Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for everything from aromatherapy to natural home cleaning. They come from plant cells found under the surface of leaves, bark, or peels, and are extracted by way of steam or pressure from the plant. The final substance is a very concentrated scented liquid. In fact, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it takes 220 pounds of lavender to make one pound of its oil.
Here, Hope Gillerman, author of the book Essential Oils Every Day, Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness and Beauty and creator of H. Gillerman Organics, talks up the benefits of 5 common essential oils used today. Gillerman recommends using certified organic essential oils to guarantee purity.
Benefits: Promotes respiratory health; aids in the relief of muscle aches.
How you can use it: Put a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil in boiling water, close your eyes, and slowly put your face over the bowl. Inhale this concoction deeply at least five times in a row, three times a day.
Benefits: Refreshing scent; has cleansing properties.
How you can use it: To remove household odors, put two to three drops of lemon essential oil in an essential oil diffuser, and run it for 30 minutes for a thorough odor cleansing. You can also mix six drops of lemon essential oil with two tablespoons of baking soda and two tablespoons water as a gentle scrub to help clean kitchen counters, cutting boards, and refrigerator shelves.
Benefits: Cleansing and relaxing; used as a DIY moth ball recipe
How you can use it: Draw a warm bath and run a few drops of cedarwood essential oil under the faucet. Soak for 15 minutes for a purifying and relaxing at-home spa experience. To make all-natural moth balls, put a few drops of cedarwood essential oil on a cotton ball, and leave them on the floor of your closet. (The larger the closet, the more cotton balls you will need.) Replace the treated cotton balls when the scent fades.
Benefits: Relaxes and calms; helps promote restful sleep.
How you can use it: At bedtime, put a few drops of lavender essential oil on a tissue or cotton ball, hold it up to your nose, and slowly inhale five to 10 times to promote a feeling of calm. You can also create a linen spray for your pillow: Simply combine one cup distilled water, 1-½ tablespoons of witch hazel or vodka, and 12 drops of lavender essential oil in a small spray bottle. Shake before each use, spray on your pillow and linens, and relax.
Benefits: Stimulates mental focus, helps ease tension, and refreshes breath.
How you can use it: Mix three drops of peppermint essential oil with an unscented body lotion or another oil (like coconut oil) in the palm of your hand. Massage it into your neck and shoulders to promote relaxation and revive your energy levels. For a breath-saver in a pinch, carry a small vial of 100 percent pure peppermint essential oil and simply put a drop on the tip of your tongue.