Essential oils are known for their therapeutic and medicinal uses for almost 6000 years. Being an important component of recent popular practice, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) these essential oils are ruling the market for a long time.
What are Essential Oils?
As indicated by the name, essential oils are aromatic liquids obtained from specific plants. These natural oils capture the plant’s essence and its flavour and each essential oil is characterized by its distinct smell due to its unique aromatic content.
How essential oils are made?
Essential oil lovers!
In case you are wondering where your favourite essential oil comes here are the ways that can be used to prepare essential oils.
The process through which these oils go from botanical to bottle is responsible for their overall functional performance. Various plant parts (either stem, eaves, herbs, rinds or barks) are used and are concentrated into essential oils by using several methods.
Either through distillation and extraction, these plant parts are converted into essential oils. Steam distillation and cold pressing are the popular methods that are used to convert these plant parts into essential oils.
Uses of Essential Oils
Essential oils are used for aromatherapy for years that use these essential oils to support general wellbeing and overall health. However, the health benefits of essential oils are dependent upon how they are used. For maximum benefits and depending upon the purpose, these essential oils can be used in the following ways.
Essential oils are placed in a diffuser either mix with or without water. Sometimes, diffusers heat the oils for evaporation. Get the essential oil of your own choice and place it in a diffuser and enjoy the relaxing environment. Another way to use essential oil is by dry evaporation. Place a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and allow it to evaporate. Place the cotton ball in your vicinity or directly sniff it. Further, adding a few drops of essential oils and using them for steam purpose is another way to use these oils.
2- Topical application
Known for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, essential oils can also be applied topically. However, it is not advisable to apply essential oil directly to your skin. Dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil to minimize its side effects and then it is safe for topical application.
Health Benefits of Essential Oils
Despite these oils being used for centuries, these have become an emerging popular trend. Due to many important properties, these essential oils are the must haves. If you have recently heard about this essential oil trend, here is all you need to know about the health benefits of essential oils.
1- Stress reduction
Essential oils are widely used for aromatherapy that is used to manage and relieve stress and anxiety. Though the effects of aromatherapy vary from person to person, some of the benefits of aromatherapy remain the same. Aromatherapy reduces the level of cortisol or stress hormone in the body as well it also limits the perception of stress. Moreover, essential oils can also help to increase contentment relieving stress.
2- Better sleep
Essential oils are also used to improve sleep quality and are a safe and effective treatment. The science behind the essential oils working to improve the quality of sleep is that the fragrances of essential oils can affect your olfactory receptors. When these receptors are stimulated our brain receives a calming signal preparing it for a restful sleep. Thus, by calming your nervous system and promoting relaxation, essential oils improve the quality of sleep.
3- Sinus congestion
Congested sinuses can be very problematic as blocked airways and mucus accumulation can make anyone feel uncomfortable. Essential oils are one of the effective treatments for congestion. Known for their antibacterial properties, these essential oils deter the growth of bacteria that is a trigger of nasal congestion. Moreover, essential oils contain compounds that act on mucus receptors opening the airways, relieving the sinus problem. Due to antibacterial properties, essential oils also help in naturally curing sore throat.
4- Essential oils for skin
Essential oils are known for their multiple benefits and one of them is the use of these oils to improve your skin health. There are thousands of skin care products and the options you have are surely endless. Here is how essential oils can work well for your skin.
- Essential oils can help with dry skin and can help to regulate the moisture level in your skin improving its appearance and texture in general.
- Just like dry skin, oily skin is another common skin health problem either due to the overly active oil-secreting glands or hormonal imbalances. The essential oils can help to regulate the production of sebum protecting your skin.
- Some essential oils contain the components that can act well for acne-prone skin reducing the chances of acne breakout. Owing to their antibacterial properties, these oils deter the growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin alongside countering inflammation.
- Essential oils to alleviate skin rash by combating itchiness and dryness.
- If you are looking for a solution against acne scars and spots on your skin, essential oils might help you. Moreover, these oils can also help to make your skin even tone and help you to get rid of hyperpigmentation.
- Skin ageing is another common problem that can be cured with essential oils. Essential oils are known for their role in promoting skin cells growth that hinders the natural process of skin ageing.
5- Essential oils for hair
The use of oils for hair growth is a centuries-old practice known to us and essential oils are also on this list. Here is why essential oils are good for your hair;
- Known for their antimicrobial properties, essential oils can improve scalp health by keeping infections at bay.
- Moreover, these oils can also act as the stimulant for hair growth.
- Improving the circulation of blood in the scalp, essential oils can significantly improve hair health increasing hair growth and hair thickness.
- Further, some of these essential oils regulate the production of natural oils in the scalp thus, improving hair texture and reducing hair loss.
