Ever heard that essential oils are a panacea? Maybe you've seen essential oil diffusers, necklaces and bracelets being sold on the internet. If you're curious about essential oils and their benefits, but have no idea where to start, continue reading to learn more about what they are and their potential health benefits.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are aromatic plant oils derived from the volatile compounds that give plants and flowers their appealing scents. Each is produced from the plant extracts of individual plant species that originate from different faunas and climates around the world. Aromatherapy oils come from a variety of sources, including citrus peels, spices, leaves, roots, bark and flowers of plants. The collection of essential oils results in a diverse array of aromatic compounds.
Benefits of Essential Oils
Essential oils possess some amazing health benefits, making them a popular choice for those seeking natural remedies for a variety of health conditions. Essential oils have been shown to help improve overall wellness by supporting the body's healthy immune function, improving digestive function and promoting relaxation when inhaled directly or applied topically. The following are some of the benefits of essential oils:
- Assist in wound healing
- Strengthen the immune system
- Clear congestion
- Act as an insect repellant
- Calm children and anxious adults
- Deepen meditation
- Enhance yoga practice
Essential oil products can be applied topically as massage oils or inhaled directly from a bottle or through an essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy. A few drops of oil in a handkerchief can help decongest the nose and sinuses, while essential oils mixed with unscented body lotions can help moisturise skin that has been dried out by medications or environmental factors like cold weather.
External Application of Essential Oils
External application is the easiest way to use an essential oil. When applied to the skin they are absorbed by the body within 30 seconds and reach every cell within 21 minutes.
Common places to apply the oil include the wrists, temples, back, chest, under the feet, back of the neck, around the ears and around the navel.
When applying the essential oil topically, you may choose to use a body oil, hot or cold compress, cosmetic lotion, bath or hair rinse with a little of it added to it.
Please beware of sensitive areas of the body when applying the essential oil topically to avoid an allergic reaction. Research individual oils and how they should be applied. Especially watch out for:
- Photosensitive essential oils that need to be applied under clothing
- Essential oils that are hot and require some dilution
- Citrus oils that can turn your skin into a brown patch for up to six weeks after reacting with sunlight
Inhalation of Essential Oils
If you are looking for a faster, more immediate effect, you might like to consider inhalation instead of topical application. The scent of the oils reaches the olfactory nerves and brain's limbic system in a matter of seconds, which explains aromatherapy's instant effect on emotions.
Essential oils may be inhaled from simply breathing the scent in from a bottle, mixing it in a bucket of hot water and inhaling the steam, or by simply diffusing your preferred oils throughout the room via a cold air diffuser.
Cold diffusers are an ideal alternative to the traditional oil burner (whether they are electric or not), as they do not destroy the quality of the oil being heated. They carry other benefits too which include:
- Air purification, as they eliminate metallic particles and toxins from the atmosphere.
- They increase the amount of oxygen in the environment.
- They inhibit bacterial growth by increasing ozone and negative ions throughout the house.
- They give the air a fresh, clean aroma.
- They eliminate odours from animals, mould and cigarettes.
Essential Oils in the Bath
With the exception of the less 'hot' essential oils, a hot bath is the ideal place to add essential oil products. To make an essential oil bath mix, combine a base oil, bath gel base or V-6 mixing oil with your preferred essential oil variant, and then pour the mixture into your bath water before soaking. This prevents sensitive skin from being aggravated.
Source: Infographic Plaza
Top 10 Essential Oils to Try and Their Benefits
Several essential oils have been extensively researched by the scientific community for their health benefits. The top 10 are listed below, along with the various ways you can use them to improve your overall health and wellness.
- Lavender essential oil can help calm nerves and promote feelings of wellbeing when inhaled directly from the bottle. A few drops of lavender oil can help reduce inflammation and joint pain, which can lessen the severity of various conditions like arthritis. Regular use of lavender oil helps fight acne by killing the bacteria responsible for breaking down the walls of sebum glands on pores where blemishes can form. You can use it in aromatherapy or add it to lotions or creams for daily use.
- Tea tree essential oil is another type of essential oil that can have amazing health benefits due to its powerful antibacterial properties. Tea tree oils kill bacteria responsible for athlete's foot and fungal infections on the nails.
- Peppermint essential oil helps reduce nausea when taken internally. Add a few drops of peppermint oil to a glass of clean, drinking water. You can also inhale it through an essential oil diffuser. It has also been shown to be effective in soothing abdominal pain and menstrual cramps when applied topically.
- Clove essential oil is often used in dental care products because of its antimicrobial properties, which help kill bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gingivitis.
- Frankincense essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties that make it an effective treatment for wounds. Applying frankincense oil on your face can also help with acne outbreaks.
- Lemon essential oil is a very common essential oil due to its versatile uses. It can be applied topically to the skin, aromatically with a diffuser or orally by adding a few drops of lemon oil to a glass of water and drinking the mixture on a daily basis.
- Eucalyptus essential oil has a cooling sensation and analgesic properties that aid in the relief of muscle pain. It's also quite often used in cleaning products due to its antimicrobial activity, which kills bacteria that cause illnesses like the flu or the common cold.
- Clary sage essential oil is known for its calming effects. Clinical studies have shown clary sage oil has neuroprotective properties that can help with neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, since it helps regulate neurotransmitters essential to memory function. Clary sage essential oil also is used topically on the skin to heal irritations and inflammations.
- Rosemary essential oil is well known to improve mental clarity and memory. It is also effective when used topically for muscle aches and pains, especially when applied with coconut oil as the carrier oil.
- Oregano essential oil has been traditionally known to help with digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, respiratory problems, skin infections and menstrual cramps. It also stimulates blood circulation. Furthermore, it has been shown to aid in the killing of cancer cells.
Speak with a naturopath, aromatherapist, or another natural healthcare professional who specialises in essential oils to reap their full range of benefits now and in the future. Whatever your health concern is, you can certainly rely on the effectiveness of these natural gifts from nature.Originally published on Jun 16, 2010