How to Apply Essential Oils for Health and Wellness

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Although I have been writing about essential oils for quite some time now, I still get emails asking how to get started, or, more specifically, how to use them.  For me it was easy.  I became interested in aromatherapy in the early 90s and studied everything I could get my hands on to learn about the therapeutic values of essential oils.

Taking things one step further, it is a simple recipe from Valerie Worwood’s book that really clinched the deal.  I was having some serious issues with my wrist and thinking it was tendonitis, I used her healing formula that included lavender, rosemary, and peppermint oils to relieve my pain and suffering.

How to Apply Essential Oils BDS

Those three essential oils should sound familiar since they are the basis for my own blend of Miracle Healing Salve.

But I digress.  The question at hand is how to apply essential oils for health and wellness purposes. or, put another way, Essential Oils 101.

Today I call upon Contributing Author Rebecca Schiffhauer to help explain how to apply essential oils to derive health and wellness benefits for those that are just getting started on the EO journey.

How to Apply Essential Oils 101

EOs are used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications.  A single oil can be used or a complex blend, depending on the user’s experience and the desired benefit.

Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally as dietary supplements.


Due to the natural molecular composition of EOs, they’re easily absorbed by the skin and can be safely applied topically, sometimes diluted with a carrier oil and sometimes “neat” (undiluted).

Once they’re applied, essential oils can have almost an immediate, localized effect to the target area of application. They have restorative and calming properties and can be used very effectively in massage and beauty therapy.

EOs are also natural disinfectants. The chemical structure of essential oils allows them to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin for internal benefit throughout the body.

TOPICAL Placements

1.  Sub-occipital Triangle:  (pictured below) is a great place to apply an EO topically, it sits at the base of the brain stem and close to the blood supply to the brain.

Where to apply essential oils 1

Gaye’s note:  When Shelly and I “salve-up” at bedtime, we call this “salving the brain”.  I use my Sleepy Dreamy salve blend for this.

2.  Feet: the bottoms of our feet host the largest pores on our body and allow quick absorption.

3.  Over the heart:  I nice place for a topical application, I find it very soothing and calming.

4.  Localized:  When aches and pains are involved, apply EOs directly to the area of discomfort and massage the oils in with carrier oil.


Our sense of smell influences lots of physiological pathways including the stimulation of hormones and other metabolic processes. Aromatherapy is founded on the body’s predictable response to specific olfactory stimuli.

Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy applications. Certain essential oils, when diffused in the air, can be stimulating while others can be calming and soothing. Beyond emotional benefits, diffusing essential oils can purify air of unwanted odors and some airborne pathogens.

Low or no-heat essential oil diffusers are recommended because they don’t change the chemical structure of the oil being diffused. EOs can also be used as cleaning and purifying laundry and surfaces in the home.

Gaye’s note:  I can not recommend this enough.  I now own three diffusers; one for the bedroom, one for the main kitchen/living area, and one for my office.  This is an easy peasy way to ease yourself into essential oils.


Therapeutic grade essential oils can also be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. Some EOs have powerful antioxidant properties while others help support a healthy inflammatory response in cells.

Many EOs are generally regarded as being safe for dietary use, but some oils should not be taken internally. Please don’t use any essential oil product internally that does not have the appropriate dietary supplement facts on its label.

Gaye’s note:  My best experience taking essential oils internally has been placing a drop or two in a glass of water and drinking it.  Adding essential oils to a capsule did not work for me at all (severe heartburn).  A drop of lemon oil in a glass of water is surprisingly refreshing (see 33 Awesome Uses of Lemon Essential Oil for some tips for using lemon essential oil) and nothing beats the woes of eating too much or too spicy than a drop of a digestive blend in water.

Using essential oils can be both profoundly simple and life changing all at once. Working with someone who has used essential oils before can help first-time users have a good experience and boost their confidence. There’s a wealth of information available for those wanting to increase their knowledge of essential oil applications.

I highly recommend Valerie Worwood’s books, and lots of time spent Google-ing EOs and their uses!  As always, hands on use will add to your confidence and open up lots of learning opportunities to broaden your healing skills.

I hope this post helps simplify some of the basics of EO use. While it all seems overwhelming at first, very soon it becomes second nature, I promise.  Just keep EOs within reach and use them everyday!

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

When it comes to essential oils, keep in mind that everyone’s physiology is different.  Not only that, it has been my experience that something that is working great for months may suddenly become less effective.

I equate this growing tomatoes.  You may have grown a particular variety of tomatoes in you garden patch for years when suddenly, boom, they do not do well at all.  By switching to another type of seed – similar but different – all is well again.  I just wish I understood the science behind this better but for now let’s just say that this is Mother Nature’s way of doing things.

The good news is that many essential oils have similar qualities (Antiseptic, Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Antiviral, Antibacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, etc.) so it is easy to switch around.  Another thing to keep in mind that many are quite inexpensive, starting at $5.99 for a 5ml bottle, making it easy to build up a reasonable collection of basics at very little cost.

