Using a diffuser to dispense the healing qualities of essential oils is one of the easiest ways to become accustomed to their use. Say, for example, someone in your home is sick with a cold or flu. Adding 5 or 6 drops of an anti-microbial essential oil to a diffuser will allow the healing qualities of the oil to disperse and circulate around the room, benefiting all if its occupants.
Likewise, if you are having problems breathing, a few drops of an essential oil running in a diffuser can clear the nasal passages and allow you to breathe more easily, especially at night. If this sounds familiar to the old fashioned vaporizer our mother’s put in our rooms as kids, you are correct. The concept is the same but instead of breathing in a chemical cocktail invented by the OTC drug industry, you are breathing something plant based that is actually good for you.
In this article, I share with you some of the benefits of using an essential oil diffuser along with alternatives for those times when a diffuser is not available. I also suggest specific oils and blends to get you started.
The Role of Smell In Staying Healthy
Smell plays a large role in the way essential oils affect the body. Let me walk you through it.
As we breathe the aroma from an essential oil, the receptors in the nose are stimulated. These, in turn, send a chemical message through our nerve system and to the brain’s limbic system. Moods, emotions and physical health are affected. This process, collectively, is what is commonly referred to as aromatherapy.
Alas, credible scientific research on these effective use of essential oils for healing is spotty at best. This article from the University of Minnesota gives the following reasons.
Essential Oils are not standardized
It is difficult to conduct blind studies with aromatic substances
It is difficult to get approval and funding for research on essential oils (no surprise there).
It is difficult to tell what caused the outcome.
Much of the research that does exist has been either conducted or funded by essential oils companies themselves. The results of the research may be valid but to me, that is like asking your favorite cousin to give you a glowing job reference. It may be true, but then again, it may be rigged.
Still, anecdotal evidence is abundant, and much of it comes from professional aromatherapists who have made it their life’s work to treat individuals with the use of essential oils. Many if not most do not have a relationship with a specific brand name; they simply want the best product for the job.
Although I am not a scientist, health professional, or trained aromatherapist, I do believe that the use of essential oils is a diffuser is beneficial to our health and well-being The benefits I outline for you are benefits I have personally experienced and for me, it does not get much better than that.
Note: For the most part, the essential oils below are not-brand specific. The exceptions are some proprietary blends that I use myself on on ongoing basis.
11 Benefits of Using Essential Oils with a Diffuser
Avoid Colds and Flu
Many essential oils are anti-microbial and when used in a diffuser, can collide with airborne pathogens before they have a chance to invade your body and attack your immune system.
Suggested: Melaleuca (also known as tea tree), Oregano, Shield Protective Blend
At the end of the day, many of us are wound up tight, managing our to-do list in our head, and focused on the coulda, woulda, shouldas of life. A bedside diffuser is calming with the added bonus of running for up to 6 hours throughout the night, promoting relaxation and blissful sleep.
Suggested: Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Bliss Calming Blend
Relax and De-Stress
I wish I could say that stress was a 21st century ailment but my guess is that stress from jobs, relationships, chores, and just the process of surviving have been around for a long, long time. I remember being stressed in high school, college, early in my career, and even now, when life should be slowing down. Relaxation? What’s that? Diffusing essential oils can be a major stress reliever, whether during the workday, with a diffuser sitting on your desk, or in the evening, while winding down from a busy day.
Suggested: Wild orange, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Zen Grounding Blend
Essential oils are effective in turning a bad day into a good day b elevating your mood and giving you a boot in energy. This helps when you are sad or depressed or just plain tired. Try diffusing a blend of oils after a long day of work or chores and feel rejuvenated and ready to enjoy the evening, whatever you happen to be doing.
Suggested: Wild Orange, Lavender, Geranium
Purify and Cleanse the Air
Say you forgot to take the garbage out and you walk into the house after being gone for awhile only to realize the place stinks and stinks big time. Funny how we don’t notice the smell until we leave the house and come back!
Suggested: Any Citrus (Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit), Refresh Cleansing Blend
Essential oils can be clarity to your work and help you focus on the task at hand. This is especially true during the work day, when you have a project deadline and can’t seem to focus on what needs to be done to bring it to completion.
Suggested: Wild Orange combined with Cedarwood or Zen Grounding Blend
This is typically one of the number on reasons someone will invest in a diffuser and begin using essential oils. Not only will essential oils will clear the nasal passages, but they will also travel throughout the respiratory system, soothing the sinuses and lungs.
