These days essential oils are sold everywhere- some people buy them for health reasons, others buy them for their rich aromatic fragrances and yet others buy these oils to keep the home smelling nice. But what many people may not know is that these essential oils do not contain fatty acids but aromatic compounds that are extracted from plants.
The Secrets of Essential Oils
Today essentials oils have been extracted from a variety of tropical flowers, seeds, roots, and stems. The one key feature of all these essential oils is their powerful aromatic fragrance. In addition to enhancing pollination in plants, these essential oils have been used for centuries as flavoring agents in food, and to enhance cosmetics and improve health.
Where To Find Them
The majority of essentials are sold in small vials. As soon as the cap is opened, the volatile aromatic gasses quickly mix with the surrounding atmosphere and produces a distinct sweet smell. Depending on the type of essential oil, some induce a calming sensation and other are uplifting. You can find essential oils online, or sometimes at your local spice & tea shop.
Popular Essential Oils
Some of the most popular essential oils are:
This oil is extracted from different trees and is well known for its minty, earthly aroma. It is also well known for being used in massages and providing pain relief. Eucalyptus is also a powerful anti-microbial agent and insect repellent!
This particular oil gets lots of love for its lovely flowery aroma. It has a sweet floral smell just like lavender flowers – which is where it is extracted from. Lavender essential oil is best known for its calming and sleep inducing properties. Similar to eucalyptus, this oil also is an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It is great for healing ringworm, eczema, and other skin conditions!
Have you ever bought shampoo with tea tree oil in it?! Well, there’s a reason that shampoo and conditioners are starting to use this oil in their formulas. Tea tree essential oil is well known for clearing up dandruff and other scalp conditions. This oil has lots of other benefits such as cleansing wounds and treating fungal infections. You can also apply tea tree oil to insect bites to reduce inflammation and reduce itching.
This oil is extracted from a tree native to the Arabian Peninsula. Frankincense resin is well known for its traditional usage as incense. It has a woody, balsam, and citrus smell. And it is well used as a benefit to reduce stress, reduce inflammation, and also as an aid in digestion. Frankincense is also useful with healing wounds and fading scars more quickly.
This last oil on the list and far from being least useful. Peppermint essential oil is derived from leaves of the peppermint plant. With a wonderful minty aroma, this oil has some of the most diverse uses than any of the others. Some benefits worth mentioning are cold and flu prevention, joint and muscle relief, alleviation of headaches and relief from nausea and bloating. You can even use peppermint oil to cool you off in the summer time. Save on your electricity bill this summer!
Also Read: Making Sense Of Scents
What Are They Used For
Many of these oils have been found to contain hundreds of aromatic compounds but the composition does vary between the different essential oils. For the most part, the majority of people use essential oils for physical and emotional well-being. They can either be used solo or in combination with other oils to obtain the desired benefit.
However, as more people are showing interest in essential oils it is important to know how to use them safely and what to be aware of.
How To Use Essential Oils Safely
To use essential oils one doesn’t need any special equipment. The most important thing is to limit the amount used as they are heavily concentrated liquids. Essential oils for health applications can be used by applying them on the skin, inhaling or ingesting them.
Gently heat up a few drops of essential oils to generate fumes that can be inhaled. Although heat is not always necessary. The simplest way to inhale essential oils is to rub a drop between the palms of your hands and place them over the nose and take a deep breath. This produces a quick soothing effect.
Essential oils can be applied to the skin by first dabbing a little bit of the oil on the skin and gently massaging the area. This increases absorption of the aromatic compounds inside the body. Some people mix the essential oil with a carrier oil such as olive, argan, or coconut oil. Then massage the mixture into the skin. The use of a carrier oil increases the speed of absorption and also ensures that most of the aromatic compounds will penetrate the skin. The carrier oil will also ensure that the aromatic compounds simply will not evaporate from the skin. One other benefit is that the carrier oil will ensure that your skin remains moisturized.
For people who have fair skin and prone to allergies, always do a test first. Dilute the essential oil in olive oil or baby oil and apply a small amount to the forearm; wait for 24-48 hours and if you have no reaction, you can use the essential oil safely. For those who develop a reaction, it is important not to use any more of that particular essential oil for fear of developing a full blown allergic reaction.
One can use essential oils on the skin 2-3 times a day or every 6-8 hours. In general, more is not better as you may develop adverse effects.
Where on the body can I apply essential oils?
Essential oils can be applied on the following areas:
- Forehead and temples
- Neck area
- Upper arm & shoulder
- Chest and abdomen (both front and back)
- Arms, legs, feet and hands
Essential oils can even be applied to warm water during a bath. Add several drops to the tub of water and you can sit in the water bath for 15-20 minutes to derive the maximum benefit.
You can even apply a hot or cold compress by soaking a towel with water and then adding a drop or two of essential oil.
Some women regular apply essential oil with their regular moisturizer either in the morning or just before bedtime.
Essential oils should not be inserted into the nose, ear, eyes and especially any area where the skin is broken red or infected.
Essential Oils in small amounts have been ingested to treat a variety of health disorders. You may sprinkle a few drops of the oil on your salad, add it as a flavoring agent to almost any type of food or mix it with tea or any type of beverage. It is important not add too much essential oil as this can lead to stomach upset and nausea.
In general small amounts (1-2 drops) of essentials oils are safe for oral consumption. The aromatic compounds once in the blood stream are transported to almost every organ in the body, including the brain. In fact, because of their soothing effects, some people add a drop of essential oil to their favorite beverage just before bedtime.
Because there are many types of essential oils and manufacturers, it is important to read the labels. Always buy your essential oil from a reputable dealer because scams and counterfeit products are common. Always start with the dilute form of essential oil first to make sure you have no allergies and can tolerate it. Remember essential oils are a supplement to good health and not a substitute for your prescribed medications.