Home > 2017 March/April > Essential Oils: The Beginner’s Guide

Essential Oils: The Beginner’s Guide

By Tonya Chavis Keener

Have you noticed the increasing popularity of essential oils? These days, it’s hard to miss a display at popular grocery, big box or department stores. Although their popularity has recently grown, essential oils are definitely not new. Historians credit ancient Egyptians and Chinese people as the first to use essential oils as medicines, perfumes and in daily life.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are powerful, natural aromatic compounds found in seeds, stems, bark, roots, flowers, leaves and other parts of plants. They are responsible for aroma, pollination and protection of plants, and commonly contain antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils can be 50-70 times more potent than dried herbs.

How do essential oils work?

The components of essential oils are small molecules that can penetrate the skin and cell membrane and promote cellular healing. Within 20 minutes, every cell in the body can be affected. Adults and children can safely use essential oils to support a wide range of emotional and physical needs. Small amounts (one to two drops for adults, one drop or less for children) per application are effective, and side effects are very minimal when used as recommended. Typical usage methods include:

Aromatically – Sometimes it’s easiest to simply open the bottle and inhale the aroma. A drop in the palm of the hand or drops in a diffuser to filter into the environment are very effective, too.

TopicallyWhen applied directly to the skin, essential oil is absorbed and enters the bloodstream. Oils can be placed directly on an affected area or on the bottoms of the feet for systemic effect. Fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil or extra virgin olive oil can be used to dilute essential oils for application. Diluting is recommended for children, the elderly and those with skin sensitivity.

InternallyOnly pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils should be consumed. Instructions for consumption should be clearly labeled on the bottle. One to two drops under the tongue, in water, tea or a gelatin capsule is often recommended for some oils.

Quality Matters

Purity is one of the most important characteristics of essential oils. Environmental conditions such as climate, soil, terrain and harvest methods are all critical in producing high-quality essential oils. Extracting oils with toxic chemicals or planting in soil treated with pesticides will affect the potency and purity. Sometimes, manufacturers add chemicals or dilute oils to create an impure product. Using these oils can be toxic. It is critical for essential oils to be tested to ensure the highest quality standards.

Popular Essential Oils

  1. Clove – powerful antioxidant properties; supports cardiovascular health, helps clean teeth and gums.


  1. Frankincense supports healthy cellular function, promotes feeling of relaxation, reduces appearance of skin imperfections.


  1. Lavender soothes occasional skin irritations, reduces anxious feeling, promotes peaceful sleep.


  1. Oregano supports healthy immune, digestion and respiratory function; powerful cleansing and purifying agent.


  1. Peppermint promotes healthy respiratory function, digestive health; repels bugs naturally.


Using essential oils is a simple, effective and inexpensive approach to supporting your health. Make sure you communicate your interest in using essential oils with your health care provider. Are you ready to get started?


Tonya Chavis Keener, MS, is a wellness Advocate with dōTERRA International and teaches groups and individuals about essential oils. Before dōTERRA, she spent 20 years in the field of public health as a wellness educator, administrator and consultant. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Tonya at: tonya@living-goodness.com or www.living-goodness.com