Essential Oils 101 for Moms


Essential oils are all the rage right now. You see them almost everywhere: the superstore, drugstore, natural store, homestead store, and even the online store. They line up shelves and take up stock. People sing their praises and attest to their results. But what are essential oils, really? And how are mothers like us using them? 

Essential Oils

Essential oils are volatile aromatic compounds, or in layman’s terms, small organic molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. They are found in seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. In nature, essential oils protect plants, give them their distinctive smells, and play a role in pollination. Specialized companies harvest them, and make them available for human benefit by either distilling, expressing, or extracting them.  

How Do You Use Essential Oils? 

It is very important that you use essential oils safely and knowledgeably. Reading all the labels, following usage guidelines, and paying attention to the product’s cautionary notes are vital. You can use the oils aromatically, topically, or internally. As a single oil or in a complex blend. “Neat,” or diluted. When used properly, essential oils are safe around the house, on the kids, and even with the pets. 

What Can You Use Essential Oils For?

Essential oils have a wide range of mental, emotional, and physical wellness applications. They help boost the immune system, stimulate digestion, and balance hormones. Some essential oils aid in focus, others calm a mood, or even uplift the spirit.

In my collection, I have essential oils to clean my floors, whiten my sheets, and replace my mouthwash. I use them to ease my daughter’s anxiety, bring forth playfulness, and invite peace. My collection also includes oils that support my joints and muscles, my respiratory system, and my menstrual cycle. I also have a spray bottle to repel bugs off my kids, my house, and my plants. I add them to my shampoo and unscented body lotion. I even add them to my kids’ lotion after a long, busy day. In recipes, I use them to substitute dried herbs, and to flavor muffins and pancakes. I even amplify the punch of my lemon curd with a few drops of lemon essential oil. 

Many of my friends add oils to their kids’ bath water or even drinking water. Other friends diffuse essential oils in their cars, their offices, and their homes. My daughter’s teacher runs the diffuser in the classroom throughout the day.

Some yoga studios incorporate essential oils into their practice, while others offer cold lavender towels at the end of the practice. Massage therapists and aestheticians use the oils to enhance services, and life coaches employ them to aid their clients’ center, relax, and open up.

Suffice it to say that when used safely, the possibilities of what you can use essential oils for are endless. 

What Oils For What?

With over fifty different essential oils to chose from, how does a mom know what oil to use for what condition? While the variety seems daunting, there are six “basic” oils that are considered central and necessary in every home. When I began introducing myself and my family to the oils, I adopted these six “must-have’s:” 

Peppermint helps alleviate occasional stomach upset, and promotes healthy respiratory function.

Lavender is calming and relaxing, and has positive effects on the skin.

Lemon can be a powerful cleansing agent, and provides digestive benefits.

Oregano is one of the most powerful essential oils with its immune-boosting and antioxidant properties. 

Melaleuca (Tea Tree) is best known for its purifying properties for the home, the skin, and the air. 

Frankincense is the king of oils with its soothing and beautifying properties for the skin and the spirit. 

Essential oils have been around for centuries. It is only now that modern lifestyles have taken a new interest in reincorporating them into daily functions, as health conscious moms seek to move away from chemicals and products produced synthetically.

This sheds only a small light on a complex topic and is meant as an introduction. The FDA has not evaluated the preceding statements, and the information provided here should not replace proper medical help, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Lebanese in origin, Ranya became a US citizen in 2007. Shortly after meeting Jeff through a job ad in Beirut in 2003, she moved to Portland to pursue a doctorate at PSU. From there, the two of them moved to the East Coast to begin their adventures. The last fourteen years have seen them in Portland, OR twice; in Arlington, VA twice, in Columbia, MD as well as Lebanon and Morocco. In her current life, Ranya is a teacher’s aide who loves to embark on special projects with her daughter. Their signature Mama-and-Me activity is hosting their friends for formal tea parties. She is trilingual, and is passing on the torch of language to her children who are fluent in English and Arabic. Ranya is passionate about hot yoga, and enjoys long walks. She absolutely hates driving, and reserves it for cases of dire need. She believes in the wonders of snuggles, and advocates their daily use. She lives a walking distance from her all-time favorite restaurant, Saburo, with Jeff, Jannah-Rae and Yousef. They share their one-bathroom house with her parents and Leo, the Arabic-speaking cat. Ranya writes thoughts, tots and essential oils on her blog Ranya, the Memory Keeper.


  1. I really enjoyed this introduction to the use essential oils in the home. I love using natural products to support my family’s health and reduce our toxic load. Essential oils are truly amazibg if you look past the junk in the stores and find high-quality oils.

    • Thank you Christine. Yes, looking past the junk in stores is essential, not everything is created equal, and I would not trust my family’s health to random brands out there.

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