Essential oils are highly concentrated natural extracts from the leaves, flowers and stems of plants. These oils have a wide range of medicinal and therapeutic properties, making them a powerful tool in your holistic medicine cabinet!

Essential oils can help promote healthy sleep, relieve headaches, and decrease pain. In addition, they can benefit skin conditions, bolster immunity, and encourage healthy digestion.


The most common ways to use essential oils are inhaled, diffused, topically and internally. Let’s discuss each of these methods, along with their benefits and tips for using them safely.

Also please note that the following applies to adults. Because children are smaller, more sensitive and still developing, it is important to understand that the rules of essential oil usage may be different. See more information here.

Additionally, caution should be taken when using essential oils around pets as well. See more information here.

1. Inhaled

Inhalation is the simplest method for using essential oils. Simply open a bottle of pure essential oil and inhale, taking a few deep breaths. For example, you might do this with lavender oil in order to relax before bed.

You can also create a steam inhalation using essential oils. An example of this method would be a eucalyptus steam tent used to break up congestion and support the lungs and respiratory system.

Simply adding a few drops of essential oil while taking a hot shower, or placing a few drops into a bathtub before soaking, would also create a steam inhalation.

Other methods of inhalation include adding essential oils to a cotton pad made for the air vents in your car or adding a few drops to a warm, wet washcloth and laying it on your face or chest while you relax.

2. Diffused

An essential oil diffuser is a device that disperses essential oils into the air. Certain types of humidifiers may work as diffusers; check with the manufacturer if this interests you.

Essential oils can be diffused into a room for both their pleasant scent and their therapeutic properties. In the winter, we often diffuse essential oil blends that have antiviral and antibacterial properties in our office and home.

Click here for information on our favorite waterless atomizing diffuser that lets you diffuse up to four different essential oils simultaneously.

3. Topically 

You can use essential oils for massage and skincare in a variety of ways. Certain essential oils will help relieve muscle pain, tightness and tension and can be added to a carrier oil (such as a jojoba or almond oil) for massage. Other essential oils can be added to your favorite cosmetic products such as toners, moisturizers, shampoos or conditioners to benefit the skin and hair.

Essential oils can also be rubbed into the soles of the feet to help bolster immunity, on the temples to relieve headaches, or on the breasts or abdomen to assist with menstrual discomfort.

Please note that while some essential oils can be used on the skin undiluted, others are more potent and must be diluted with a carrier oil. Avoid using essential oils near sensitive areas (such as the eyes or nose) and do not apply them to broken, inflamed, or irritated skin.

Additionally, certain citrus oils (such as lemon or orange) can cause photosensitivity when skin is exposed to sunlight after use. Avoid using on any areas of skin that will be exposed to the sun within 8 hours.

4. Internally 

Ingesting, or the internal use of essential oils, is somewhat controversial. Some feel that essential oils are safe to take directly by placing drops into the mouth (or into veggie capsules, food, or water) for ingestion. Others believe that the potency of essential oils makes this dangerous for the microbiome and may disrupt our healthy gut bacteria and irritate our intestinal mucosal lining.

Like most things, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer and this should be discussed with your health professional and personalized for you.

We generally choose to use essential oils internally using methods such as mouth rinses and gargles. This way the oils go into the mouth and can exert their antimicrobial effects, but they are not swallowed or ingested.

If you use essential oils internally, please ensure the essential oil is food grade and safe for internal use.

About Debbie Steinbock, HHC

After years of being told that she had an "incurable" chronic health condition, Debbie turned to her diet to help her understand her disease, restore her body, and regain control of her health. Her personal journey has given her the knowledge and compassion necessary to help her clients take an active role in their own healing. Since starting her practice in 2000, Debbie has successfully helped hundreds of people across the country to improve their diet, enhance their current state of health, and eliminate a variety of health conditions.

The information on our website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitution for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions.

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