A Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils

In the world of natural methods of healing, there are a multitude of remedies. One such remedy is essential oils. When I first was introduced to natural modalities to heal the body, I often found myself overwhelmed by the amount of information and the variety of products through which to sift.

I often found myself wondering: which products should I trust? What do I use for my various ailments? How do I use them? When? How often?

Today, we’ll break down all of these questions and more. Helping me in this endeavor today is Sarah Yurich, Director of Client Experience, lover of essential oils, and in-house expert on their diverse uses. We’ll be covering purpose, how-to’s, and intention behind our most common and beloved essential oils at the Human Garage.

I also have a small confession: I was a natural skeptic when I first came on staff at Human Garage. So you want me to rub some peppermint, lavender, and rosemary on my temples and expect my headaches to feel better? Peppermint for my stomach aches? Lavender to help me sleep? There’s even something to help my creativity and drive my writing process? I’ll be honest, it sounded too good to be true.

Wherever you may find yourself in the process of natural healing, I have a small suggestion. Be open. You might be surprised at what you find. At the point I stopped dismissing the idea and opened myself up to new experiences, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results. With an open mind, heart, and a sense of curiosity, the world of essential oils is at your fingertips.

I had the opportunity to visit our wizard alchemist friend and maker of Essential Oil Wizardry, Dr. Nick, at his lab in San Luis Obispo, California over the summer. I witnessed his process in action, learned about where these incredible oils come from (all over the world!), and even sat in on the actual blending of oils as we blended together a beautifully delicious new oil called “Nurture” from start to finish. I was amazed to find that creating essential oils is indeed both an art and a science.

(If you’re curious to see his lab and process more in detail, click here.)

Suffice it to say, I left his lab feeling, essentially, wonderful. I was calm, open, aware, grounded, painless, content, and bubbling with creativity. Essential oils are now an active part of my day.

From minor aches and pains to sunburns to writer’s block to upset stomachs to sleepless nights, there is an essential oil remedy for everything (Even your sex drive and sexual enhancement in case you were wondering).

So where to begin? Sarah will help me answer our ten most commonly asked questions about essential oils. I invite you in to the wealth of knowledge essential oils have to offer us all.

1). What are essential oils? 

In essence, essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids found naturally and are extracted from a variety of plants. They are extracted in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Essential oils can be used to treat a wide variety of physical and emotional ailments (as well as spiritual), as plants have been linked to physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being for thousands of years. Their medicinal uses have been utilized for thousands of years in all different corners of the world.

(Source: Essential Oils: pocket reference. 6th Edition. 2014).

Essential oils can be used in their pure essence or as multiple oils blended together. For instance, Trinity oil at Human Garage is a blended oil used for headaches and consists of pure oils Lavender, Peppermint, and Rosemary.

2). How do essential oils work in the brain? 

Essential oils can have profound physiological and psychological effects by acting on various parts of the brain in the limbic system, which controls heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance, depending on how one utilizes the oil (i.e. diffusion, inhalation, ingestion, etc.).

When a fragrance is inhaled, airborne odor molecules travel up the nostrils to the olfactory epithelium or the center of olfactory sensation. These receptors send signals to the brain and the limbic system. The amygdala, for example, is stored in this region of the brain and is largely impacted by scent. Emotions and memories are stored here, as are past feelings of trauma, emotional upset, and discontent. When essential oils cross the blood barrier and stimulate the amygdala, they have the power to address many stored emotional experiences in the brain.

(Source: Essential Oils: pocket reference. 6th Edition. 2014).

3). I’m new to essential oils and I see hundreds. Where do I begin? 

Sarah’s Tip: “I recommend a very simple approach. What do you like to smell? For someone who is new, you don’t want to get too involved. What kind of smells do you like? Do you like floral scents? Do you enjoy spicy? Woodsy? Citrus? That’s a great place to start. What attracts you? What smells? Because that’s an easy way to start. How does it make you feel when you smell it?”

Another great idea is to check in with how you’re feeling, emotionally and physically in a given moment. You can use essential oils designed to treat the specific sensations you are experiencing at any time.

