Essential Oils

By Jean Oswald RN CA

How many times has the smell of some “thing” immediately taken you back to an old memory or pleasant feeling?  The smell of wood burning in the fireplace can take me back to a morning forty-some years ago at our family campsite in the Adirondacks.  I remember walking along the path, inhaling the aroma of breakfast cooking.  In the same instant that I recall this, the memory fills me with a bittersweet nostalgic feeling.

limbicDo you know why this happens?  It’s because our noses are connected (through the ‘olfactory system’) to part of the brain – called the amygdala – that holds those “feeling memories” for us.  In fact, the sense of smell is the only one of our five senses that bypasses the “thinking” part of the brain and then brings forward a picture or feeling from the past. So as the aroma of an essential oil connects to the part of the brain where the amygdala lies, that ‘feeling memory’ is released.

This turns out to be very helpful in releasing stress or anxiety because the smell of an essential oil can bring a peaceful calm to the body and mind: it “unlocks” the feeling where it is being held in the body. You may already be familiar with the idea that “aromatherapy” can help relax you but essential oils also support each system in the body.

My goal is to help you understand how the natural gift of pure essential oils can bring you physical, mental, and emotional well-being.


What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the volatile liquids (they evaporate quickly) that have been distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes and seeds.  While essential oils have been used medicinally for thousands of years to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses, it’s only been in the last 70 years that medical researchers have been documenting their effects.  

When plant extracts are carefully distilled in a controlled environment (slowly, under low pressure and low heat) their healing properties are preserved and they can be used in many ways for healing in body, mind and spirit.

Essential oils carry oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells; they stimulate the regeneration of tissue, provide comfort and healing for all kinds of physical ailments, offer pleasing fragrances that improve mood, create a positive environment and heal emotional wounds.

If you learn only one thing about essential oils, KNOW that essential oils are able to bring benefit because they contain so many healing compounds inside; it’s the healing compounds (like neryl acetate or beta caryophylline) that support the body in bringing balance and healing.


Essential oil molecules are very small and easily absorbed. In fact these molecules are absorbed through each layer of the skin and dermiscan be detected in the bloodstream just minutes after application.

Where to buy Essential Oils

If you want to use essential oils therapeutically then you need to look further than your local ‘Natural Health Food’ store because their ‘perfume grade’ essential oils are not of a quality that can be used medicinally.  How do I know that they are ‘perfume grade?’ I know because the companies that sell them are not using laboratory science to check what’s inside the bottle.

Currently there are no standards in the United States for either the manufacturing of essential oils OR the safe use of them. Just one drop of pure plant extract will allow a company to say an entire bottle is pure.

Most essential oils sold in the US are ‘perfume grade’ oils. What I know for sure is that truly pure, unadulterated essential oils that can be used medicinally must be tested in a laboratory to identify the components inside the liquid. In a laboratory, a gas chromatograph (GC) will identify the components in an essential oil (like alpha pinene, beta myrcene or 1,8 cineole) and if there are any synthetic ingredients – the GC will reveal them.

Further analysis called the Mass Spectrometry (MS) will reveal how much of each constituent there is in each batch. In other words there might be 50% d-limonene in a batch of essential oils or there might only be 10% d-limonene content. That makes a difference in the therapeutic action of the oil.  It’s important to know that every single batch you purchase is tested with GCMS so that you are assured of its purity.

My favorite companies are Young Living and Aromatics International. You can purchase essential oils using either link to buy your essential oils. Please contact me if you’d like a wholesale account with Young Living so that I can guide you through the process of setting it up. There are other companies you can order from as well – online.  I urge you to verify with each company that they test each batch with the GCMS before bottling it for you..

Originally I was taught to use essential oils NEAT (pure/full-strength) on the skin with the idea that – that is “how the French” use essential oils. I followed protocols in doing this for 15 years – with my family, friends and clients. Only once in that time did I learn of any negative outcomes: a client broke out into a rash but it cleared up without complications in one day. Family members, friends, clients and I shared hundreds of stories about healings from using essential oils undiluted.

