Over the past few years, our family has really enjoyed learning more about and using essential oils in our home. Maybe you are new to essential oils or wanting to deepen your knowledge about them so you can use them for your family as well!

I thought I’d share today what I’ve learned about how essential oils actually work. As a fairly skeptical person who is not given to extremes, I wanted to understand what the point was in using essential oils as opposed to always using conventional methods for maintaining my family’s health.

How do essential oils work

What are Essential Oils?

Basically, essential oils are concentrated, liquid plant extracts that are often used for therapeutic and medicinal purposes. They’re called “essential” because they contain the essence of a plant, including its aroma and health properties.

Essential oils can be taken from almost any plant. They come from various sources including leaves, flowers, fruits, grasses and more. The liquid that comes out is the “essence”.

Oils are extracted from plants using both processes of distillation and expression.

If you’ve ever used essential oils, you probably notice that they hover on the surface of water, similar to a plant oil like olive or canola (fixed oils). However, they are not really oily to the touch like fixed oils, typically used for baking and cooking.

essential oils1

How do Essential Oils Work?

The essence (chemical composition) is what makes oils effective as they interact with the body. They have elements that provide benefits such as being:

  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-viral
  • Immune system stimulating
  • Cell regenerating
  • Mucus loosening
  • Calming
  • Relaxants
  • Expectorant
  • Fragrant
  • Detoxifying

Think of it as similar to fruits and vegetables that you eat–each individual produce item has a number of benefits for your health and bodily functions. Some of them are more powerful and effective when eaten together, such as the Vitamin C in an orange that helps with the absorption of iron in dark leafy greens.

The same idea is there for essential oils. They can be effective alone and yet in combination can be even more beneficial. That’s why you come across a lot of essential oil “blends”.

(If you want to know more about what elements and compounds are found in oils, see this article.)

Essential oils effect your body primarily through aroma and absorption. Essential oil molecules are extremely small and are therefore very easily absorbed.


How Can Essential Oils Be Used?

Essential oils enter the body in three ways. They can be:

  • Inhaled
  • Applied to the skin
  • Ingested (see note)

The most effective way to use EOs is through diffusion (this was something that really surprised me–I figured topically was the best!). There are a number of diffusers on the market (I share my favorite in my free essential oils eCourse!)

Applying oils topically is the second most effective method of using them. Topically they are applied by mixing a correct ratio of EOs with a carrier oil. I get into that whole process and how you can effectively use carrier oils and how to mix them with essential oils properly in my essential oil course (which you can receive via email for free!).

When essential oils are absorbed through the skin or lungs, they are distributed throughout the body and interact with various organs and bodily systems. Your blood system functions as a highway delivering essential oils directly to your organs. This is where the benefits of EOs are maximized!

*From what I have read and have been advised, ingestion of essential oils should be done only under the professional care of an aromatherapist. Oils are extremely potent so we want to be careful with how we take them into our bodies. Therefore, we don’t ingest our oils :) 

beginner's guide to essential oils

But Do Essential Oils Actually Work?

Oils from plants have been used for a variety of purposes since Bible times (Ezekiel 47:12 and James 5:14 for example), and in more recent history, essential oils began to be distilled from plants to be used in immune strengthening, calming, wound healing and more!

Though essential oils have been used therapeutically for centuries, published research on them remains fairly scarce. It has been interesting though to read of studies that have taken place regarding the antibacterial properties of essential oils, the effectiveness of tea tree oil and geranium oil on fighting MRSA (staph infections), and various GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) tests on the purity and chemical compounds in essential oils to help understand what makes them useful and helpful. There have also been groups looking more recently at the effective use of aromatheraphy for cancer patients. Sometimes it is hard to conduct research on essential oils and this article highlights reasons why.

There are thousands of personal testimonies from individuals who have used and benefited from essential oils. I was initially skeptical of these claims, especially when they were combined with the promotion of an MLM oils company but through friends I trust and through our own experiences with oils, I have come to believe that they do indeed work!

Compounds found in nature such as vinegar, clay, spices, and more were used thousands of years before what we refer to as “conventional products” were ever on the market.

Does it mean that a person is wrong to use newer methods of cleaning, health care, etc? Certainly not. But for me personally, I’m finding that I am more geared toward simplicity and frugality….much like the way my grandmothers used to take care of their families and homes.

The bottom line that I’ve learned from all of these studies I’ve perused, along with our family’s personal experience with them, is that they are helpful and a great alternative to conventional options. I still use conventional items of course, when the situation calls for it, but I want to use them in moderation.

We as a family have found essential oils to be incredibly useful for what ails us, great for diffusing around our home to give it a peaceful, healthy environment and a frugal, safe way to clean.

Take My Getting Started Guide to Using Essential Oils with Kids eCourse!


If you’re wanting to give essential oils a try for your family but don’t want to buy any before you know how you can actually use them, or if you have a few oils in your cabinet but have little idea what to do with them when it comes to kids, I’d encourage you to sign up for my Getting Started Guide to Using Essential Oils for Children eCourse!

What Will You Learn in this Course About Essential Oils for Kids?

Some of the things you’ll learn in the course:

  • Safe use of oils based on age
  • How to apply them for maximum effectiveness
  • The three most versatile oils and how to use them
  • How to dilute, diffuse and apply oils so they work
  • Simple recipes that you can easily DIY for cleaning and health

There is NO MLM required to take this course. I have a company from whom I purchase our oils (which is not an MLM*) but you can use any kind of oils you prefer as long as they are good quality oils (see this post for more tips on how to make sure).

I would LOVE to have you join me so that you can have confidence in using essential oils safely and effectively with your children!

Learn More!

*An MLM is a multi-level marketing company, where distributors work for a larger company through which they sell items at a tiered commission rate. In the essential oil world, these would include DoTerra and Young Living.

*FDA disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.”

**I am not a medical professional, just a mom who likes to help her kids with essential oils. Please consult your doctor before using essential oils!


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