essential oils

Spring is here.

Nature has shed the somberness and stillness of winter and is renewed. The first warm breeze has blown in bringing with it the sun, happy chirping birds, and buds breaking open for a display of freshness. The world is alive again.  Traditionally, this cycle of renewal and rebirth surrounds the ritual of spring cleaning. It is time for the annual decluttering and detoxification of the mind, body, spirit and home. Are you looking to replace some of those harsh and toxic cleaners? Well, essential oils are a perfectly natural addition to a spring cleaning routine.

Essential oils are one of Nature’s most beautiful gifts. They are the ‘essence’ or soul of the plant distilled from the leaves, rind, root, flower, and bark in a careful manner that retains the therapeutic benefit. According to The Oxford Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, essential oils have anti-microbial properties, which makes most oils a good choice for spring cleaning. Here is a list of my favorites.

8 Essential Oils For Spring Cleaning

Citrus oils (grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, tangerine)

These essential oils are extracted from the rind of the fruit. Typically citrus oils are powerful anti-oxidants. They are energizing and uplifting. Citrus oils, therefore, are often found in formulas used to reduce depression and lethargy. An important caution for citrus oils is that many are phototoxic. It is best not to directly apply them to the skin, especially prior to going out in the sun.

Lavender

The word ‘lavender’ derives from the Latin ‘lavare’ which means ‘to clean’ so it is an ideal addition to your cleaning ritual. Lavender oil, produced from the flowers, has been used for centuries to deodorize and disinfect but research shows that it also soothes and calms the mind. This makes lavender helpful in the reduction of anxiety and insomnia. Place a few drops on your pillowcase at night for a peaceful sleep.

Tea Tree

Tea Tree oil comes from the bark of the Melaleuca tree and is one of the most powerful antiseptics.  The Aboriginal people of Australia used tea tree oil for thousands of years to treat cuts, wounds and infections. Captain Cook used it to treat and prevent scurvy. Today it is used as a potent antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial agent found in toothpastes, shampoos and athletes’ foot formulas. This oil is a must have in your natural healing cabinet.

Frankincense

Frankincense is expensive so it is unlikely that it will be the first oil you reach for during spring cleaning. Nevertheless, its antiseptic and disinfectant properties are undeniable. It has been used for skin irritations, cuts and scrapes as well as a part of an anti-aging regiment.  It is great for the skin, hair and balancing the female reproductive system. There is research that suggests that it is also effective in killing cancerous cells. Frankincense however is best known for its spiritual applications. It was used in the Egyptian mummification process. It was also one of the gifts to the baby Jesus and is still used in churches  today to purify the air.

Applications:

The following are a very short list of applications but it is a great place to start. Use a single essential oil or a combination of any of the oils listed above. Lavender and citrus oils blend well as does frankincense and citrus.

Spring Cleaning Uses for the Mind-Body-Spirit:

  • Bath: Place a drop in each corner of your shower before turning on the warm water.
  • Inhale (great to use before meditation)
  • Diffuse the oil using a room
  • Massage: Add 10-20 drops to an ounce of carrier oil like almond, avocado or coconut oil.

Spring Cleaning Uses for the Home:

  • Carpet Freshener: Mix ½ cup baking soda with 10 drops of essential oils
  • Laundry Freshener: Place 3-4 drops on a paper towel and use in dryer cycle (This is not to remove static cling).
  • All-purpose Cleaner: Combine 1-cup white distilled vinegar and 3 cups of filtered water with 7-12 drops of essential oils.
  • For a more potent cleanser, take an empty jar and place the rind of citrus fruits. Fill the jar with white distilled vinegar and let it sit for 2 weeks. Strain the contents and discard the rinds. Take 1 part of the citrus vinegar solution and add 3 parts filtered water. Then add 7-12 drops of essential oils. Use this on counters, floors, and mirrors.

Cautions:

  • Use sparingly: Remember a little goes a long way.
  • Know your source for essential oils. All essentials are not created equal. Ask a qualified professional.
  • Know what you are working with. Fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils
  • Safety: Many essentials may not be safe to use during pregnancy or with certain medical conditions.
  • Don’t apply essential oils directly to the skin. Dilute in carrier oil or base.  Some essential oils are safe. Some essential oils are irritating to the skin. Know the property of the oil and perform a patch test before applying neat to the skin.
  • Several citrus oils tend to be phototoxic. Do not apply directly to the skin before going outside.
  • Storage: Keep away from the heat. Store in a cool dark space.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Therefore, the information does not replace the recommendations made by your doctor or primary healthcare professional.

Essential oils do create physiological effects in the body and some are contraindicated for pregnancy and other medical conditions. The information in this blog is general and is cannot take into consideration the individual’s personal state of health.  It is therefore necessary for you, the reader,  to understand and assume personal risk for the use of all products mentioned with the blog.

 

References:

Ehrlich, S. (2011).  Lavender. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved March 25, 2015 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender

Frank, M. B., Yang, Q., et al. (2009). Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine9, 6. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-6

Rose, J. (1999). 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Frog: Berkeley, CA.

Shigeharu, I., Takizawa, T., et al. (2001). Antibacterial activity of essential oils and their major constituents against respiratory tract pathogens by gaseous contact. Journal of Antimicrobial. Chemotherapy. 47 (5): 56573 doi:10.1093/jac/47.5.565

Tea Tree Oil. (2008). Retrieved March 25, 2015 from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/tea-tree-oil

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