The use of essential oils has been around for centuries, and for good reason. From relieving headaches to improving sleep quality, essential oils have a wide range of medicinal and therapeutic properties. But what exactly are essential oils, and how can they be used safely? In this article, we'll explore the many benefits of essential oils, as well as how to use them safely and effectively. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that contain the natural aroma and flavor of the plant.
They are extracted through a process of steam distillation or cold pressing, and are then combined with a carrier oil to create a ready-to-use product. There are over 90 commonly used essential oils, each associated with certain health claims.The most common way to use essential oils is to inhale them, both for their incredible aroma and for their therapeutic properties. But they can also be used in diffusers and humidifiers, as well as diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin. It is important to note that most essential oils cannot be applied directly to the skin without diluting them - usually the concentration is a few drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.
The most common carrier oils are sweet almond oil or olive oil.
The Benefits of Essential OilsEssential oils have a wide range of medicinal and therapeutic properties. Popular oils include peppermint, lavender and sandalwood. In the 1990s, two small studies found that applying a mixture of peppermint oil and ethanol to the forehead and temples of participants relieved headache (16, 17). Recent studies have also observed a reduction in headache after applying peppermint oil and lavender to the skin (18, 19).
Lavender oil has also been found to improve the quality of sleep of women after childbirth, as well as patients with heart disease (21, 22). A review examined 15 studies on essential oils and sleep. Most studies showed that smelling oils, mostly lavender oil, had positive effects on sleep habits (2).Test tube studies have extensively investigated essential oils, such as peppermint oil and tea tree oil, for their antimicrobial effects, and some positive results were observed (31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38). Oils that have been most commonly associated with adverse reactions are lavender, peppermint, tea tree and ylang-ylang.
AromatherapyAromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefits.
When inhaled, the aromatic molecules of essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and especially affect the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. Manufacturers use essential oils to create a range of products. The cosmetics and makeup industry uses essential oils to create perfumes, add fragrance to body creams and soaps, and even as sources of natural antioxidants in some beauty products.Synergy oils are blends of undiluted essential oils that work together more effectively to achieve a mood, such as relaxation or sensuality. But using rosemary oil also has some additional benefits, such as improving brain function, promoting hair growth, reducing pain and stress, improving mood, and reducing joint inflammation.
Safety ConsiderationsEssential oils can have a positive impact on your health and well-being as long as you use them safely.
The most common carrier oils are sweet almond oil or olive oil. Very few studies have examined the safety of these oils for pregnant or breastfeeding women, who are generally advised to avoid them (48, 49, 50, 51). The Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing has created a fully online 15-hour course on the clinical use of essential oils available on the Coursera platform. Essential oils should never be burned directly, as the chemical structure changes dramatically with incineration (Buckle 200).
For example, peppermint and eucalyptus oils can change the way the body absorbs the anticancer drug 5-fluorouracil from the skin. Download a copy of this PDF of Bon Vital's essential oil benefit chart for reference when using essential oils.