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Everything You Need To Know About Essential Oils

By Alison McGill

Chances are you know about essential oils, have some in your beauty stash, but you likely haven’t fully harnessed the healing powers of them. Aromatherapy is a science and provides relief for so many common ailments: Headaches, chronic stress, digestion, eczema, and sleep to name just a few.

Monika Meulman, is a certified aromatherapy health practitioner (CAHP), teacher and founder of The Healing Muse. She’s been practicing aromatherapy for 25 years and reports she’s seen a recent uptick in client interest looking to aromatherapy for mental health and wellness support.

“Anxiety and depression are things people are really needing help with right now,” Meulman says.  “It all comes down to a heightened sense of stress cause by fatigue, overworking, overthinking and a generalized nervousness. Essential oils can quickly improve your mood, shift your mindset, and help calm your nervous system. With the growing availability of personal essential oil inhalers, aromatherapy is portable, personal, and available to use anywhere, anytime, even in scent free environments.”

Most simply defined, Meulman explains aromatherapy as the use of aromatic plants, and/or their aromatic compounds—essential oils—for symptom relief of fungal or viral infections, skin health support and overall natural wellness. “There is a growing movement toward embracing ceremony, rituals and personal wellness sacred time and this is what the practice of aromatherapy is all about.”

Meulman says the road to becoming an at-home aromatherapy expert begins with procuring a curated selection of essential oils. “Start with no more than three, and fully explore those oils for a few weeks. I suggest lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil. These all work well on their own, or in a blend, and have multiple benefits. Never ingest oils or apply them directly to skin. Try them in a diffuser, carrier oil, moisturizer or shampoo.”

Deidre Marinelli and Yvonne Xenidis are the co-cofounders of Empathy Brand Inc., a Canadian-made luxury skincare line with a major focus on essential oils. “We feel beauty is more than skin deep, it is overall wellbeing,” says Marinelli “All Empathy products harness the power of plants to influence your health, mood, and behavior. We use the purest essential oils distilled from natural fruits, flowers, plants, herbs and spices.”

Above: Empathy Brand Inc. Essential Oil Blends, $34 each.

Marinelli says when shopping for essential oils, be sure you are buying pure quality ones from a reliable source. Store them in a dark, dry place, away from direct sunlight, and do a regular freshness check—essential oils older than three years old can spoil and cause skin irritation. She also recommends curating your collection of essential oils to keep things easy. Here are five essential oils she recommends always having in your apothecary.

Lavender
“This is one of the most popular and versatile essential oils used in aromatherapy, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties,” Marinelli says. “It promotes relaxation, helps with anxiety, fungal infections, allergies, depression, insomnia, eczema, nausea and menstrual cramps. It can also be used to treat burns, sunburns and reactive insect bites.”

Lemon
An energizing essential oil, this will help boost your mood and mental clarity. “Lemon reduces stress, and can help ease morning sickness symptoms,” Marinelli reports. “It also kills harmful bacteria and can be used as a natural cleaner. Rich in antioxidants, this oil helps to brighten and boost skin tone and texture.”

Peppermint
“Clearing up congestion and stimulating circulation are just a few benefits of peppermint essential oil,” Marinelli explains. “It also aids in relaxation, helps digestion and relieves motion sickness and nausea, and when used in a massage provides relief for painful muscle tension.”

Bergamot
Loved for its uplifting fragrance, this essential oil is a stress buster and mood booster. “Part of the citrus family of oils, it’s also great for fighting infections thanks to its antibacterial properties,” Marinelli says.

Cedarwood
“I love this essential oil for relaxing body and mind,” Marinelli shares. “It’s a wonderful sleep aid, very grounding and calming, and helps promote feelings of confidence and strength within.”

Empathy Brand Inc. Essential Oil Blends, $17 each.

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