The Right (and Wrong) Way to Use Essential Oils
Remember the last time you were in nature, and the aroma of the sweet grass, the smell of the forest trees, or the scent of the richness of the earth instantly relaxed the tension in your shoulders and brought your stress level to zero?
Or how about when you smell a fresh bouquet of roses, and you feel your Heart Chakra open up, like petals of a blossom?
The smell of nature is powerful. It bypasses our logical and linear brain, and sinks into our being.
Nature’s peels, leaves, needles, flowers, seeds, resins, woods, and roots speak to us, and heal us, at our most primal level.
It reminds us of our connection to nature, to Mother Gaia, and goes past simple aromatherapy. It accesses our consciousness, and speaks to our energy body.
This is why working with plant medicine, such as with Essential Oil Therapy, can be deeply therapeutic. You don’t even need to think about it to feel its affects!
And, when it’s distilled into an essential oil form that can be easily applied to our bodies and our immediate environment, you have the chance to heal yourself on various levels – from superficial, to your center, to your core.
My Essential Oil Story
A few years ago, I learned Essential Oil Therapy based on Chinese Medicine and chakra healing.
It is something that has added much depth to my private practice. My patients love receiving their special blend for the day, and letting it energize the rest of their evening! In fact, one of my patients loved her blend so much, she didn’t want to wash the shirt that still carried the scent!
Of course, I love it, too! I adore setting the mood in my treatment room with my aromatherapy diffuser. And, even when I’m blending it in with carrier oils to work on my patients’ bodies when bodywork is needed, I also enjoy their yummy properties!
And, at home, I use it for many things, including physical aches and pains, anxiety, insomnia, and the range of emotions we experience as human beings.
But, truthfully, my love for essential oils already started years before that.
I’ve always loved the scent of nature – from the sampaguita flowers in the Philippines that would be strung into a lei and placed around my neck when I’d touch down in the airport, to the seeped Pito Pito tea that had various healing leaves in each tea bag, and to pikake flowers in Hawai’i that surrounded me during my trips there, which was even distilled into spray form.
These are only a few examples of how the smell of nature has lifted me, and, even then, I could tell that it had a healing effect on my being. I would feel calmer and less stressed.
I’ve even written about the therapeutic effects of essential oils in previous articles:
The 5 Best Essential Oils To Clear And Strengthen Your Energy
My Top 5 Fave Essential Oils For Healing The Soul
3 Ways To Use Essential Oils When You Have A Cold
But, it was only recently that I’d discovered that I’ve never mentioned the correct (and incorrect) ways to applying essential oils, which can be very important, indeed!
How to use Essential Oils the Right Way
Here are only some of the more common and basic ways to use essential oils:
- Aromatherapy Diffuser. Aromatherapy diffusers are small containers that contain a reservoir that you fill with water. When you add your essential oils, place the cover over it, and turn it on, it diffuses the aroma of the essential oil into your immediate surroundings through a gentle mist. There are smaller ones that are best for small rooms. There are larger ones (like the one that I have at my office) that have a larger reservoir for larger rooms, or if you want the mist to last for a long period of time. You only need 5-6 drops of each oil in the diffuser. Always make sure you give the reservoir a good wipe down after emptying it of old water, since the oils can solidify after a while. Also make sure to get an ultrasonic diffuser, which uses vibration to activate the oils into the atmosphere, not heat (which can change the integrity of the oil). There are also candle diffusers, that don’t need electricity. All you need is a single tea light candle in the bottom part of the diffuser, water in the bowl above it, and a few drops of essential oils in the water. The drawback is that you have to keep replacing the tea light candle when it goes out, so it may not be ideal for using it over an extended period of time. There are also nebulizers, which don’t need water or heat to disperse the oils. It’s a great diffuser to use, but a pain in the ass to clean!
