4 min read
By Dana Wood | January 21, 2020
If it seems like everywhere you turn there's a line of essential oils being marketed to you, it's not your imagination; according to one recent report, global sales of essential oils are expected to reach approximately 22 billion USD by 2022, up from 17 billion USD in 2017. While Europe accounts for a large chunk of that number, the U.S. is tied with Asia Pacific for second place.
In other words, we've become massive consumers of essential oils. And for good reason. As long as you're using high quality, pure-grade stuff, essential oils can confer a host physical and psychological benefits, including digestive help, a boost in energy and relief of anxiety and depression. And hello, they're just plain intoxicating to use - a healthy, natural wellness time-out for a crazy world.
Given the growing popularity of essential oils, it's hardly a shocker that die-hard fans want to "share the love" with diffusers. But just like the oils themselves, there's a huge range in quality with diffusers, and an entire type (the kind that heats up) that should be avoided at all costs.
To gain insight into this topic, we consulted one of our favorite books, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution: Reclaim Your Energy and Focus and Lose Weight Naturally by Dr. Mariza Snyder (Rodale, 2019; check out our review here.)
We also reached out to essential oils savant Hope Gillerman, founder of H. Gillerman Organics and author of the definitive text on the subject - Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals & Remedies for Healing, Happiness and Beauty (HarperElixir, 2016).
After doing our research, here are the..
1. It's all about ultrasonic. Both Snyder and Gillerman recommend ultrasonic diffusers, which deploy vibrations to transform a mixture of water vapor and essential oils into a superfine, airborne mist. "This is the gentle, safe, easy to clean option that disperses oil in a mist of water," Gillerman explains. In contrast, writes Snyder, "Other diffusers blow air through an oil-soaked pad, but this just doesn't do the job like an ultrasonic cool-air diffuser."
2. For extra power, "nebulizers" also get high marks. For a stronger blast, try a nebulizer. By atomizing essential oils in a series of tubes, nebulizers deliver them in their most potent form. "I like to use a nebulizer to prep a bedroom for sleep because they work really well," says Gillerman. "And then you can turn it off right before you go to bed so the sound won't bother you. They're noisy."
3. Avoid any type of heat-based diffuser like the plague."Heat destroys the natural chemistry of the oils, hence their natural healing benefits," says Gillerman. "Plus you risk burning the oils, and making your diffuser a dirty mess. This includes heated ceramic stones, candle diffusers that plug into your lighter and even aromatherapy candles."
4. Don't just leave it running all day. "Though many people prefer sustained diffusion, I recommend only diffusing an hour at a time and then taking a break to give your systems a reset," writes Snyder. With an ultrasonic diffuser, even after you switch it off, "the oils can then remain suspending in the air for several hours for sustained breathable benefits."
5. You might have a favorite oil, but definitely switch it up. "Your mind and body need the stimulation of changing oils or blends to get the full benefits of diffusing," says Gillerman. "Using the same oil every day is not effective since our body habituates to the oil and the benefits decline."
6. It's important to buy a diffuser you won't want to hide. "I prefer diffusers that are attractive and hold the space, design-wise, so you can put them wherever you want," Gillerman notes. "The more you like them as objects, the more you'll use them. I'm always hearing stories of people who lose interest in their diffusers."
7. Your humidifier or vaporizer absolutely cannot double as your diffuser. Because they weren't built to interact with essential oils, the plastics that humidifiers and vaporizers were crafted with can break down upon contact and release toxins into the air. No thank you.
8. If you have asthma or any type of respiratory condition, check with your doc before diffusing. "Many people with respiratory difficulties have found great success with diffusers," writes Snyder, "but you always want to err on the side of caution," particularly if you're on meds for your condition.
9. Kids / grandkids and diffusers don't mix. Even if the youngsters under your roof are bouncing off the walls with a case of the kid-crazies, don't even think of calming them down with a quick blast of lavender or rose. Miniature lungs just aren't made for inhaling essential oils, even if you up the water-to-oil ratio. Pets, particularly cats, can also be adversely affected by diffused essential oils.
10. Think citrus. While citrus oils like bergamot, grapefruit and orange can be highly photo-sensitizing (translation: they're magnets for sunburn), they're a total delight misted into the air. "These are wonderfully 'happy-making' oils that pretty much everyone likes," says Gillerman. "The orange oils are calming. Grapefruit, lemon and lime are stimulating. And bergamot lies in the middle. Use these."
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