Essential Central: Essential Oil Basics

Essential Oils are all the rage right now. Humankind has been using them for thousands of years for both health and beauty reasons, but it appears as though they've just exploded into westernized cultures. 

I personally have been using E.O.'s now for about three years, and I absolutely love them! I love what they've done for my health and the health of my family, and I love what they've done for me therapeutically. 

But before we dive head first into the oil pool, let me preface this by reiterating that I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist, botanist, biologist, or Essential Oil expert. I'm just a chick who's passionate about researching the products I put in, on, or around my body.

Part of my Young Living oil collection

I plan to keep this new series, Essential Central, going periodically. With it, I want to discuss the benefits of certain oils, the risks associated with certain oils, and how best to use oils altogether. But for this introductory post, I wanted a more basic, cliff notes version of what Essentials Oils are and what they are not.

For starters, not all essential oils are created equally. 

There are things called Fragrance Oils, and then there are true, therapeutic-grade Essential Oils. Fragrance oils do exactly what their name says; they are meant to be fragrant. Fragrance oils are cosmetic-grade, or perfume-grade oils. They are already diluted, so much so that they really hold no therapeutic or medicinal value. Most fragrance oils are still considered nature-derived, and can be found in beauty products claiming that their added fragrance is "all natural." However, many fragrance oils are still cut with chemicals, so even if the packaging says it's "all natural," that doesn't necessarily mean that it is.

True Essential Oils aren't actually oils, because they don't contain fatty acids, like coconut oil or avocado oil. Essential Oils are essentially (see what I did there?) the life essence of the plant they are derived from. Unlike animals, plants can't defend themselves with claws and teeth, so they have internal defense mechanisms that protect them from environmental stresses and dangers. Essential Oils are basically a plant's defense mechanisms in a highly-concentrated liquid form.

There are only a small handful of companies who actually make effective, therapeutic-grade E.O.'s. Young Living, the only company I personally trust and use for my E.O. needs, makes therapeutic-grade oils and food-grade oils. 

Food-Grade Oils

Not all E.O.'s are made to be ingested. Most aren't, actually. There are many that you can use topically, and then there are some that are only meant to be used aromatically. The Young Living Vitality line of E.O.'s can be used for ingestion, meaning you can use them orally for medicinal reasons, or you can use them in your cooking. They are less concentrated than the therapeutic grade E.O.'s, and therefore much safer to consume. 

As you can see, I have both oregano and peppermint vitality oils. I much prefer fresh or dried herbs for cooking, so I don't know yet if I'll use these in any recipes. I would, however, use them for medicinal reasons and take them orally. Oregano oil can do wonders for you if you feel a cold coming on. I actually learned that trick from one of my favorite bloggers, Lauryn of The Skinny Confidential. Peppermint can help with headaches and upset stomachs, not to mention it awakens the senses.

Aromatherapy Oils

Most true essential oils are going to be therapeutic-grade, meaning they can at least be used for aromatherapy. We have two diffusers in our house, and I'll combine different oils from time to time depending on what mood I'm in. 

Young Living Essential Oils
Mood-enhancing Oils

Sometimes, I'm looking to calm down, de-stress, and relax. Other times, I just like the smell of a certain oil, like Pine, and I just want whatever room I'm in to smell good. Whether you're actually looking for an oil to effect your mood, or you just want to improve your mood by improving your atmosphere, using E.O.'s for aromatherapy can do wonders for you.

Healing Oils

Lastly, there are oils that I use for healing. For example if I'm achy after a workout, or I've got some tension in my shoulders, I'll use these topically to help with the pain. But if you have sensitive skin, or you don't yet know how you'll react to a certain oil, ALWAYS dilute. That's where fatty oils will come into play. You can use olive oil or coconut oil, or almond oil to dilute E.O.'s for topical use. 

I also use healing oils aromatically. During cold and flu season, I like to diffuse Thieves (my favorite E.0.) because it has antibacterial and antiviral properties. 

Pro Tips:

1. Never put E.O.'s on babies and children without diluting them with a carrier oil. And only use ONE drop. E.O.'s are extremely potent.

2. NEVER use any E.O.'s containing peppermint on or near babies, small children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers. This includes Peppermint, Wintergreen, Spearmint, and any other variation. Peppermint can cause upper-respiratory problems in babies and small children.

3. ALWAYS do your research before trying a new oil. And if you're going to use it topically, always do a patch test first.

There you have it, Pals. The very basics of using Essential Oils! I know this probably sounded like one long ad for Young Living, but I can assure you, it wasn't. This post isn't sponsored, none of these oils were given to me for free, and I'm not even a part of the YL Distributor program. Use or try whichever brand of oils you want, just do your research first.

Do any of you guys use Essential Oils? If so, which ones and what brands? If not, are there any posts you'd like to see in the future with more info on E.O.'s? Let me know!

Have an awesome weekend!

Cheers, 
LesLeigh J.

