How to use essential oils aromatically, topically and internally

Whether you're new to essential oils or have been using them for a while, you will quickly find that there are almost unlimited ways you can benefit from using these gifts of the Earth. Once you understand the three main methods of using oils and when each method is the best choice, the sky is the limit!

How To Use Essential Oils

The three basic methods for using an essential oil are:

  • aromatically: you breathe in the aroma of the oil
  • topically: you apply it to your skin or a surface, and 
  • internally: you consume it; either in water, food, right into your mouth or in a capsule
Let’s take a closer look at each method to see when it would be most appropriate. 

Aromatic (A)

Aromatic means inhaling the aroma of the essential oil. The chemical constituents of an essential oil are very volatile. This causes them to readily disperse into the air. Through diffusion or inhalation from cupped hands, these chemical compounds enter your nose, which provides a direct pathway to your brain and lungs. 

Since the chemical compounds first mix with the air, it’s the least concentrated way to experience essential oils. This method is suitable for sensitive people, those new to essential oils, children or even some animals. 

Aromatic use of essential oils is great for:

  • respiratory support
  • emotional support
  • freshening the air or setting the mood
  • seasonal support
  • the sensitive, elderly or very young

My favourite ways to experience essential oils aromatically:

  • Diffusing oils to match the season. These will be fresh citrus and floral oils in the spring and summer, cinnamon and clove blends in the fall and tree oil blends in the winter. I love creating a welcoming atmosphere in my home
  • Inhaling oils to open up the airways, like peppermint or respiratory blend

  • Diffusing oils to clear or clean the air, such as before and after I see clients in my health practice or when I stay in hotel rooms. It’s also great for clearing the air after an argument or other stressful event to get the negative energies dispersed. 

  • Diffusing, or inhaling from cupped hands, oils to help me focus or keep me alert

  • Diffusing oils to support me emotionally when stressed, trying to make important decisions or motivate me to do certain tasks (like declutter the house or do my taxes) 

Topical (T)

Applying oils topically means allowing them to come in contact with your skin, either undiluted (neat) or diluted with a carrier oil. 

The volatile chemical constituents of an essential oil readily pass through the skin layers and into your blood stream. Within a short time, the oils are circulating throughout your body. 

When combined with a carrier oil, the essential oils tend to stay in the local area longer than when applied without a carrier oil. This happens because the volatile compounds of the essential oil bind with the carrier oil.  

Topical use of essential oils is great for:

  • Whole body support: the bottoms of your feet are a great way to get whole body benefits because the oils stimulate the reflexology points found there. 
  • Skin, hair and nail care
  • For specific support: apply the oils directly to the body part that needs help. For example if you experience stiffness in your neck area, rub appropriate essential oils around the neck area. 
  • Cleaning/disinfecting surfaces such as counters, toilets, steering wheels and door handles
  • Supporting emotional work by applying essential oils over chakra areas and to pulse points such as the inside of wrists or behind the ears
  • Supporting organ function by applying oils over the skin near the organ in question. For example, apply oils over the lower back to support kidneys or adrenals. 

My favourite ways to experience essential oils topically:

  • Using an essential oil blend for emotional support and applying it inside my wrists, behind the ears and over my heart. 

  • I like to apply oils to the bottom of my feet at bedtime to help me relax and get a deep and restful sleep

  • Being an avid horseback rider, I often apply essential oils to sore muscles after spending a fun day in the saddle

  • Getting a back massage with essential oils or using essential oils along the spine to help with various physical or emotional ailments. 

  • Rubbing a digestive blend clockwise onto my abdomen for digestive support. It’s amazing how quickly the oils have a positive effect and I feel better. 

  • Using essential oils as part of my skin care and oral health routine 

Internal (I)

Taking essential oils internally means that you swallow them either with water or in a capsule or use them in your cooking and baking. 

As long as essential oils are pure (without additives, contaminants or fillers), taking essential oils internally can have profound health benefits and/or add incredible flavour to your favourite foods. 

Not all essential oils are safe for internal use even if they’re pure; it depends on the plant the oil was derived from. However, if you can eat the plant, you should be able to ingest the oil in minute quantities. For example pure lemon, peppermint, grapefruit, oregano or thyme essential oils can be safely used for dietary purposes. 

Always follow the label on your essential oil bottle. If it says “not for internal use”, don’t take it internally. If the label marks it as a “dietary supplement”, has a “supplement facts” section or says “safe for internal use”, then you can take it internally. Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated and just tiny amounts like a drop or two will add huge flavour to foods and positively impact your body’s well-being. 

Internal use of essential oils is great for: 
  • flavouring foods and drinks such as peppermint brownies or spiced apple cider
  • assisting with body and organ cleansing
  • immune system support 
  • helping to balance pH

My favourite ways to experience essential oils internally:

  • I cook and bake with essential oils all the time. My go-to recipes include peppermint brownies, pumpkin cookies and making my own kombucha, flavoured with essential oils during the second ferment.  I also love using essential oils when juicing or in smoothies. Try steamed veggies with a drop of lemon essential oil and a bit of sea salt or adding a drop of lime essential oil to your favourite salsa. 

  • Using essential oils  as part of routine detoxes or cleanses

  • Flavouring my water to support my health goals, which might be lymphatic, pH or weight loss support

  • During cold and flu seasons, I use essential oils internally to nip any slight symptoms in the bud

I hope this article has helped you see the many ways that essential oils can be used in your life. They are a powerful tool given to us by nature and I’m excited for you to try them in different ways. 

Send me an email or comment below - I’d love to hear your favourite way to use essential oils. I personally read and reply to every email and comment, so don’t be shy!

All my best,

Live/Dried Blood Analysis - Homeopathy - Essential Oils Specialist
Nutrition & Lifestyle 

Helping you live a life you LOVE!

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