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July 22, 2017

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Natural healing: What to know before buying essential oils

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Lavender calms nerves and is well-suited for bedtime.

WHERE TO SHOP

Essential oils can be found at most health food stores and specialty grocers such as Sprouts and Whole Foods Market.

• Herbally Grounded — 4441 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas

• The Spirit Within U — 4343 N. Rancho Drive, Suite 242, Las Vegas

WARNING

Keep essential oils away from children and pets, as the oils can be toxic. Also, pregnant women should be careful when choosing and using oils. Rosemary, clary sage and jasmine, for example, can induce labor and kickstart contractions. Anyone taking medications should check with a doctor before using essential oils.

TIP

Top-of-the-line essential oils should be organic, 100 percent pure oil and sold in a dark-colored glass bottle. Avoid buying oils from retailers that do not provide the essential oil’s botanical name, country of origin and method of extraction.

Fight headaches. Clear acne. Disinfect countertops. Jumpstart weight loss.

The same essential oils many people use to give fragrance to candles and potpourri have myriad health and household uses.

But with dozens of types of essential oils available, it’s hard to know which to buy and how to use them. Here’s a guide to get you started.

What are essential oils

Essential oils are derived from leaves, roots, flowers and other parts of plants. Naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are extracted and made into highly concentrated solutions. Although interest in them has risen in recent years, essential oils have been used for thousands of years as a natural way to treat illnesses.

Natural healing

• Eucalyptus: Perfect for easing congestion and cleansing the air in your home. Use a diffuser with a few drops of oil added. Or boil a quart of water, add four drops of eucalyptus oil and breathe the cooled steam for instant sinus relief.

• Tea tree: Breakouts can be banished with this antimicrobial oil. Tea tree reduces bacteria and treats inflammation. Mix two drops with a teaspoon of unscented lotion. Tea tree also combats dandruff. Add a drop as you shampoo.

• Jasmine: Jasmine is a proven mood booster when mixed with a carrier oil and rubbed into skin. For best results, rub onto your shoulders and temples.

• Peppermint: Peppermint dulls pain receptors thanks to the menthol it releases. It’s a go-to if you are prone to tension headaches. Mix two drops of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil and rub it onto your temples. Peppermint also is good for relieving stomach discomfort. Swallow 1/2 teaspoon, but only if you are using pure, ingestible oil. Otherwise, stick to peppermint tea.

• Bergamot and cinnamon: Fight stress-eating and curb cravings by working these oils into your daily routine. Bergamot contains polyphenols, which are found in green tea and help slow fat production and speed up metabolism. Place one drop in a teaspoon of honey or add a drop to 4 ounces of almond milk. Cinnamon promotes fullness and breaks down sugar after meals. Add a few drops to a 6-ounce cup of hot water with honey in the morning and just before bed.

• Lavender: De-stress with this. Lavender calms nerves and is well-suited for bedtime. Add a few drops to unscented body lotion or to the tub before bed.

What to know before you buy

There can be a huge price difference among essential oils, both online and in stores. Which you choose and how much you should pay depend on what you plan to do with the oils.

For diffusing, using a low-grade, cheaper oil isn’t detrimental to the scent or the effects of the oil. High-grade oils are necessary if you plan to use the oil on your skin or ingest it.

Quality essential oils can last up to a decade and are extremely potent, so little is needed to produce results.

As with food and beauty products, people can suffer allergic reactions to oils, especially if they are not used correctly. Most oils must be diluted to avoid irritating your skin. Dilute the concentrations with carrier oils or lotions. For instance, mix lavender oil with coconut oil to moisturize, or tea tree oil with a moisturizer to clear skin. Good carrier oils include jojoba, grapeseed, argon and coconut.

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