6- Essential oils for hormonal balance
Essential oils are everywhere and nearly for everything. Talking about the role of essential oils, they can be effectively used against hormonal imbalances. Many natural oils have their established roles for hormonal regulation affecting the levels of different body hormones.
7- Essential oils for allergies
Many essential oils possess anti-allergic properties and can help to relieve allergy symptoms.
Are essential oils safe for use?
Though there are many benefits of essentials, there is a downside to these essential oils. Some of the side effects of these essential oils include
- Essential oils are highly concentrated and may contain certain irritants. If your skin is sensitive make sure you don’t apply any essential oil directly on your skin and always dilute it with carrier oil.
- Inappropriate usage of essential oils can trigger irritation and induce allergic reactions.
- Many essential oils can induce asthma attacks negatively affecting your respiratory health.
- Further, ingesting a therapeutic grade essential oil can give rise to toxicity.
- Other side effects of essential oils include nausea and headaches.
Factors affecting the safety of essential oils
While questioning the safety of essential oils, here are the things to consider;
- Essential oils are highly concentrated and using too much of these can affect your health in many ways.
- Additives in these essential oils can also question their safety. Thus, before choosing an oil make sure you are looking for the one that contains information about the purity of the oil.
- Always consider the application method as it directly affects the safety of essential oil. Using a therapeutic essential oil as edible can be severely toxic so make sure you don’t miss the usage instruction.
- Must consider the use of your other medications and treatments before you consume them along with the essential oils to prevent any side effects.
Dos and Don’ts of Essential
Despite the countless health benefits of essential oils, the safety of these natural oils has always been questioned. These oils can be used in hundreds of different ways but remember not all of these ways are correct. Here are important dos and don’ts of using essential oils to ensure that you are using them right.
Dos of Essential Oils
- Depending upon the concentration and the presence of certain ingredients in these essential oils, you can be allergic to these. Make sure you do a patch test before the topical application of these oils on your skin.
- Consider the bottle contents before buying an essential oil. Even if you know which essential oil you want, remember there are different variants of it available in the market. Getting good grade essential oil will be of no use if you are looking for a therapeutic grade variant.
- Keep a check on the expiry of these oils because, after a certain time, these oils can get spoiled. Using older oils can be skin-damaging due to change in their composition as a result of oxygen exposure. Toss out the older oils you see any change in the smell, feel and appearance.
- Consider your age while using essential oils as young and older age people are sensitive to essential oils. Similarly, the use of certain oils should be completely avoided irrespective of age to avoid any possible side effects.
- Keep your essential oils in cool and dry places to avoid sunlight exposure. Sunlight exposure can change the composition of these oils affecting their therapeutic function.
Don’ts of Essential Oils
- Always take precautions when using essential oils internally. Only food-grade essential oils are recommended for cooking and imparting flavours.
- Avoid using essential oils on the damaged skin to avoid skin reactions.
- Don’t overuse essential oils because no matter how many benefits you hear of them. The efficacy of essential oils is limited to a certain amount.
- Some essential oils can cause photosensitivity increasing your chances of sunburn so avoid using those when you are directly exposed to the sunlight. Moreover, the application of essential oils should also be avoided in front of flames as these liquids are flammable.
- Avoid usage of essential oils during pregnancy especially in the first trimester because usage of certain essential oils is associated with early contractions. Thus, always consult your physician before using it for a specific purpose.
- Never apply a concentrated essential oil on your skin and hair and ensure that you are using a diluted oil for the purpose.
- Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be quite irritating. Especially your mucous membranes are highly susceptible to the damage caused by these oils. Avoid the exposure of these oils with the mucosal membranes and immediately wash your hands after using.
Some Popular Essential Oils
The immensely popular essential oils are available in at least 90 different types, each of them having its characteristic odour and properties responsible for their benefits. Here are some popular essential oils that are widely used, including;
- Lavender Oil
- Tea tree Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Chamomile Oil
- Jasmine Oil
1- Lavender Oil
Lavender oil obtained from lavender plants, Lavendula angustifolia is one of the popular essential oils used for many purposes. Here are the best uses of essential oils you need to know;
- Lavender oil is effective for stress management and can work well as a mood booster. For this reason, lavender oil is commonly used in aromatherapy.
- Several skin issues can be treated using lavender oil including skin flare-ups, acne breakouts, face wrinkles, skin inflammation etc.
- Lavender oil is also an effective insect repellent as well as can be used to treat insect bites.
- Lavender oil is effective for boosting hair growth, preventing head lice and deters scalp infections thus being effective for your hair health.
- Due to its antimicrobial properties, lavender oil is used to treat fungal infections.
- Lavender oil has wound healing properties and can affect the rate of skin regeneration.