4). Why use essential oils? 

Sarah’s Tip: “Everyone has something they want to fix. Digestion. Sleep. Relationships. Depression. Everyone has something they want to work on and there is an oil to help you. Anything you can think of. Pain. Weight loss. Toe fungus. Immune system. Trauma. Anxiety. There is an oil for everyone and everything.”

5). What are your essential oils you can’t live without? 

Lavender – “There are so many uses for it. Lavender is considered the swiss army knife of essential oils. Lavender is one thing you can’t go without. It’s great for sleep. Very kid friendly. Great for relaxation, sunburns, cuts, scrapes, anti-bacterial. It can even be used for zits and acne.”

Peppermint – “Peppermint supports digestion and intestinal function. Helps with nausea. Helps with congestion and your nasal passages. It’s cooling. Helps ease muscle soreness. You can put it in a latte. Rub it on your belly. It’s very user friendly. Lavender and peppermint are very accessible. These are good starting points.”

Frankincense – “At first, I wasn’t sure what to do with Frankincense. It can be great to diffuse it with Peppermint. It’s excellent for skin. Good for anti-aging. It is grounding and helps to promote deep meditation. And here’s a fun fact: it’s the second most frequently mentioned oil in the Bible. Very spiritual purpose, too. It helps for balancing your emotions. Antiseptic as well.”

Pictured here: essential oil collection at Human Garage.

6). How do I apply and use essential oils? 

There are numerous ways to utilize and enjoy the benefits of essential oils. Here a few of the most common ways we use them.

Diffuse – A diffuser allows for a mist of essential oils to move throughout the air, where they can remain for several hours. Place anywhere from 5-20 drops of your favorite oil or oils in a diffuser to vaporize. Enjoy them aromatically. (You may want to start by only diffusing for 15-30 minutes until you become used to the scent of oils. You can increase time to 1-3 hours as you become used to the aroma).

Inhalation – Place 1-2 drops in the palm of your hands and inhale deeply .

Topically – Applying topically allows for quicker absorption into the bloodstream, maximizing benefits as they are absorbed through the skin, as well as inhaling. Keep in mind that some essential oils are not recommended for topical use and those without a carrier oil infused (such as coconut oil) may even burn the skin with repeated use topically.

Sarah’s Tip: Try applying and massaging PRI Ice (a blend from Essential Oil Wizardry we carry) to a sore or stiff area on the body. Or try rubbing Peppermint on your stomach when you have a stomach ache or nausea.

*Note: The oils we sell at Human Garage from Essential Oil Wizardry are intentionally infused with a combination of coconut oil and dead sea salts. This is to allow for topical use and smoother application without irritation to the skin. Infusing coconut oil allows for a little to go a long way.

Internally/Ingest – Try dropping a few drops into a glass of water (again, always being sure to read any indications against orally ingesting). Grapefruit, lemon, or tangerine can be delicious oils to add to your water! And grapefruit can aide in weight loss. You can add into a capsule or add some citrus essential oil to your next salad dressing.

Bath –Try adding essential oils to your favorite sea or bath salts. Or add a cup of epsom salts with your favorite essential oils and dissolve in warm bath water.

Sarah’s Tip: Try placing essential oils on cotton balls and place around your home!

7). What are some oils I can use for common ailments? 

Here are some common ailments we see at the Human Garage and some of our staff favorites in treating them.

Sleep: Try: Violet Chill, a blend of cedarwood, frankincense, lavender, myrrh, and helichrysum.

Sarah’s tip: Take a shower. Get out of the shower make sure bottoms of feet are clean. 2-3 drops in your hands and massage the bottoms of your feet to create clouds of violet calm before you go to sleep.

Pain/Anti-inflammation: Try PRI Ice, a blend of black pepper, frankincense, German Chamomile, Helichrysum, Lavender, Niaouli, Peppermint, Pink Pepper, Red Spikenard, Wintergreen, and Turmeric.

