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Mental Renewal with Essential Oils

Sometimes we all need to slow down, unwind, and relax. One way to do that is by luxuriating in a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils — aromatic oils extracted from plants. People have been making fragrant essential oils to use in massage oils, perfumes, soaps, incense, and candles. Making your own essential oils can be a fun DIY project, whether you grow the herbs and flowers yourself or buy them!

Make Good Scents
Here are just a few herbs and flowers you can use to make essential oils:

  • Basil
  • Dill 
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

And guess what? You can grow any of these in your backyard garden or on a Tower Garden! Of course, you can also purchase them at a grocery store or farmers market, just be sure to buy organic so you’re not infusing pesticide residue into your oil.

Once you have your herb or flower, you can extract its oil with olive oil or alcohol. (Commercially produced pure essential oils are extracted with steam, but that’s not easily done at home.)

To extract with oil, fill a non-metal container (ceramics work well) with crushed leaves or flowers and pour olive oil over them so they are completely covered. Steep for 24 to 48 hours. Strain the mixture, discard the flowers or leaves, and add fresh ones. Repeat six to eight times, until the oil reaches the desired strength.

To extract with alcohol, use the same process, except with undenatured ethyl alcohol or vodka. Don’t use rubbing alcohol! Alcohol-extracted oils are great for making perfume, because alcohol evaporates quickly on the skin, leaving a concentrated scent behind.

Alter Your Mood
Essential oils are good for your emotional well-being. Lavender oil is particularly beneficial for promoting relaxation and sleep.[1] If you’re feeling stressed out, you can shake a few drops into your palms and breathe it in, or rub it on your feet, wrists, or temples to create tranquility. To use as a sleep aide, rub a few drops of lavender oil onto your pillowcase or add some to a vaporizer or diffuser.

But what if you need a pick-me-up? Peppermint oil  has an energizing effect, helping your brain feel alert and focused. In fact, a 2008 clinical study of 144 healthy volunteers found peppermint aroma enhanced memory and increased alertness.[2] It’s also been shown to alleviate headaches.[3]

Do you use essential oils? What’s your favorite? Share in the comments below!

References
[1] Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy. 2009: Brisbane, Australia.

[2] Moss M, et al. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Int J Neurosci. 2008 Jan;118(1):59-77.

[3] Battaglia S. 2009.

 

 

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