Despite all these benefits of lavender oil, there is a downside of using lavender oil and the prolonged usage of lavender oil can affect the health in many ways either by slowing down your nervous system to resulting in side effects upon ingesting. After blending lavender oil with a carrier oil, it is recommended to be used for inhalation and massage on the skin. Further, the use of these oils for aromatherapy is also quite popular.
2- Tea tree oil
Derived from the tea tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia), tea tree oil is quite popular. Tea tree oil has exceptional antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and used to treat bacterial and fungal infections. Further, the other tea tree oil uses include treating skin conditions including acne and inflamed skin.
Besides this, there is a recognized role of this oil in improving oral health by treating conditions like chronic gingivitis, a gum disease. Other benefits of tea tree oil include their use to deter the growth of insects because of its ability to block insect neurotransmitters. Based on your treatment requirements, the severity of the problem and the oil concentration you can use it at the right dosage for the right thing.
3- Eucalyptus Oil
Another popular essential oil is eucalyptus, known for its multiple benefits this Australian native plant has a woody scent. This natural oil offers a variety of health benefits. Some of the common uses of eucalyptus oil include;
- The oil is used to treat upper respiratory tract infections.
- For muscles aches and strain, eucalyptus oil is quite effective.
- Eucalyptus oil can also act against several oral health issues including bad breath, cavities, gingivitis etc.
- In combination with other oils, essential oil can be used for wound healing and cleaning of wounds due to its antimicrobial properties.
- Having anti-inflammatory properties enables the use of eucalyptus oil as a pain reliever.
- Eucalyptus oil is a proven disinfectant for your homes and can replace the chemical cleaning agents at your home.
Just like other essential oils, the dosage of essential oil depends upon the purpose, age of the patient and present health condition. It is advisable to use eucalyptus oil as recommended by your physician.
4- Peppermint oil
Coming from the family of mint, this aromatic herb is native to Europe and North America. This essential is obtained from a peppermint plant that is a hybrid obtained from the breeding of watermint and spearmint. Here are some reasons telling why this essential oil is popular.
- Peppermint essential oil is used for several digestive health-related problems including irritable bowel syndrome relieving symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas and nausea.
- Peppermint oil can also help to get rid of chronic itching.
- Being an effective decongestant, peppermint oil can treat problems like blocked sinuses, common cold, infections.
- Peppermint oil also has its established role as a stress reliever and an enhancer of brain function.
- Moreover, peppermint oil possesses pain-relieving properties and can also reduce muscle spasms.
This popular essential can be used in a diffuser for aromatherapy topically applied. Other uses of peppermint oil include its use as dietary supplements and flavour enhancer for foods.
5- Chamomile oil
The chamomile plant is another effective essential oil that is one of the ancient herbs. With a slight difference in their chemical composition, chamomile oil is available as two variants. Roman chamomile or Chamaemelum nobile and German chamomile or Chamomilla recutita are widely used and offer numerous health benefits. Here are some of the benefits of chamomile oil, including;
- It is known to improve digestion and can relieve problems like indigestion, nausea, gas and nausea etc.
- Chamomile oil has its established role in improving skin health fighting ageing and acne breakouts. Other than that, chamomile oil can also effectively treat acne scars and skin spots.
- Moreover, chamomile oil is known for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and helps in preventing and treating infections.
- Chamomile oil comes from a flowering plant and has a very pleasant odour. It is quite effective against anger and depression promoting its use as a mood booster.
- As an effective pain reliever, chamomile oil is effectively used to treat muscle and joints pain. Further, it is also effective against headaches, tooth pain, sinus pain etc.
6- Jasmine Oil
Last but not the least, jasmine oil is obtained from the jasmine plant (Jasmine officinale), originally found in Iran. Jasmine oil is known for its benefits in improving skin and hair health. Here are some of the benefits of jasmine oil.
- Jasmine oil is effective as an aphrodisiac substance and is a pleasant stimulant.
- The use of jasmine oil for skin needs no justification. From deterring skin infections to acting as an anti-ageing substance, jasmine oil can heal scars, regulate skin oil production and can even tone the skin.
- Using jasmine oil can also improve the mood promoting the feelings of activeness and wellbeing alongside boosting energy levels.
- Jasmine oil can help with premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms and provide natural relief.
- The use of jasmine oil for hair offers several benefits due to its ability to penetrate hair shafts, protecting the scalp against dryness and improving natural elasticity.
Essential oils are considered essentially important due to multiple health benefits for your health. From your skin health to the digestive problem there is an essential oil for everything. Alongside all these health benefits of essential oils, there is a downside that warns you about their side effects due to inappropriate usage. So, the key to getting maximum benefits from these essential oils is to use them appropriately and preferably with a physician’s recommendation.