You are currently viewing Oils are Rad Part II – Beyond Smell

Oils are Rad Part II – Beyond Smell

In my previous essential oils article, I shared how I went from an oil skeptic to a true believer. I also discussed how oils are much more than a pretty smell and introduced you to the brand I trust, doTERRA.

Now, things are about to get even more fun! The next few paragraphs are a little science-y, but stay with me. It is worth it to understand the importance of these little oils.

Topical & Internal*/epidermis & intestinal

Essential oils are able to penetrate the cell membrane due to the fact that they are carbon-based, small, and lipophilic (soluble in fat).

How does this work? Well, molecules small enough to penetrate the epidermis (outer layer of skin) pass through the dermis (deeper layers of skin) and enter the bloodstream through capillaries. These molecules are fat soluble and can penetrate cell membranes. They then bind to cell receptors in target organs.

There are two types of ligands, or binding chemicals (messenger molecules), which attach to cell membrane receptors and produce biochemical responses within the cell:

  • Endogenous ligands, such as serotonin, are produced in the body
  • Exogenous ligands are substances that are introduced into the body, such as medications or essential oils and have a similar effect to endogenous ligands.

However, because essential oils are made of the same fundamental chemical building blocks as our bodies (we evolved alongside plants), they are easily metabolized and don’t cause undesirable side effects. They do not deposit themselves in the cells, and they are expelled from the body through sweat, urine, and exhalation within 24 hours. When metabolized and excreted, the kidneys, liver and lymphatic network are also revitalized and detoxified. By contrast, the unnatural molecules of man-made drugs are much more difficult to metabolize and eliminate from our bodies.

Miraculously enough, some essential oils such sandalwood that are comprised of a chemical constituent called sesquiterpenes have even been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and can positively affect the brain! (Sesquiterpenes are oils that have a 15 carbon backbone compared to monoterpenes with a 10 carbon backbone.)

Essential oils can be applied topically to the base of the skull, sides of the neck (indentions), the bones behind ears and across the forehead. You can also apply the oil on your pulse points and the bottoms of your feet. Oils can be diluted in a carrier oil to avoid irritation or other skin reactions. Other methods of application include adding a few drops to bath salts, and unscented beauty and body care products. Internally*, they can be taken in capsules or diluted in water.  (*However, not all essential oils or brands are ingestible, and you should always follow all dosing and safety recommendations.)


Understandably, there is less “hard science” available when it comes to better understanding the energetic component of essential oils. However, just because it can’t yet be “proved” doesn’t mean there isn’t a level of validity in these claims. Some believe that there is a spiritual, or energetic, communication between the plant and human when we use essential oils. For instance, inhaling essential oils that come from trees can have a “grounding” effect.

What is known is that essential oils are highly concentrated extracts of herbal potency (which could be defined as the “spirit” or “soul” of the plant). They are agents of a plant’s adaptation to its environment (similar to our immune systems) and are responsible for the fragrance of the plants. It is also interesting to note that essential oils have the highest bio-frequency of any consumable natural substance.

The Oils

Wow! Are you as blown away as I am by these power-packed oils? And, that is just the beginning…

Combining oils, or blending, can have a synergistic effect, meaning the combined effect is greater than the sum of the parts! When you start to blend different oils with various properties to get intended effects within multiple health domains, you can just imagine how complex this can get.

I can’t help but think of alchemy when I’m blending oils! It is the absolute coming together – the integration – of art and science. But, that is for another article.

For now, let’s keep it simple. Below I’ve listed seven of my favorite oils, in no particular order, and how you can use them.

Oil Use
Lavender All things calming!
Frankincense When in doubt get out your Frank. It is helpful for just about everything and boosts the effects of other oils. No wonder it is called “The King of the Oils”!
Clary Sage Supports multiple “feminine concerns”.  
Helichrysum Nicknamed “liquid stitches”. No joke – the next time you get a scratch, put it on and you can almost see the healing take place in front of your eyes.
Juniper Berry Great for detoxifying.
Melaleuca A strong purifying, germ-destroying natural cleanser. I carry in my purse at all times!
Ylang Ylang Scrumptious and seductive. (aka aphrodisiac)


Commonsense Safety Guidelines

Essential oils are powerful and potent. Caution is recommended when using such strong substances. Always read all safety information and guidelines from the manufacturer regarding the use of your essential oils. For example, some oils should never be used internally and others need to be diluted before applying to your skin. Children, as well as pregnant and lactating women, need to take extra precautions. All oils referenced in this guide refer to the highest standard and quality.

Please note: All information in this article pertains only to pure, unadulterated essential oils. Check the quality of your oils before using them for therapeutic purposes. The information contained within is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent or otherwise reduce the effects of any disease or ailment and has not been evaluated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Dayna Wood Leadership Coach

Dayna Wood EdS, NBCC, LMHC, REAT is a practicing psychotherapist, leadership coach, and corporate consultant. She delights in combining out-of-the-box thinking with solid scientific research, so her clients get the best of both worlds.

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