of life by making it easier for them to tolerate medical treatments. It also reduces stress and anxiety. It can even make pain less intense for people receiving dialysis or undergoing chemotherapy.

Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy, meaning that it works with a patient’s medical care. It’s important to work with a trained aromatherapist, nurse, doctor, physical therapist or massage therapist when using these products. They can teach you about how to use the oils safely. They can also recommend specific products and give you proper instructions for application and dilution. It’s also important to know that some oils can cause a reaction and should never be swallowed or used in place of medication.

Topical application

Many essential oils contain natural moisturizers that can help with dry skin. However, it is important to know that when applying essential oil topically, it must always be diluted first with a carrier oil like sweet almond or olive oil. If it is not diluted, it can cause irritation and even an allergic reaction on the skin.

Topical application of essential oils can be applied to the back of the neck, along the spine and energy meridians, pressure points, on the bottom of the feet (for pain relief), the chest and abdomen, bug bites and other areas of discomfort. In addition, many body care products use essential oils as the base for their formulations.

Essential oils have a low molecular weight, making them easily absorbed through the skin. This allows them to enter the bloodstream and affect the entire system. Depending on the essential oil used, it can provide an emotional and physical boost. Essential oils are also commonly used in massage.

Cooking with essential oils

Cooking with essential oils can be fun and delicious, and it’s an easy way to use them. But there are a few things to remember before you get started. First, only use high-quality oils. Look for 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils that are labeled as food grade and indicate that they’re safe to ingest.

If you’re unsure whether an oil is safe to eat, consult with a naturopath, certified aromatherapist or herbalist. You can also check for safety information on the bottle, as some manufacturers list a “supplement facts” section that includes safe internal usage information.

When cooking, it’s best to add the oil at the end of the recipe because high heat can degrade or destroy the beneficial properties of the oil. It’s also a good idea to use the oil in small amounts at first and gradually increase the dosage as you become more familiar with the flavor and strength of the oil.


While essential oils are used by millions of people worldwide – often without incident – they are powerful substances that need to be handled and stored properly. When diluted appropriately, they are a safe alternative to synthetic medications and offer many therapeutic properties.

Undiluted skin reactions are the most common adverse reaction to essential oils, with a dilution of 1 to 2 percent in a carrier oil for adult use being recommended. Children should be using much smaller amounts based on their age and weight.

Choosing a reputable, high-quality essential oil can make all the difference in how your body responds to them. Look for a label that provides details like country of origin, extraction method and chemical composition.

And if you should ever react badly to aromatherapy or topical application, or, heaven forbid, ingest an essential oil, call the non-profit organization Poison Control right away. The experts on the line can provide instructions for managing your symptoms at home or advise whether a visit to the emergency room is necessary.