Originally published May 13 2011
Tips for choosing, buying and using essential oils
by Fleur Hupston
(NaturalNews) Essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy. They are also useful to use at home for psychological and physical well-being. Essential oil is the distilled, pure essence extracted from the fruit, peel, twigs, leaves or flowers of a plant. Caution needs to be exercised when purchasing essential oils, since fraud abounds in this market. Cheaper oils created in a lab can be highly toxic when applied to the skin.
Choosing essential oils
Not all products labeled with the word aromatherapy are necessarily pure or natural. Look carefully at the ingredient label to ensure the purchase of therapeutic grade oil. Watch out for wording such as "perfume oil", "fragrance oils" or "nature identical oil".
Labels should state 100% essential oil and the botanic name of the plant should be included under its common name. For example clove would have Syzygium aromaticum on the label. Impure products are likely to have wording such as "Made with Essential Oils" or "Made with Natural Ingredients" on the label.
Price can also be a guide when buying essential oils, since pure essential oils are not cheap. The more difficult it is to extract the oil, the more the essential oil will cost. Buy from a reputable dealer only.
Avoid buying online, since oils can expire and become rancid. Check the smell of oils in-store. Oils can vary by batch and origin - even weather conditions when the plants were grown can affect the quality and smell of the oils. It is confusing to smell too many samples in a short period of time in a store, since the strong scent of essential oil can be overpowering. Rather take a break and return to the store later.
Applying essential oils
Oils can be applied in different ways either directly on the skin through massage or by using a vaporizer or an incense or oil burner. A few drops may be put in a warm bath or inhaled directly by placing a few drops on a handkerchief or pillow. Putting a few drops of lavender oil on a pillow prior to going to sleep, for example, is said to help those with sleep problems.
For direct use on the skin, essential oils should be blended with a carrier oil first, such as sweet almond or jojoba.
Phototoxic essential oils
Some essential oils are phototoxic and can increase a person's risk of sunburn. Oils to be used with care include bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, lime, lovage, cumin and angelica. Essential oils with a lower risk include caraway, cassia, ginger, lemon verbena and melissa. When using these essential oils, care should be taken to avoid exposure to sunlight after application.
Consult an aromatherapy guide for more information.
About the authorFleur Hupston is a professional freelance writer. She is passionate about natural, healthy living and is currently studying to be a naturopath. She divides her time between writing for Natural News and various other sites, home schooling her children and studying part time.
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