Dr. Eric Zielinski is a pioneer in natural living. After being sick as a young child and recovering from several chronic diseases in his early 20s, Dr. Zielinski is on a mission to share the evidence-based approach to natural living that empowered him to regain control of his health. Formally trained as an aromatherapist, public health researcher, and chiropractor, he’s breaking down the best ways to incorporate essential oils into your daily routine—read on for more!
Let’s go back to the basics. What are essential oils? Why are they called “essential”?
Essential oils are neither essential nor are they oils. They are hydrophobic, fat-loving, plant-based compounds. Technically, they’re volatile organic compounds, meaning they’re carbon-based compounds. Certain off-gassing volatile compounds can be harmful, but essential oils are healthy volatile organic compounds. Think about smelling a rose—that familiar scent is actually created by volatile organic compounds. The little particles evaporate in the air and your nose detects a smell. Your sense of smell interacts directly with your lymphatic system, brain, mood, and emotions.
How can and should essential oils be used in skin care?
Essential oils always needs to be diluted with a carrier oil. Choose a fatty oil like olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil. Any kitchen staples are ideal; if you want to use more traditional aromatherapy oils, then you’ll want to go with sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, or MCT oil. A few of the essential oils that stand out to me for skin care are:
- Lavender: Promotes restfulness and can help to calm acne and candida.
- Helichrysum: This is also known as the “fountain of youth” for its anti-aging properties.
- Rose: While this can get very pricey, you can find a blend that includes rose instead. It’s very invigorating and it supports youthful skin; just a few drops goes a long way.
- Frankincense: Helps heal blemishes and skin tags.
My wife has created a “skin-healing serum” that’s a mix of aloe vera gel, coconut oil, lavender, helichrysum, and frankincense. The key is diluting it properly—2% dilution is considered safe for DIY preparations. That means for every 1 ounce of carrier oil, add 12 drops of the essential oil. If you can’t DIY or don’t have the time to make your own serums, choose a completely unscented lotion or conditioner, then add essential oils to it. Easy!
How do you use essential oils for safer cleaning products?
Great question! The citrus oils have an uncanny ability to extract grease, grime, and goo. My top recommendations are:
Plus, these are more affordable options!
For the most common household troubles, such as bugs and mold, there are a few blends to try combining with castile unscented cleaner. I specifically recommend:
- Bug repellent: Peppermint oil is key for cockroaches, mice, and ants. Simply spot-treat the areas that need assistance.
- Moldy showers: Mix together tea tree, clove, and eucalyptus oil, and scrub away!
We also make your own “immunity blend” that is great for cleaning. It’s equal parts clove, cinnamon leaf or cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon, and orange essential oils. Combine 10 drops of your immunity blend, 10 drops of aloe vera, 10 drops of witch hazel (acts as an astringent), and 10 drops of highest-proof vodka into a container, then top with water. This makes a great hand sanitizer and counter cleaner!
What can you cook using essential oils?
We have a new book, “The Essential Oils Diet,” that came out on May 7. This new book hinges on the concept that we are bioactive compound-deficient. Most people focus on protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Researchers have gone on record stating that these macronutrients will keep you alive, but you can feel even better by incorporating bioactive compounds into your diet and lifestyle. You and I know these compounds as essential oils and polyphenols. These compounds are completely outside of the nutritional label. Research is suggesting that diets rich in bioactive compounds are full of antioxidants, which you can get from essential oils. Not to mention, essential oils also enhance the flavor and therapeutic efficacy of the food. For example, if a recipe calls for cinnamon, one drop of cinnamon leaf or cinnamon bark oil will work as a replacement. Another rule of thumb is that if you can’t go fresh, choose essential oils over dry herbs.
What are your favorite go-to recipes?
I would encourage everyone to kick the soda habit and make your own:
- 1-2 drops of your favorite citrus oil
- 1 dropper full of liquid stevia, which acts as a very light emulsifier
- 16 oz of sparkling water or soda water
Grapefruit and lime essential oils have been shown to curb cravings, burn fat, and support weight loss.
Another one of my favorite recipes is our fat-burning matcha green tea latte:
- 1 tablespoon of matcha green tea powder
- 2 cups unsweetened vanilla coconut or almond milk
- 2 cups boiling water
- 4 droppers full of liquid stevia
- 2 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil
- 2 drops of peppermint essential oil
- Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to make it filling and creamy
Blend together to make two 16-ounce servings. For more recipes, check out "The Essential Oils Diet".
How do you clean an essential oil diffuser?
Soap and water—at the end of the day, that’s all you need. Make sure you don’t immerse the entire diffuser in water; just wipe it down. You can also use a dry rag and put a little bit of coconut oil on it to wash away the residue. That’s also what you do if you get essential oils in your eye—wash your eye with coconut oil or olive oil.
For someone who is new to essential oils, how would you recommend they start incorporating them into their routines?
My recommendation would center around what the person is trying to accomplish. If it’s related to sleep, try diffusing lavender at night. If it’s related to feeling lethargic, try that matcha green tea latte with the boost of peppermint. If your issue is pain, try some of the oils listed below and combine them into an oil blend:
- Sweet marjoram
You can also start by incorporating them into your bath products with unscented lotions and conditioners. Don’t get hung up on the recipe; simply use what you can and have fun with it.
And for those who are more experienced, how can they increase or diversify the essential oils they use?
Experiment with different oils and mix it up. Our bodies are on a 28-day cycle, meaning our skin regenerates every four weeks. We want to honor our cycle, so try to avoid getting into a skin care rut.
What are your non-negotiables? Those essential oils that everyone should have?
All three are cost-effective and will help you feel balanced.
What made you switch to online grocery shopping? How has Thrive Market changed the way you shop?
Who has time to drive to the store anymore? Thrive Market is the solution for busy families who can't drop everything to pick up a few of their favorite items as the grocery store. Thrive Market has helped put us in the driver's seat when it comes to shopping. Anytime, anywhere, we can order our favorite kitchen, pantry, and bath items from the comfort of our home or when we're mobile.
What is your secret kitchen weapon, and how do you use it?
I'm not sure how I'd get along in the kitchen without my Vitamix blender or my Nutribullet. I use it every day for my shakes, smoothies, matcha green tea lattes, and for a million other things. I haven't used a whisk to mix up my gluten-free pancake batter in years. Just buzz it up in a blender and voila—instant, fluffy pancake batter!