The Final Word

Late last year I dumped two drawers full of over-counter-remedies into a box and the box has not seen daylight since. My feeling is that by using essential oils exclusively, I will learn what works and what does not work.  Besides, playing with my oils brings out the inner chemist is me and is fun.

There additional things you need to know.  A little goes a long way.  Also, when stored in a cool dark area, most essential oils will have an infinite shelf life.  Now I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to use 100% pure and natural essential oils than a concoction whipped up in a corporate lab somewhere.

For more articles on essential oils, see Interested in Learning About Essential Oils?  Start Here.  And of course, if you have questions, leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them in a future article.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Spark Naturals has their Essential 4 Pack in a larger, 15ml size.  The kit includes, Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca (Tea Tree) and Peppermint.

Normally these four amazing oils would cost you $63.45 but this kit is only $49.99.  By  using the 10% coupon code “BACKDOORSURVIVAL” your cost will be reduced to only $44.99.

Of course the standard size Spark Naturals Essential 4 Pack is still available for $19.99 less your 10% discount.


Bargain Bin:  Below you will find some links to some of my favorite essential oil products.  You can also find some really good deals on eBay or locally at any store that carries health oriented items.  For the best of the best at a reasonable price, I recommend essential oils from Spark NaturalsIf you decide to give Spark Naturals a try, be sure to use the discount code “BACKDOORSURVIVAL” to receive a 10% discount.

Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil:  You will find prices all over the board for essential oils.  The Spark Naturals brand is very reasonably priced and of the highest quality.  A bottle of tea tree oil is only $6.99.  Remember, you get an additional 10% by using the coupon code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.

Diffusers:  You are definitely going to want to consider I diffuser.  I keep one in my office next to my desk, one in the bedroom and of course, one in my main living area.  The diffuser pictured below is my ZAQ Dew Aromatherapy Diffuser.

Fractionated Coconut Carrier Oil:  Fractionated Coconut Oil stays liquid, is clear, and is highly stable for use in creams and lotions, and many other cosmetic preparations for skin and hair. It penetrates the skin readily, thus acting as an excellent carrier for essential oils.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, Tea Tree:  I have become very fond of Dr. Bronner’s products.  A little goes a long way and I like that they leave no residue on my cabinets, counters and floors when used for cleaning.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: I first became interested in aromatherapy and essential oils in the early 90s which was before they really became mainstream. I read every book I could get my hands on and dabbled at creating synergy’s (a combination of two or more oils that create a chemical compound that is greater than the some of its individual components). My bible then, and even now, is this book by Valerie Worwood.

Clove Oil: Clove oil should be a component of every survival first aid kit. For less than $10, you have a multi-purpose product that takes up little room but solves a myriad of unwelcome and unexpected ailments. Travelers – this especially applies to you!  As of this writing, the price is $5.99.

Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies: Rosemary Gladstar is the mother of modern herbalism. Her wisdom and vision have inspired an entire generation of herbal healers, and her insights into the healing power of plants have helped people everywhere embrace more natural, healthy, and radiant lives.


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How to Apply Essential Oils for Health and Wellness — 18 Comments

  1. No no no…. you don’t want to ingest essential oils. Here is why:

    Legally, if an oil is to be sold for internal use as flavoring it must be redistilled. Therapeutic grade oils are never redistilled, period. Any vendor advertising that his oils should be ingested is selling food grade (redistilled) oils, or is in violation of the FDA. You can not have it both ways, claiming that your oils are “therapeutic grade” and also legally claiming that they are suited for internal use. If they are redistilled, they are not truly therapeutic grade.
    (from this article:

    And also read this article about why you should not ingest essential oils:

    Honestly, essential oils are so potent that one drop of peppermint oil equals up to 75 cups of peppermint tea. I hear people say “oh, just take 2-3 drops of peppermint oil in water, for your tummy ache” and I am horrified — that is like saying “drink 200 cups of peppermint tea” which no sane person would do.

    I love your posts, I really do, but there is an essential oil craze going on and people don’t understand how powerful these oils are. They can harm you as well. And any joe blow off the street can sell them and make claims, and unsuspecting innocents believe them! (sure, everyone should do their due diligence). But really, unless you are under the care of a certified aromatherapist, you should not listen to anyone who tells you to take essential oils internally.

    I have an essential oil group on Facebook anyone is welcome to join:

    I do not sell any, nor do I recommend any from my blog or my company. I do have a preferred brand but my goal is to educate people, so they don’t harm themselves 🙂 Thanks!

    p.s. I have my diffuser going as I type this!

  2. A great article and you have finally convinced me to get a diffuser. My question is, and I know sometime I am a pain in the patoot, but you know I grow with aquaponics in my greenhouse. I have an aquarium in my living room to breed the tilapia. Is essential oils toxic to fish? I would have the diffuser on the table beside my chair and the fish tank is on the other side of the table, so the fish would get as much “mist” as I would.

    • John – That is a great question and to be honest, I don’t know the answer so I have reached out to some experts to get their opinion. I do know that essential oils should not be added to the water of a fish tank but the mist is so fine, I doubt it would be an issue.