- Topical Application. When you use essential oils on your body, make sure they are high quality (come from a reputable company, maintain the properties and energies of the oils, are not too adulterated, and are harvested in ways that align with the sustainability of the Earth, double points if they are wildcrafted or organic). NOTE: be wary of any oils claiming to be “therapeutic grade”, “medicinal grade”, or “aromatherapy grade” since no actual grading system for essential oils exists. So it is, in fact, a misleading claim. I am also wary of multi-level marketing when essential oils are concerned, since they tend to be more gimmicky and focused on profit rather than the energetics of the oils (hells yeah to abundance, but, boo to overlooking the deep medicine of herbs!) When using essential oils on the body, always make sure a carrier oil is used! A carrier oil literally carries the essential oil, so that you can more easily apply it to an area of the body, or use it in bodywork. A fabulous carrier oil I love is jojoba (I love using the pure pesticide-free kind.) It easily absorbs into the body, conditions the skin, and is great for general use. You can also use almond oil and coconut oil for general use, arnica oil when working with sore muscles, or sesame oil when working with aching bones. Use 5-6 drops of essential oil in a dime-sized portion of jojoba for general use. For bodywork, use about a nickel-size portion. To apply for general use, use a cottonball or the tip of your finger. You can anoint the affected area, or just use your intuition to where it should be placed. You can also apply it to a chakra that is feeling challenged (click on the chakra links, below, for more info on types of oils, crystals, and healing techniques to use for that particular chakra):
- The pubic bone for the Root Chakra, for issues around survival, family, tribe, and feeling grounded.
- Two inches below the navel for the Sacral Plexus Chakra, for issues around creative expression, emotion, sexuality, abundance, or connection.
- Two inches above the navel for the Solar Plexus Chakra, for issues around power, intimidation, or self-esteem.
- The middle of your chest for the Heart Chakra, for issues around self-love, love in general, and compassion.
- The base of the front of your neck for the Throat Chakra, for issues around speaking your truth and communicating effectively.
- Between your brows for the Third Eye Chakra, for issues around trusting your intuition, Inner Wisdom, and seeing past what you can physically see.
- At the very top of your head for the Crown Chakra, for issues around connection with the Divine, feeling connected to the cosmic consciousness, and trusting that you are being taken care of in life.
- Epsom Salt Bath. Epsom salt baths are the Highly Sensitive Person’s BFF (read why here). Not only is it delicious to luxuriate in a 20-30 minute epsom salt bath, but by including essential oils, you create a haven for yourself as you clear your aura. Use 1-3 cups of epsom salt (if you work/live in an energetically toxic environment, use more epsom salt) + 1 cup of baking soda (increases the detoxification effect) + 5-6 drops of your preferred essential oil. Combine, then dump and dissolve in the tub as it fills. Check out the above link to find out my fave essential oil combinations for specific bath purposes.
- Spray. Sprays are fabulous because they’re easy to make, versatile, and fun to use. You can spray it in your living or work area for a boost of energy (depending on if the boost is to clear energy, energize it with good vibes, infuse love into the area, or any other purpose) or spray it in the air and walk into it to treat yourself to the high vibes you’ve created in the bottle! A good size bottle to use for a personal spray (for your body or your living area) is 2oz. It’s best to choose a dark colored glass bottle, such as amber, so as to preserve the oils from the sun. These can be easily found online on Amazon, at craft stores, and at other stores like The Container Store. All you need is some distilled or purified water (the more pure the better, to help your oils keep, since it may take some time to empty, some people add a dash of alcohol to preserve the oils, but it’s not always necessary), 5-9 drops of your favorite oil(s), a good shake, and you’re ready to go! If you are a Reiki practitioner, charging the spray with Reiki amps up the power and intention, greatly. That’s what I do when I make my I make my Space Clearing Spray that clears bad juju, or for custom spray orders.
