What is an Essential Oil?

If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. These naturally occurring volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care practices. 

What exactly is a volatile aromatic compound? In short, these compounds are small organic molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. They are called volatile because they change state quickly. When you first open a bottle of essential oil, you instantly notice that the aroma is potent and you can smell it typically even from some distance. The physical and chemical properties of the volatile aromatic compounds that compose essential oils allow them to quickly move through the air and directly interact with the olfactory sensors in the nose. Such unique properties make essential oils ideal for applications inclusion in aromatherapy – using these compounds from plants to help maintain a healthy mind and body – as well as other applications. The type of volatile aromatic compounds present in an essential oil determines both the oil’s aroma and the benefits it offers. 

Over 3,000 varieties of volatile aromatic compounds have been identified to date. The nature of an essential oil varies from plant to plant, within botanical families, and from species to species. The delicate ratio of aromatic constituents found in any given essential oil are what make it unique and give it specific benefits. 

Even with pure essential oils the composition of the oil can vary depending on the time of day, season, geographic location, method and duration of distillation, year grown, and the weather, making every step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the essential oil product. 

Essential oils can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used as single essential oils or in complex essential oil blends depending on user experience and desired benefit. Want to learn how to use essential oils? Visit doTERRA's essential oils usage page to learn how to safely use doTERRA essential oils.

-Source: doTERRA website


How do you use them?

There are three basic ways to use oils:

1. Smell them
2. Apply them to skin
3. Eat them

Using the fragrance of essential oils is how most people are introduced to them.

So when it comes to smelling them, you have a couple of options: you can put a few drops in your hand and smell them directly; or you can put them in a special device called a diffuser that sprays a fine mist into the air. Diffusing is a great way to keep any room smelling fresh and vibrant all day long.

The other two methods, applying them to skin or eating them, need to be done with care and as directed. Some oils are very powerful and may cause skin reactions. When using a new oil, it’s best to rub it on only a small area first to see how you react. This article by doTERRA provides information on how to use them safely.


How do you use them to support recovery?

The uses for essential oils are endless, but I started using them primarily to help with addiction recovery.

I first just used to the oils to bring myself into my body when I needed grounding (which was often and all day) and they are extremely effective in this way. I carried Balance, Lavender, Peppermint, Bergamot and Serenity around in my purse and kept them at my office so I always had them on hand. It was comforting to know I had them on hand at all times and only needed to drop a few drops in my hands, rub together, and inhale to create an instant mood shift. I used them on the train to and from work, in meetings, in my office, or in the bathroom when at dinner or at friend’s houses. 

I also used them to create new ritual, which is so needed in early recovery. Coming home was a difficult time for me, as that is usually when I would drink or want to drink, and so instead I would diffuse some oil, turn on music, light candles, and create an environment I wanted to be in. Then, when I would go out into the world I could use these same scents and it would remind me that I can take care of myself, that I can regulate my own nervous system, and breathe. Over time I created new associations in my brain with what it meant to end the work day, come home, rest at night, etc.

I use them when I practice yoga and meditate for the same reasons - to create a more deepened sense of ritual and grounding. One of my absolute favorite things to do is plug in the diffuser right next to my mat, turn down the lights, and do a home practice with Yogaglo or on my own.

Over time, I have learned how to regulate my mood and nervous system using the oils. It’s empowering and really joyous to have something that works so well and feels good in every way. It’s also created a home environment that’s more safe for me and my daughter because I’ve replaced so many toxic products with natural ones. That feels amazing.


Are the oils expensive?

It's all relative.

The prices vary, but a standard 15ML bottle contains 250 drops, and you only need one drop to reach every cell in your body. The average cost is between $20-$40 (wholesale), which equates to between 6-12 cents a drop.

Some oils are more expensive because they are rare. Rose, for example, is only available seasonally and is much more expensive because it takes 60,000 roses or 2,160,000 rose petals to make just 1 ounce of rose essential oil! Most of the products we use in our home or on our body don’t deliver a fraction of the benefit for the cost that essential oils do.

One of the biggest benefits of signing up with doTERRA is getting wholesale prices which average $25 off retail. For example, a 15ML bottle of Lavender is $28 retail and $21 wholesale.


Why wouldn't I just buy them at Whole Foods or on Amazon?

The purity of an essential oil is its most important characteristic, and most oils sold in retail stores aren't therapeutic grade, which means they have fillers and their potency deteriorates very quickly. When you use these oils, they're entering the cells in your body just like food. An essential oil that isn’t pure means you run the risk of putting germs, heavy metals, or adulterants onto or into your body, which can provoke irritation, adverse effects, or even sickness. 

When you buy them on Amazon, you’re getting them from another seller so the quality/source is unsure. Most importantly, you don’t accumulate points toward future purchases and products so you’re missing out on the primary benefit of having a wholesale account (it's like flying without using frequent flier miles!). Additionally, when you sign-up through a representative, you have their support and resources to guide you.

There are a few brands that offer therapeutic grade quality. doTERRA, the brand I use, created its own testing process, calling it CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®. The CPTG process certifies that there are no added fillers, synthetic ingredients, or harmful contaminants in their essential oils that would reduce their efficacy. doTERRA even goes a step further, putting all their products and the packaging through a battery of tests to ensure a long and effective shelf-life. This protocol ensures potency, purity, and consistency batch to batch.


Why doTERRA versus another brand?

I followed the lead of people I trusted. Namely, Elena Brower, one of my friends and primary teachers. Since then I've learned a lot more about oils, the company, and honestly just fell in love with the products. 

Elena’s blog post about why she chose DoTERRA as her business was a huge decision point for me, even though when I started using them I had no intention of building any kind of business around it. I love that the company is family-focused and pro-woman, and that they give so much back.


Yes! I've basically replaced most of my household products with doTERRA products because they're non-toxic, effective and smell delicious. Some of my favorite products are:

I look at it as shifting your household budget to dōTERRA so you can "pay yourself" to buy the products you'll use and need. Similar to a frequent flyer program, each time you purchase, you receive points back, and as they accrue, you can buy a lot for free. 

Does doTERRA
make other products besides oils?


Keep scrolling and I'll tell you about my favorite oils, how I use them, and how to start a wholesale account. If you're ready to start an account now, go here.

How do I get started?