Suggested: Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Respire Respiratory Blend
One of the best ways to avoid illness is to have a strong immune system. This allows your body to fight bacteria and viruses that are just waiting to attack and take you down. Seriously, a diffuser misting antimicrobial and antibacterial oils will go a long way in helping you avoid any “bugs” that are going around. This is especially true while traveling and staring in hotels where someone else has stayed just hours prior to your arrival
Suggested: Oregano, Melaleuca, and any robbers-type blend such as Shield Protective Blend
Relieve Headache Pain
Relieving a headache via the topical use of an essential oils is quite common. You can extend that relief by also using a diffuser. This is especially true with one of the those nagging headaches that keep coming back. I like to follow-up topical treatment with diffused oils.
Suggested: Lavender, Peppermint, Relief Headache Blend
Repel Insects and Other Unwanted Visitors
Bugs seem to be repelled by essential oils and especially peppermint. In addition to putting peppermint infused cotton balls in your cupboards and closets, essential oils in a diffuser helps control flying insects such as house flies, mosquitoes, fruit flies, and even or moths.
Suggested: Peppermint, Cedarwood, clove, Lemongrass, Lavender
Safe Alternative to Candles
Candles are an age old tool for inspiring calm and promoting romance. That said, candles have the potential of causing a fire or being knocked over, splashing hot wax on both people and furniture. With a diffuser, you avoid the risk and mess.
Suggested oils: Any oil you find pleasant
No Diffuser? Try This Alternative
As much as I love diffusers, as a practical matter, I know that there are times when one may not be available. Or perhaps a diffuser is not in the budget. If that is the case, try steam inhalation instead.
There are two ways you can do this. One of the easiest is to place 1 or 2 drops of an essential oil or blend onto a tissue or handkerchief then bring it up to your nose and inhale. It takes a while for the oils to dissipate so you can do this many times throughout the day with good results. Of course, a handkerchief will hold up better than a tissue!
The second method is to add 3 to 5 drops of oil to a steaming bowl of hot water. Cover your head with a towel that is large enough to reach over the sides of the bowl. With your face 12 inches away from the bowl and your eyes shut, inhale deeply. Repeat again several times over the period of 5 or 10 minutes.
What Does Antimicrobial Mean?
When studying essential oils, you will see this term used a lot. Sometimes you will even see the word anti-microbial used interchangeably with the term “antibiotic” but that is wrong. Here is a definition I can live with:
An ANTIMICROBIAL is any substance of natural, semisynthetic or synthetic origin that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms but causes little or no damage to the host.
All antibiotics are antimicrobials, but not all antimicrobials are antibiotics.
Source: Michigan State University
Many 100% pure essential oils are a natural antimicrobial with far fewer side effects than antimicrobials of synthetic origin.
The use of essential oils for healing is somewhat controversial and so, to present a balanced article, I share the following resources so you can continue your own research.
If you are interested in learning about the history of aromatherapy, Aromaweb has an article you may find interesting. .http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/history.asp
Another interesting article is The Science of Essential Oils: Does Using Scents Make Sense? It states:
“Although many essential oils have pleasant smells and some of their active ingredients are purported to have health benefits, there is limited scientific evidence that they actually improve people’s health or mood.”
I tend to agree that there is little in the way of scientific evidence although anecdotal evidence, including my own, is substantial.
And finally, this article for the NIH describes the promising use of essential oils to relieve the symptomatic effect of disease (cancer mostly) along with a medically-based Q&A: Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
A Word About Essential Oils
In the article, I have outlined some of the benefits of using an essential oil diffuser to promote a positive attitude, good health, and general well-being. In addition, as I mentioned above, I have also tried to avoid being brand-specific, since the value of using essential oils comes from their use, and there are many fine essential oil companies in the marketplace.
That said, I do prefer essential oils from Spark Naturals, an online company located in Orem, Utah. They sell a high-quality product at reasonable prices. They provide one up-pricing and there are no membership fees. In addition, they offer my readers a 10% across the board discount when they use my coupon code, BACKDOORSURVIVAL, at checkout.
Spark Naturals also has weekly sales which I share on a special page on this website. You will find the link to the right-hand position of the top menu bar. You will find this week’s special below.
The Final Word
In Part 2 of this series, I will talk more specifically about diffusers and will review one of my current favorites. I will also explain how they work and maintenance procedures to keep them in tip-top shape. Finally, I will share some of my favorite DIY blends (called synergies) made from essential oils I keep on hand at all times.
Essential oils are not snake oil and much of what I share comes from my own experience as I have made them a part of my everyday life. They are an important part of my overall survival strategy, not only for first aid, but for stress relief, wellness, and for maintenance of a healthy and strong immune system.
I wish you good health in good times and bad!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!