Cooking with Essential Oils: Lemon

I desperately want to become one of those meal-planning mavens who plans their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus weeks in advance, but that goal is still a work in progress. In the meantime, I am still a throw-together-a-last-minute-dinner kind of maven, and that's exactly what I had to do the other night.

Joshua comes home from work, asks what we're doing for dinner, and I'm like "I don't know, what are we doing for doing for dinner?" He throws out some suggestions, and because I'm pregnant, all of them sound utterly repulsive.That's when I look in the freezer and see that we have shrimp. Immediately, my Pinterest food board flashes before my eyes, and I think of a recipe for Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Butter!

Now, I live in an apartment, so I'm not yet cool enough to own my own Meyer Lemon tree, nor do I keep lemon juice on hand because I pretty NEVER have a need for it. But I do keep my Young Living Lemon Essential Oil in the cabinet, and best believe I busted that baby out for this recipe.

In order to make the Lemon Garlic Butter, I melted about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. I then added about 1/2 a teaspoon of Garlic Powder, a dash of pink salt, and 3-5 drops of Lemon Oil. 

Add the mixture to the shrimp as you sear it in a nonstick skillet, and voila! Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Butter! For the sides, I prepared some fettuccine alfredo and some lightly-salted sauteed broccoli. 

Joshua loved this dish, and it was really easy to prepare, especially for it being an on-the-fly meal. Cooking with essential oils can make meal preparations really easy, especially if you don't have certain dried/fresh herbs or spices on hand. Just keep in mind that oils are really potent, so you'll always want to add one drop at a time and "season" to taste.

Let me know if you try this recipe out, and feel free to share how you cook with essential oils!

Essential Oils to help you through winter!

So it's that time of year where most days are still cold, but you get a warm day here and there to remind you that it's not quite spring yet... but you really want it to be. This can also be the peak of cold and flu season with the warm day/cold day thing going on. This time of year is also when I start to notice my allergies more.

There are some essential oils that I really like to use during this time of year and wanted to pass along to you in hopes that we can all stay healthy and keep our families healthy as well.

So the first oil I want to talk about is Peppermint Essential Oil by Young Living. I LOVE (in an Oprah singing voice) this oil!!! I use this oil almost every night to help with my breathing (breathing is good!). I'll put a drop on my hand and rub that all over my chest. It really keeps my chest from locking up and giving me that sensation of not being able to take deep breaths. I also will put a drop on my hands, rub them together, and inhale the peppermint through my noise and mouth. This will really open up your air ways and help you breathe easy! 

Now for me, I just put this oil directly on my skin because it doesn't bother or irritate me. Many people though have to use a carrier oil (usually coconut) because peppermint can cause a slight burning or cool tingly sensation. The best way to test and see if you need a carrier oil is to put a drop on your hand and rub them together. If you feel no sensation, then you are probably good to go.

The second oil is Thieves Essential Oil by Young Living. This oil really is the bomb.com as it is so multi purpose! Thieves is a combination of Cloves, Lemon, Rosemary, Eucalyptus Radiant, and Cinnamon. All those add up to a great oil to ingest to boost up that immune system. Thieves is also a great oil to defuse as it has a wonderful smell and will actually kill bad bacteria in the air. Thieves is not typically used as a topical oil, but with a carrier oil can be used as needed. Just be sure to research what you are going to use it for if you plan on using it topically.

I'd also highly recommend Thieves Household Cleaner by Young Living. This is a must have, especially for cold and flu season. This is an all purpose cleaner and can but used on pretty much every surface and is safe for the whole family (even your babies and pets)! Thieves Cleaner will kill all types of yucky and unwanted germs without filling your home with harsh chemicals. Actually, the aroma it will release in the air can actually help with your allergies.

Thieves Household Cleaners from youngliving.com

Thieves Household Cleaners from youngliving.com

Finally, the last oil I would recommend would be Lemon Essential Oil by Young Living. There are actually many reasons to include lemon in your winter oils. Lemon is really good for your skin as it will kill bad bacteria. This is great to use on your face (must use coconut or olive oil when using lemon topically on your face)  to help with any blemishes or to use along side some coconut oil or Aloe Vera gel to keep your hands clean and moisturized. Lemon can also help with reducing a fever and helping with a sore throat, both very common this time of year.

Lemon is also really good for your stomach! It can help clean out any bad bacteria in your stomach and intestines, along with helping with any nausea as it is a digestive aid. It is completely safe and tasty to ingest and will give your water a fresh lemon taste. The reason this is such awsomeness is because it can help you drink more water, which is always one of the best ways to keep your immune system up and running at peak strength. So grab some lemon and keep making a point to drink that water. As a plus, lemon can be a natural stimulant and give you that mid-day boost you need rather than reaching for a soda or another cup of coffee. I usually use a drop to every 10oz, but you can customize this to your taste preferences.

So those are three oils I use a LOT this time of year (and really all year). What about you? Comment below with some tips you've learned or picked up on when it comes to using essential oils during the winter months.

Thanks for stopping by!