Sarah’s Tip: Massage directly onto the area of the body that is sore or tender. Great for back pain, muscle stiffness, neck tension, and inflammation. Add into a bath water with epsom salts.

Mood Enhancer/Depression: Try Citrus Blast, a blend of Blood Orange, Lemon, and Lime. Citrus acts as a natural mood booster, fights against depression, helps with healthy mood, calm, and brings joy.

Sarah’s Tip: Try rubbing on your heart, neck, or placing on your hands and inhaling with a few deep breaths.

Mental Clarity & Spiritual Awareness: Try Third Eye, a blend of Frankincense, Jasmine, Palo Santo, Rosemary, Royal Sandalwood, Tulsi. Third Eye refers to the sixth chakra in the body. It can be grounding, calming, and enhance mental clarity and creativity. Excellent for writers and meditators alike.

Sarah’s Tip: Apply to the nape of the neck, on third eye, and temples. Try before your next massage or meditation session.

Immune Function: Try Prabhupad Immune, a blend of Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Peppermint, Clove, and Oregano. Take this when you feel yourself becoming sick. Place a drop or two in water or tea if you feel yourself beginning to get sick.

Hear from the Wizard Dr. Nick himself on the benefits of this powerful blend: http://www.essentialoilwizardry.com/product/prabhupad-immune/

8). Are all essential oils created equally? 

No! When it comes to essential oils, all things are not created equally. As I learned and experienced in my visit to Dr. Nick, quality and intention are everything. The word “organic” gets thrown around a lot these days. While important, there is little, if any, regulation of what actually constitutes organic or not. Dr. Nick prioritizes the quality of plants oils are derived from opposed to labels that may or may indicate true quality of the oil.

Dr. Nick sources his oils from around the world. He has visited many of his suppliers in person, traveling the world for several years exploring and trying various plant based products and only partnering with the highest of quality sources.

As Sarah mentioned in our conversation (and as I witnessed first hand in his lab), the intention behind Dr. Nick’s oils and the mindfulness with which he creates and blends his oils distinguishes his process from many other essential oil companies. Below, you can see a picture of Dr. Nick in action blending meticulously in his lab.

9). What’s a memorable or powerful experience you’ve had with essential oils? 

“For me, I feel like I have a ritual where I totally allow myself to decompress at night. In the past, I turned on the t.v. and distracted myself. Now that I have the oils I have a ritual at night. I bathe in them. I rub them on my body. I quiet my mind and allow myself to go within when I come home from work. It’s the first time in my life I have this decompression hour. And before, I never did that. I’d be on the tv bored. They can be a coping mechanism. I look forward to going to bed at night.”

10). What is a staff favorite at Human Garage for essential oils?

Heart – Apply to the heart area and hold your hands over your heart. Its purpose is for emotional healing, forgiveness of self and others, openness of heart, and feelings of anger. Try using when feelings of hurt or resentment arise.

Sarah’s Tip: Place on your heart and inhale. Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes. Calming. Soothing. Nurturing. Grounding. Puts you in the moment.

In closing, we hope you have enjoyed the wealth of knowledge and information essential oils have to offer us. Everything we’ve referenced here today is available (and more) at the Human Garage.

I will leave you with this anecdote on my own experience with essential oils.

When I visited Dr. Nick’s essential oil lab in San Luis Obispo, he walked me through a custom blend from start to finish. I watched as he intentionally and cautiously pulled pure oils one by one to craft an oil together for me to help with stress. As he carefully played with what quantities of each oil to blend together perfectly, I inhaled deeply, taking in the delectable scents of rhododendron and grapefruit.

As I did so, I flashed back to a memory as a young child: walking through my mother’s garden, which was full of rhododendrons. As we worked together to name the essential oil blend, Dr. Nick asked me what I felt as I smelled the oil.

“Nurtured,” I responded. He began to write “Nurture” on the top of the oil. Indeed, as I left his lab and drove back to Los Angeles, I felt, simply put, nurtured.

If you’re curious to  learn more about our line of essential oil products, Essential Oil Wizardry, I encourage you to check out Dr. Nick’s website here: http://www.essentialoilwizardry.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *