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Let’s face it, this year has been…a lot (and that is putting it mildly). We have all had to adjust to a reality most of us have never experienced. We have had a pandemic, heartbreaking social justice issues, an election that won’t quit, oh and MURDER HORNETS. It is safe to say we all need to take special time for self-care and relaxation. Although it is not a cure-all, essential oils might be the healthier bottles to reach for right now.
Cultures around the world have used essential oils for aromatherapy for millennia. Aromatherapy is a holistic healing practice that uses the inhaled aromas of natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes called essential oil therapy, it is thought that the aromas in these oils activate smell receptors in your nose, which sends signals to your brain to promote both physical and emotional health.
Aromatherapy is thought of as both an art and a science. Recently, aromatherapy has gained more recognition in the fields of science and research has confirmed the value of essential oils through clinical trials. Some studies indicate that there's a benefit to using essential oils to alleviate conditions such as:
Apart from the traditional use of essential oils for aromatherapy, they are also are useful for many other everyday functions too. Here are five applications that you might not have been aware of.
There are several schools of therapy concerning essential oils and memory assistance. Many begin with the premise that olfactory (smell-oriented) memories are some of the strongest that we carry with us. Surprisingly when comparing the place that smell usually stands in our sensory hierarchy! The strong fragrance of a specific essential oil can be used to transport us across space and time, to, say, a garden you used to frequent, a kitchen you spent time in as a child, or a building made of a specifically fragrant type of wood.
More technically, a 2009 Japanese study studied 28 elderly people, 17 of whom had Alzheimer’s disease, a notoriously dangerous neurodegenerative disease that can often result in severe memory impairment. After just a month-long therapeutic program of rosemary and lavender essential oils in the morning, and lavender and orange in the evening, all 28 patients achieved improved scores on almost all of the cognitive and diagnostic tests given to them.
Ok, so of course we had to add this in here. Hand Sanitizer has become an everyday essential in recent times, but let’s be honest: most of the big hand sanitizer brands don’t smell that great and leave your hands sticky. OrcaSong’s small-batch hand sanitizers protect from germs and dryness and are enhanced with organic, farm-grown essential oils for fragrance.
It’s not just about the smell either: Lavender is known to have anti-viral and disinfectant properties. Here is a DIY hand sanitizer recipe that adds Lavender Essential Oil. Lavender oil is extremely useful, beneficial and versatile. It can be used to therapeutically treat a variety of ailments; contains additional antibiotic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties; is safe for most all adults; and has a pleasant aroma and calming qualities.
There are many things that can be done to boost immunity. Getting quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and reducing our toxin load are all things that have a big impact on our immunity. However, another way we can support the immune system is to add essential oils to our daily regimen. In fact, there are numerous essential oils that can be used for immunity.
Essential orange oil contains high levels of the terpene limonene, which has been extensively researched and confirmed to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant (free radical reducing), anticarcinogenic, antihyperalgesic (for pain disorders) antidiabetic, antiviral, and gastroprotective (to prevent gastric ulcers) properties. It’s usually a pretty safe bet that lavender will be beneficial for most situations as well. It’s an incredibly versatile oil that is useful for just about anything. Specifically for immunity, lavender is beneficial since it can not only help induce a good night’s rest—encouraging your body to get the restorative sleep it needs—but is also commonly used for reducing stress as well. Other essential oils that are beneficial for immunity include lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree and oregano.
4. Repelling Insects (Recipe Included)
Citronella, known for its effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes when reapplied regularly, isn’t the only essential oil that can keep biting insects away. Eucalyptus, lavender, and lemongrass oils repel fleas and other pests as well.
Keep in mind the potential adverse effects of topical essential oil administration. These oils are best used in conjunction and mixed into a diluting solvent. One simple but effective recipe for outdoor insect repellent suggests a mixture of:
Just mix the oils, and then mix again into the coconut oil. After the salve has hardened, scoop some out and spread it on any exposed skin before venturing into the great outdoors.
Rosemary oil and cedarwood oil stimulates the follicles and scalp respectively, which has been shown to reduce hair loss in some individuals. Lavender oil acts more like a conditioner, helping to give hair a shine as well as reduce dandruff.
You’ve likely seen commercial products touting their constituent oils as giving hair more shine, body and fragrance. You want to pay attention to the quality of the oil in these products though. The quality of essential oils on the market varies greatly, from pure essential oils to those diluted with less expensive ingredients. And because there's no regulation, the label may not even list everything that's in the bottle you're buying. We steam distill and package our certified Organic Lavender Essential Oil on our farm using lavender grown in our fields. By creating whole essential oils (instead of aromatic isolates), we choose health over convenience. Our oils reflect the land the plants come from and the seasons they’ve experienced.
Essential oils can lift your mood and make you feel good with just a whiff of their fragrance. For some people, they may even help alleviate the symptoms of various conditions. As you explore the uses of essential oils, pay attention to how the different oils and methods of use affect you.
Always talk to your doctor before starting any aromatherapy treatment. Remember that aromatherapy is meant to be a complementary therapy. It’s not meant to replace any doctor-approved treatment plan.
Let us know: How do you incorporate essential oils into your everyday life?