      What about diffusing at night in your bedroom? Anyway, I will try to find a more definitive answer for you.

      PS – You are not a bother.

    • John – Here is what Spark Naturals said “I would probably try to put the diffuser across the room from the fish tank, but I’ve never dealt with that before!”

      Here is what I found on my own:

      Fish cannot tolerate oils or floral waters. The oils, not being water-soluble, would end up sticking to the fish, causing a host of problems, up to and many times, including death. Hydrosols each have their own pH levels, and have the possibility of wreaking havoc on the pH levels within the tank, also causing harm to the fish.

      I still believe in diffusers but in your case, I would use it in the bedroom, away from the fish tank.

    • If this helps, consider an oil spill. No matter how it got there, oil on the surface of the water can cause problems for fish. I’ve never grown tilapia but have had aquariums. I agree with Gaye, do the diffuser in another room. Remember at some point, that mist evaporates and those droplets of oil must go where gravity takes it.

  3. I have had great luck using a pain releiver salve made with 8 oz. of either grapeseed oil or coconut oil, 1-1.5 oz. of natural beeswax and about 12 drops each of Camphor, Eucalyptus, pepermint and 10 drops of lavender. This seams to work on neuralgia, muscle cramps and arthritic or chronic type pain. It does not seem to have much of an effect on bruises or sprains.
    I think it is important to remember on Essential oils is they are very concentrated and often less is more as far as effectiveness. There is a big differnce in potency between a distilled essential oil or crushing a few mint leaves for a tea.

  4. Gaye, I have received my book by Valerie Ann Worwood and I do not find the use of fractionated coconut oil and that is what I bought for my roll on treatment for my hands.I am using a blend recipe for arthritis from the ebook The Aromatherapy Handbook, Marian Johnson. So I am going to use 3 parts geranium and 2 parts lemongrass and 3 parts birch, but how much frac. coconut oil do I use?

    • FCO (fractionated coconut oil) is used in the same proportion as any other carrier oil (almond, grapeseed, olive, etc.). It is quite common for one carrier oil to be substituted for another. If starting from scratch, I would use about 1/2 TBL carrier oil for every 7 or 8 drops of essential oil. That will give you a nice 5% dilution.

      Hope this helps.

  5. What would you suggest for migraines? Mine seem to have come back with a vengeance and my meds don’t seem to be working any more. Tnx

    • Oh my gosh – years ago I suffered from migraines and used some heavy duty meds. Nasty stuff. Without knowing what you have tried, essential-oil wise, I would start with a blend of lavender and peppermint rubbed on your temples and forehead. You can mix the two in a roller bottle with a bit of coconut oil (or other carrier oil) to lessen the chance of your eyes watering. I would also rub the same mixture on the balls of your feet.

      (Note that I am not a medical professional and am only passing on what I do when I get a bad headache.)

      • hmm..strangely enough, that’s on the line of what i was thinking, just wasn’t quite sure…i’ve worked with herbs for a while, just not with eo’s…i just want to get away from stabbing myself in the stomach (’cause it’s easier to reach than the back of my arm) with sumatriptan when i have a migraine, and not having it work *anyway*…that crap *burns* when it goes in!..i’ve a teensy bottle of pepperment eo, but no lavender, only lavender flowers…thanks for the info…may try the headache relief blend, too..or birch, that’s interesting..

    • I do not have any personal experience with this but this information came from my friend Rebecca who I trust implicitly.

      “Tinnitus is described as a ringing in the ears but it can be several different sounds like clicking, whistling or buzzing. Tinnitus isn’t a disease but a symptom of something underlying and most often related to getting older somehow. The symptoms can be very mild or intense with or without dizziness.

      2 drops of Helichrysum on half of a cotton ball.

      Insert gently into affected ears and leave in over night to let the vapor of the oil penetrate into the ear. Helichrysum can be used during the day as needed by adding a drop to a cotton ball and wiping inside the ear.”

      Note: Helichrysum is pretty expensive (worth it if it works) but you might try Geranium, Peppermint, or Lavender first.

      It goes without saying that for something health-related, use quality oils.

      Good luck and let us know if this works.

  6. Gaye,
    Wondering what you think about the book “Essential Oils Desk Reference 6th ed”?
    It is costly so was wondering it is essential for the EO home library.

    • I own the book and refer to it at least once a week. If you can afford it, definitely get it. I ignore some of the advice about ingesting oils but when it comes to finding a solution to an ailment, I love the way it will list a number of oils – all of which will work. That way if I have the #2 item on the list and not the #1, I have an alternative to try.

      Like you, initially I hesitated due to the cost but now I can’t imagine not having this reference in my library.

  7. Hi Gaye, would like your input on a very timely topic – mosquitoes. I live along the Gulf Coast and I seem to be one of those folks that attracts mosquitoes when others don’t, and the bites turn into big whelps. Anyway, someone told to use geranium or lavendar essential oil to ward off mosquitoes – dab it just as tho it were perfume. What do you think?


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