Then I took Advanced Aromatherapy Training from 2011 – 2013. I began to hear of the stress the kidneys and liver took on while trying to ‘clear’ essential oils from the body. Our kidneys and liver perform hundreds of functions every day and I had to ask how difficult it might be for any one person’s body to work this hard. (I still don’t have a definitive answer on this.) I was introduced to the idea that positive effects are experienced from essential oils at even small dilutions! As I created blends at these lower dilutions (2-10%) and found them to be effective for my clients, I decided I would be more cautious in the future and change the way I used oils and gave them to clients and family. My experience these last seven years has been that dilutions of essential oils in a carrier are not only impressive, but the blends have their own synergistic action! A wide variety of carriers (coconut oil, hydrosols, jojoba and others) offer their own therapeutic activity as well.

Do we need to be concerned about Side Effects?

For the most part the answer is no. Side effects include more energy, positive mood, quicker recoveries from infections, surgeries, and injuries, less pain, more hope, etc. There is an innate wisdom in these special plants from Nature.  In simple terms, essential oils stimulate the body to return to normal function. In fact, essential oils are much safer than pharmaceutical prescriptions and cleaning agents under your sink are far more toxic than essential oils. But there are cautions to keep in mind when using essential oils!


Guidelines for Safe use of Essential Oils:

  1. Toxicity to the point of death with essential oils occurs only in massive overdosing.  The bottles of essential oils you are likely to buy have single-drop dispensers to prevent overdosing.
  2. Dilute essential oils in a carrier (like jojoba or olive oil) before applying them to the skin. Typically we use between 5-18 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil. If an undiluted essential oil contacts your skin and you experience a tingling or burning sensation then apply a carrier oil to the affected area and massage it into the skin.
  3. It is unnecessary to use essential oils directly on infants under 2 months. Instead you can diffuse oils for short periods in the ultrasonic diffusersame room as a baby. Or you can apply essential oils to yourself and hold the baby in such a way that he/she will breathe in the aroma of the oils.
  4. For children over 5, elders and those with serious health conditions, essential oils need to be diluted to a maximum of 1%, (a total of 5-6 drops of essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil)
  5. The use of certain essential oils should be avoided in people with a tendency toward seizures (epileptics) – essential oils such as:
    1. Spanish Sage, Rosemary ct camphor, Lavandin and Spike Lavender (essential oils rich in camphor )
    2. Fennel
    3. Hyssop
  6. Using essential oils during pregnancy and breast-feeding is safest under the guidance of a certified aromatherapist or health professional that is knowledgeable about essential oils
  7. Angelica and citrus oils like Lemon, Lime, Orange, Bergamot, Tangerine, and Grapefruit are photosensitive and can cause skin discoloration if exposed to direct sunlight or UV rays within 1-2 days after application.
  8. Keep essential oils away from the eyes. If eyes are exposed to an essential oil DO NOT flush with water. That will only worsen the problem. Use a drop of olive oil to flush the essential oil out. Keep eyes closed for a few minutes and the sting will dissipate
  9. Never put essential oils directly into the ears. You can use a drop or two of essential oil on a cotton ball to expose the inside of the ear to essential oils if needed.
  10. When using essential oils in the bathwater, first dilute 5-6 drops in a ¼ cup of bath salts/soda or milk (full fat). Undiluted essential oils in the bath can cause skin irritation.

Keep your essential oils in a cold, dark place (refrigeration keeps them fresher longer), tightly closed and pay attention to expiration dates. Expired essential oils will smell “off” and irritate the skin. Therapeutic properties are diminished in expired oils.


I recommend essential oils to clients all the time, for all kinds of reasons. Your consultation with me always includes a free custom-made essential oil blend of some kind. But you can also click on my Botanical Blessings page for other basic products I sell.

Thank you!

With love,


Disclaimer: Any products mentioned, techniques, personal usage tips or other information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prescribe for, or cure any disease, ailment or injury to the body and no responsibility is accepted for such usage. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The decision to use or not to use any of this information is the sole responsibility of the reader.

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