Essential Oils for a Clean Home and Healthy Living

Essential oils are aromatic liquid extracts derived from various plant parts such as flowers, leaves, twigs, barks, roots and rhizomes. Essential oils naturally occur in plants to attract pollinators and to repel potentially harmful insects and animals. They are part of the defense system in plants. In the human body and in the home, essential oils also act as an effective defense system.

Most essential oils are composed of antimicrobial, antiseptic and/or insecticidal constituents. One of the advantages of using essential oils, or aromatherapy, for healthy living is that they can be applied in a plethora of ways around the home and for personal care.

Aromatherapy diffusers or candles can give the home a pleasant smell or can lift one’s mood, while simultaneously purifying the air of unwanted odors and health hazards from pets, mold, mildew and rotting food. The spread of contagious viruses, such as those causing the common cold and influenza, can be prevented through aromatherapy.

Diffusing is the best way to affect mood when feeling sad, anxious, stressed or low energy, as essential oils go directly to the limbic system (the part of the brain involved in behavioral and emotional responses) via the olfactory nerve once they are inhaled through the nose. Inhalation of diff used oils can result in instantaneous changes in mood and energy. Peppermint is a wonderfully refreshing scent that can be used to boost mental stimulation in the morning or afternoon, while lavender makes a great soothing and relaxing scent to help calm and prepare the body for a deep, restful sleep. Citrus oils such as lemon and grapefruit will brighten the day when motivation is lacking and spirits are low.

When it comes to cleaning the home, there are many applications for essential oils. Adding a little vinegar and a blend of essential oils such as lemon and pine to hot water creates an effective, natural and safe way to clean floors without resorting to toxic chemicals that could be harmful to people and pets. A spray bottle with water, a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent, borax and lavender or eucalyptus makes an excellent way to clean countertops and tables. Applying undiluted peppermint, citronella, lemongrass and/or cinnamon oils around holes, cracks and crevices is a simple, easy and effective way of deterring unwanted house pests such as ants and mice.

There has been an increasing demand for aromatherapy and natural body care products in recent years. Lip balm, bath salts, soap, toothpaste, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner with essential oils can be found in many retail stores. Essential oils enhance the scent and the therapeutic benefits of these products. For example, tea tree is used in shampoos to alleviate dandruff. Geranium makes an excellent natural deodorant. Myrrh helps to heal wounds quickly and lavender is used to reduce scarring. When safer, natural alternatives that contain therapeutic essential oils are so readily available, there is no need to ingest synthetic and potentially harmful products.

Michael Dell’Orfano is a registered aromatherapist and licensed acupuncturist at Life Qi Holistic Medicine located at 150 Wood Rd., Ste. 403, Braintree. For more information, visit

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