Essential oils are an essential part of aromatherapy and other alternative medicines. They can also be used around your home. However, many people may feel hesitant about essential oils, as they don’t fully understand these substances. So, here we’ve compiled a basic guide to essential oils.
The Essential Oil Basics
Essential oils are derived from the flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, bark, or stems of plants. They are highly potent and concentrated chemical compounds that provide many benefits. Each plant has unique compounds that provide essential oils with its characteristic aroma.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years around the world for aromatherapy, beauty treatments, health care, and personal care. They can be effectively used for a variety of everyday uses such as cleaning, boosting mental and emotional health, or promoting better sleep.
How is the Oil Extracted?
There are two common methods of extracting essential oils from plants; cold pressing or steam distillation. The parts of the plants are either steamed or pressed to capture the fragrance compounds. It can take several pounds of plant material to create just one bottle of essential oil.
How Essential Oils Work
Essential oils can be inhaled or applied topically. When applied to the skin, plant chemicals are absorbed. However, to avoid skin sensitivity, most oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil, such as Fractionated Coconut Oil.
Inhaling essential oils can stimulate parts of the brain that play a role in behaviours, emotions, and long-term memory.
The Potential Health Benefits
There are over 90 common essential oils that offer a variety of potential health benefits. These include:
- Alleviating Stress and Anxiety: Studies have shown that essential oils such as Lavender are effective at alleviating stress and anxiety, promoting restful sleep. You can add a few drops to a diffuser, put oil in your bath, or massage it into the skin.
- Relieve Headaches: Dabbing a little essential oil on the temples and forehead can reduce the pain of headaches or migraines. Peppermint and chamomile essential oils have been used for this purpose as a traditional remedy.
- Addressing Sleep Issues: Lavender essential oil has been shown to improve sleep quality and can have a positive effect on your sleep habits.
- Reducing Inflammation: There is research to suggest that some essential oils can help to fight inflammation. For example, Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme oils can help reduce inflammation.
- Aiding Recovery: Essential oils can also aid recovery. Many oils naturally have antibiotic or antimicrobial properties, but others can relieve the pain of tired muscles after a long day or strenuous workout.
Possible Side Effects
Plans contain bioactive compounds that are generally safe, but there is still the possibility of side effects or reactions. This can include rashes, headaches, or other reactions. The most common side effect is a skin rash where the oil has had contact. However, you can often alleviate this potential problem by diluting the oil with a carrier oil.
How to Choose Essential Oils
Unfortunately, not all essential oils on the market are of the highest quality. Many companies make outlandish claims about their products, but they are actually cheap derivatives that offer little to no benefits.
So, you must choose a good quality essential oil for maximum efficacy. You should look for an oil that only contains plant compounds with no synthetic oils or additives. Pure oils typically list the botanical name of the plant. Good quality essential oils have been changed the least during the extraction process. Mechanical cold pressing or steam distillation offers a chemical-free essential oil with no additives.
Finally, be sure to look for a brand with a solid reputation for high-quality products.