Orange essential oil is one of my favourites to turn to for any myriad of dis-eases in the body. As a staple in my oil burner, it keeps me peaceful and focused while working, warming the air with its sweetly intoxicating scent. As a subtle addition to my body and face oil, it really does bring a stimulating, rosy glow to the skin. But in my search to discover what else could I do with my orange essential oil (because notions of chocolate arose), I discovered that just because something is natural and organic doesn’t mean you can go wild in how you use it. Turns out, while there is something for every level of home DIY-er, there are a few essential truths to know on using orange oil in its versatile ways.
First, why is orange essential oil good for you?
My favourite response to this is always, “watch someone’s face when they take a whiff of it”. In most cases, unless they’re a bit of a citrus grinch, the tension between their brows melts away, their mouth breaks into a smile and their shoulders usually release from the permanently hunched up place where many of us keep our shoulders these days. But these are some of my favourite, more substantiated health-infusing traits of this sprightly oil:
- Anti-depressant: the aroma has been shown to decrease cortisol secretion and lift mental anxiety
- Mild sedative: numbs the edge of severe feelings or emotions such as pain, anger and fatigue
- Anti-inflammatory: reduced the body’s extreme inflammatory response, like easing swelling or allergy reactions
- Fighting cancerous tumors: compounds known as monoterpenes have been shown to be effective in warding off tumors
- Cholagogue: it increases digestive enzymes and assimilation of nutrients
- Antiseptic: well reported and proven effective (and popular) in decreasing thanks to green cleaning brands like Natural Orange and Triple Orange
- Aphrodesiac: ah yes, an increase in libido enhancing hormones is a nice added benefit
The essential need-to-knows on using orange oil 3 different ways
1. The Easy Way: When using it in aromatherapeutic applications
There are some simple ways to benefit from this sweetly seductive essential oil that don’t require any more action than a swish of the wrist. Through aroma you can benefit from its mood lifting properties, anxiety and allergy reducing properties through the stimulation of your olfactory senses. It can even enhance a glowing skin complexion, thanks to high quantities of vitamin C and an increase in collagen production. Try these aromatic uses:
- a few drops in an oil burner with a carrier oil, and deep inhale.
- a dabb or two at a 1:1 ration with coconut oil on your pulse points (but do check for skin sensitivity first)
- a few drops in your night time bath
- 8-10 drops diluted in distilled water and witch hazel make a wonderfully uplifting room and linen spray
- 5 drops in a bowl of boiling water make for a lovely tranquil face steam
Essential take away No. 1: Even in seemingly simple applications its important to note that essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause irritation, such as burning of the nasal passages or oesophagus in deep inhalation, if not used in conjunction with a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil. When applying it to your skin, always mix it in with skin safe oil like hemp or coconut to avoid sensitisation or irritation.
Orange essential oil does present mild photo-toxicity, so its best not applied when going into the sun and do a check for sensitive skins.
2. The mid-level effort way: homemade topical uses
For a little bit more input, you can take your essential orange oil to a glorious, Cleopatra-esque level with some homemade beauty recipes.
- add a few drops to your favourite body oil (I like hemp oil) and use as an uplifting massage oil that also does wonders for an aching body and any skin irritations
- make your own body scrub or decadent body butter infused with all of the above mentioned properties
- make your own toothpaste, as the anti-inflammatory properties are also restorative for gum infection and disease
Essential take away No. 2: With most of these recipes, you will be diluting your essential oil in other oils to ensure skin safety. But especially when using orange essential oil orally, make sure you don’t overdo the addition to your toothpaste as it can be quite potent on your gums. If you’ve also read it can be used to cure sore throats and think you can make a mouth wash from mixing it with water, hang on. Essential oils don’t dissolve in water, so you’ll end up exposing areas of gum to concentrated droplets and, if you intend gargling with it, could also end up swallowing the mouth rinse/ conceived throat elixir, leading to those same droplets in your stomach causing burning of the stomach lining or oesophagus.
3. The committed way: ingesting the essential oil for internal (and culinary?) benefit
I always lean towards culinary curiosity in my explorations and on one such curious evening, desperately craved orange infused dark chocolate. I had all the other ingredients for a quick homemade batch of superfood chocolate but no orange zest. I spied curiously at my essential oil bottle and then turned to the internet for advice. According to some much touted health practitioners “Ingesting orange oil is ONLY recommend when you’re using a very high-quality, organic, “therapeutic grade” brand. ”
First it must be mentioned that no regulatory board exists (or not one widely recognised) that standardises or monitors the use of the term “therapeutic grade” on labels.
When it comes to ingestion, it is advised to only do so after consulting with a qualified aromatherapist as each person might react differently to the essential oils.
Some people do take essential oils in capsule form. On this matter one of the world’s leading experts on essential oil use, Robert Tisserand has this to say “You can of course make you own capsules containing essential oils along with vegetable oil, and if you absolutely and totally know what you are doing, then go ahead. But if you don’t, then don’t. This has nothing to do with quality or brand of essential oil, it’s about safety, and dosage. With ingestion, various risks increase, including gastric irritation, interactions with conventional medications, and foetal damage in pregnancy. And long-term, depending on dose and frequency, there’s a risk of accumulation in the body, possibly leading to systemic toxicity. You may not notice anything, but some types of toxicity do not announce their presence in the early stages”
So, does that mean I can’t use my orange oil in my homemade chocolates? It turns out that if you know what you’re doing, and only then, can you bake with essential oils in measured, minuscule amounts while ensuring that the essential oils are mixed with other fats like butter to ensure dispersion.
This raw chocolate orange date bar recipe is filled with promise and rejuvenation.
And for those of us just craving the zesty zing of orange but not quite ready to trek to the aromatherapist for it, there’s always pure orange extract intended for baking.