There are many ways to use essential oils. Choosing the method of application can give you different results. How do you know which method is best?
Let's talk about the different methods:
Inhalation: Inhalation is the method in which you inhale the essential oil via an inhaler, drops on a cotton ball, directly out of the bottle, or through a steam. The molecules from the essential oil are what make up the smell of the oil. When you inhale, the molecules travel through your olfactory system into your brain directly into your central nervous system. This process happens fairly quickly (just take a big whiff of lavender and tell me how you feel). This is a great method for acute issues such as respiratory issues, headaches, or almost instant emotional changes; i.e. Anxiety and stress.
Diffusion: Diffusion is the process when essential oils are added jewelry, diffuser, candle warmer, or reeds. The essential oil molecules travel through the air cleansing the air on its way into your olfactory system. Diffusing is a great option during the times your family needs protection from cold, flu, or virus. It's also a great way to set or change the mood of your environment. It makes for a great air freshener!
The safest way to diffuse is to run your diffuser in intervals. To prevent yourself from over stimulating your central nervous system is to run the diffuser for no more than an hour at a time, taking about an hour long break before starting it again. Lessen the time of running the diffuser if its a small space or small children are in the area. Speaking of children, don't run the diffuser in the same room with a newborn as they are much more sensitive to essential oils and fragrances in general. To learn how to use essential oils safely around a new born message me directly.
Topically: To use essential oils topically you must dilute the essential oil into a carrier oil such as Jojoba, Almond, Olive, Avocado, etc. or into a lotion, cream, or salve. Essential oils can be harsh to your skin when undiluted. A 1-5% dilution is considered a safe range for an adult depending on what the issue you are trying to address. A cosmetics use is .5% while a sprained ankle 5% is a better option. When you use topically the essential oils is dispersed into the carrier evenly. Your skin absorbs the carrier oil along with the essential oil. The essential oil molecules are carried through the many layers of your skin then absorbed into the blood stream, they are finally carried into the central nervous system. This process takes much longer than inhalation. The thicker the carrier oil, the longer it takes to absorb into the skin. Depending on the circumstance you may want a slower absorbing carrier or vice versa.
The downside of using topically is the risk of sensitization (a full body reaction that can happen over time when using essential oils topically). Essential oils have a maximum dermal limit, meaning its a maximum percentage that can be used safely. For example, when using Lemongrass the maximum limit is .7% that can be used safely topically. This is why diluting your essential oils is so important. When you follow safe dilution guidelines the risk of sensitization is lessened.
Internally: Just say no to ingesting essential oils. I'm working on a separate blog post about adding essential oils to your water. But for the time being I will say that since oil and water don't mix the essential oil is basically going through your system undiluted. I already discussed the importance of diluting above. The essential oils are harsh and can burn the mucous lining of your entire digestive system. Over time this can cause more harm than good.
Which method is best for your specific circumstance? If you are wanting to induce emotional changes then I suggest diffusing or inhalation. For those stressful times at the store with your kids, hard day at work, depression, or even anger I recommend inhaling the essential oils for a few minutes. A drop of a tissue and taking a few deep breaths can make a huge difference! I make sure I'm prepared while on the go and have a few inhalers pre-made.
For muscle aches and pains, menstrual cramps, or even respiratory issues I make a up topical blends. I like for the molecules of the essential oils to travel directly to the problem area.
I personally think inhalation is the quickest method and is often overlooked. When you inhale you are less likely to form sensitization. Knowing this can help you make an informed decision on how to use essential oils the best way possible.
I hope all of this has helped!