- Blend. Blends are a wonderful way of applying essential oils topically. It allows you to tote your prepared blend anywhere you need it, for application any time during the day. I recommend anointing yourself with your high vibe blend once in the morning, and before retiring at night. You can use any size bottle for this with a well-fitting cap, though I prefer the amber colored (to protect the oils) 10ml and 15 ml sizes that have the drop insert in the mouth of the bottle, for more precise application. You can get these online, as well. These sizes are small enough to carry around with you, but still last you a long time. Just fill up the majority of the bottle with your carrier oil of choice (see Topical Application, above), leaving enough room to include your oils. Then, include about 5-8 drops of your favorite oil(s) into the bottle, shake well, and lock in the top/cap. As with the spray, if you are a Reiki practitioner, you can charge the blend with Reiki, towards the powerful intention that you’d like to manifest. Doing so makes it truly magical! As with the sprays, this is exactly what I do with custom blend orders.
- Compress. A compress, in regards to essential oil use, is when you take a small to medium-sized towel (depending on the area to be treated), soak it in a bowl of very warm water and essential oils, wring it, and quickly place it for a couple of minutes on an area of pain, or a part of the body that is affected, such as a sore throat, congested chest, lower back, sinus area, feet, shoulders, etc., to infuse the area with warmth, the medicine of the oils, and to open the area that may be previously congested with stuck energy. Simply place 5-6 drops of your chosen essential oil(s) in the bowl of very warm water, soak the towel in it, wring it, and apply it to the affected area. A good compress blend for a congested chest is Ravensara, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Pine.
How NOT to use Essential Oils
- Ingesting them. In the name of all that is holy, please DO NOT ingest your essential oils! I know some folks encourage putting them in tea, drinks, smoothies, or taking drops straight into the mouth in tiny capsules, but I do not recommend this. Essential oils may sometimes smell delicate, but they are powerful. They can irritate, and depending on the dosage or oil, erode, the gastrointestinal tract. There have been accounts of digestive issues related to ingesting essential oils.
- Not using a carrier oil during topical application. It is important to use a carrier oil when applying essential oils topically. Some essential oils will irritate and burn the skin if no carrier oil is used.
- Overdosing. It is not always true that more is better when it comes to essential oils. Every essential oil has an energetic, physical, and spiritual purpose. For some of them, dosing at a high level does not achieve a higher effect. In fact, it can negate it entirely. Sweet marjoram, for instance, is great for muscle pain, especially when we feel tightly wound and nervous. But, when used in high doses, it can act as an anaphrodisiac, and decrease normal sexual response.
NOTE: The above do’s and don’ts are general guidelines on application. Every person’s physical and energetic constitution is different, so what can yield specific results for one person may not always provide the same result for another. To get more a detailed treatment, visit an Essential Oil Therapist who knows what they’re doing!
What are your favorite essential oils, and why?
Tell me about it in the comments, below!
May plant medicine serve you,
P.S. Did you know that you can find me on social media? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
Copyright © 2016 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.
All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.
ClaraMarch 11, 2017
This is a great article, Margarita. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom about this! I have recently started getting more interested in essential oils (okay, I’ll admit it–I’ve gotten obsessed with learning about them in recent weeks!) partly because of what I learned when working on your chakra book and partly because a friend of mine sent me some roller balls of different blends that she’d made a few weeks ago, and I love them! So, I am kind of falling in love with essential oils (and crystals–did I tell you that working on your book also got me really into crystals??).
In any case, I’m wondering if you can recommend essential oil brands that are both high-quality and are run by responsible folks who prize sustainability, diversity, etc. Thus far, I’ve been purchasing my oils from a brand that has a fanatic level of popularity, but it pushes multi-level marketing, and there’s a lack of diversity in its catalogs that bothers me. Where do you like to purchase your essential oils?
Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/TeacherMarch 14, 2017
I’m so glad you enjoyed this article! How fabulous that working on my Chakra Healing book opened you up to wanting to learn more about essential oils and crystals!
I like Sunrose Aromatics, because their oils are high quality and high vibrational, some of which are organic and wildcrafted, they’re well sourced, and it’s woman-owned. Good people, and she cares about what she puts out there. A dedication to diversity is hard to come by with essential oil producers, unfortunately.