When Laurie Klem, of Goodland, Kan., leaves home, she carries 10 essential oils in her purse for emergencies. When she travels, she takes a dozen or more.
Klem, who has been using essential oils for 19 years and teaches classes about them, said they have come in handy. One day her husband was having pain in his rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. She had peppermint oil that she carries for headaches.
“I took three drops and spent a couple of minutes massaging it in,” she said. After a few minutes, his pain subsided.
“He said, ‘Wow, I had no idea just straight peppermint worked that well.’ ”
Now you can find essential oils here at Emergency Essentials.
Here are a few that Klem keeps in her purse as a first aid kit.
“[Lavender] is at the top of the list as good for anything relating to the skin,” Klem said.
A few years ago, she accidentally overturned a pot of boiling water on her arm.
“I doused it with lavender oil,” she said. She feels multiple lavender oil treatments were the reason she has no scars on her arm.
She also said it helps her relax. After all, many bath products contain lavender.
“Lavender with Epsom salts (in a bath) is great for unwinding at the end of the day,” she said.
A few cautions: Lavender essential oil can cause irritation if applied directly to the skin and is poisonous if swallowed, according to Homesteading, a 2009 book edited by Abigail Gehring.
Elementa Essentials, our brand of essential oils, recommends cutting most essential oils by putting 3-10 drops in an ounce of vegetable oil or lotion before applying it to skin.
Klem said lavender oil is the one of the most common “faked” products on the market and recommended avoiding products with the word “scented” on their labels.
“It’s not coming from the actual plant,” she said. “Scented equals fake.”
Klem uses peppermint essential oil for headaches, stomach aches, and muscle pain, as well as a decongestant.
She used to dilute it and rub it on her children’s knees when they had growing pains. She joked that when she’d rub the oil on one of her children’s joints, “the next thing you know, everybody has growing pains.”
A drop could also help soothe stomach pain. Klem believes a daily concoction of peppermint oil and lemon oil in water, in combination with a careful diet and healthy sleep habits, has kept her husband’s acid reflux under control.
Peppermint oil has some of the most reliable evidence suggesting it could be effective for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome, according to a 2014 review in the journal Digestion.
Don’t use too much, though. Peppermint oil is considered fairly safe in small doses but can have side effects of allergic reaction and heartburn, according to Homesteading.
Lemon oil is a natural cleanser. It contains d-limonene, a compound found in citrus peels that can help reduce some types of cell damage, according to a 2015 study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. D-limonene is used all over the place, from cooking to cleaning to cosmetics.
D-limonene is safe but has a slight possibility of skin irritation when used in large amounts in cosmetics according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.
Melaleuca – or tea tree – is one of Klem’s “go-to” oils.
It could have antibacterial and antifungal properties, she said, so her family uses it to treat cuts and athlete’s foot. Klem’s family runs a bison ranch, and she uses it to treat wounds on livestock.
Elementa Essentials suggests using it in small amounts to clean skin and nails. Its strong smell might also work as an insect repellent.
Klem finds rosemary a useful multipurpose oil.
She puts it on her temples or forehead to help her concentrate. She also uses it for colds, dandruff, healthy hair, and headaches. When she has a migraine she applies it all around her scalp along the hairline. She says it could help heal a yeast infection, but recommends it only after consultation with an expert.
Not all uses for rosemary may be entirely effective. Like this “Lotion for the Cure and Prevention of Baldness,” from a Victorian-era advice book, Enquire Within Upon Everything: Eau-de-Cologne, two ounces; tincture of cantharides, two drachms; oil of rosemary, oil of nutmeg, and oil of lavender, each ten drops. To be rubbed on the bald part of the head every night.
Health Defense is an oil blend sold here, and contains orange peel, cloves, cinnamon bark, lemon peel, rosemary and eucalyptus leaf. Klem said she uses a similar oil blend more than all of her other essential oils combined. She says her family members apply it or spray it in their throats at the first exposure to illness.
“When winter starts, I try to have ten bottles of the stuff around,” she said.
We suggest rubbing it onto wrists, misting it into the air and dabbing it in spots near food storage, door entryways, and campsites.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says essential oils may be used in three different ways: internally as a dietary supplement, topically and aromatically.
Elementa Essentials does not recommend using any of its products internally without a doctor’s approval. The same caveat applies if you’re pregnant, on medication, or have sensitive skin.
It’s not a great idea to apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. Elementa Essentials recommends you put 3-10 drops in an ounce of vegetable oil or lotion. Klem said she sometimes dilutes with almond oil because it is thinner oil with smaller molecules that absorb more quickly into the bloodstream. Since children’s bodies respond more quickly to medicines, she prefers coconut oil for them because its molecules are larger and take longer to get into the bloodstream. She also uses olive oil, with an absorption rate between the other two oils.
Aromatically means using a diffuser to spray a diluted oil mixture into a room. Diffusers are available at many online retailers, Klem said.
No matter how she dispenses it, she uses very little oil at a time because it’s so potent.
“All you need is one drop most of the time, for most things,” she said.
Do you use essential oils for emergencies? Is it something you would consider? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Interview with Laurie Klem, 8/19/15
Gehring, Abigail R. (2009-11-01). Homesteading: A Backyard Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More (Back to Basics Guides) (Kindle Locations 2-3). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Enquire Within Upon Everything: The Great Victorian Domestic Standby (Kindle Locations 8689-8691). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.