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4 7 Despite all their wonderful attributes, essential oils can be used just for the smell of it too. To harness the power of essential oils consider using them in any of the following ways: Put them in a diffuser to release their compounds into the air. This method can help to clean and purify the air as well as allow for the inhalation of the oils from the air.

Place a drop or two on a tissue and inhale from the tissue. Add them to your favorite unscented body care products (like lotions, liquid soap, etc.). A good rule of thumb is to add 10-20 drops per ounce. Make your own homemade body care products and use essential oils in them. Apply them to the skin either over the affected area (i.e. the stomach or a sore muscle) or to the soles of the feet, by first mixing with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, olive, almond, or coconut). Depending on the essential oil used, this mixture can be used either topically on the body, for cleaning and disinfecting purposes, or as pest repellant.

Once you have decided on your desired oil(s) based on therapeutic benefit or simply on scent alone, you will want to do a little research on the oil’s safety and how it is best used. The following information will help you choose a product that is right for your intended purpose and give you some guidelines for safely using essential oils. There are no standards established for grading the quality of essential oils. Terms like “therapeutic grade”, “pharmaceutical grade” or “food grade” have no legal requirements for their use and do not necessarily ensure quality.8 In fact, any manufacturer can use these terms regardless of the quality of their oils, in short these are simply marketing terms. To ensure that you are getting high quality essential oils look for the following clues on the label: The botanical or Latin name of the Plant in addition to the common name. The country of origin The part of the plant used (i.e. bark, leaves, root, etc.) The extraction method (steam distilled, cold-pressed, etc.) Most reputable companies will also be able to prove that the oil has been tested for identity and purity should you request such information. At Natural Grocers we only carry essential oil lines that meet our strict quality standards. Every brand of essential oils we carry meets Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) standards (established by the FDA) and also verifies the identity and purity of each essential oil batch using the following tests: gas chromatography, infrared spectroscopy, refractive index and specific gravity. Other things you may want to consider when purchasing an essential oil are: Is the oil 100% pure or is it combined with extenders (such as jojoba oil) or added fragrances? Combining an essential oil with a carrier oil or fragrances does dilute the effect, however it offers the advantage of making expensive oils (such as jasmine or rose) more cost effective and in some cases extending the life of the scent. Oils that have been diluted or have added fragrances are probably best used in applications where scent is most important. For more therapeutic applications, pure essential oils are usually preferable. The information on the label should help to verify a 100% pure claim. Is the essential oil derived from an organic plant? Organic essential oils have been derived from plants that have been grown without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides. Organic may be especially important in the case of Supercritical CO2 Extraction, which appears to concentrate more pesticide residues than other extraction methods. 9 Organic essential oils should bear the USDA Organic Seal. Bear in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated and thus can be very powerful. The following suggestions will help you to harness their benefit safely. In general, never apply an essential oil straight to the skin; instead add it to a carrier oil, water or similar vehicle. Always test a small patch of skin for sensitivity before applying an essential oil over a large part of the body. Essential oils should be used sparingly, if at all, with babies and very young children. Even a small amount of some oils may be too much for small, delicate bodies. Please be absolutely certain an oil is appropriate for use with children before using.

Extra caution should be used by pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, and the frail when using essential oils. The internal use of essential oils or use in mouthwash is highly debated among professionals, but is generally not advisable. Even though the FDA has acknowledged some essential oils as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), it has not determined any safe dosages.

Bear in mind that the oils the FDA has granted GRAS status to are intended for use in the food industry where a drop or two may flavor an entire batch, this is very different than a drop or two straight out of the essential oil bottle onto the tongue.

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