Essential oils - You've seen them around for some time now in your local pharmacy, at the health store, and people selling them as the holy grail on social media channels.
What are they, what is the hype behind them, and are you missing out on something potentially beneficial for your health?
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are not just a new craze; they have been used for centuries for their beneficial properties.
From aiding digestion, opening the airways, and treating insect bites, they offer many benefits.
Essential oils are extracted from various parts of a plant, including the flowers, bark, leaves, or fruit. It then gets distilled or cold-pressed to capture the most subtle and fragile byproducts of a plant without altering their quality.
It is used most often in aromatherapy and sometimes applied topically as a form of alternative medicine to support health and well-being.
Aromatherapy can be done either through inhalation, most effective for treating respiratory issues, or by diffusion for mood and smell benefits.
Inhaling the aromas from essential oils affects the limbic system, which affects emotions, behaviors, sense of smell, and long-term memory. It also controls several unconscious physiological functions, such as heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
Essential oils applied topically penetrate the skin, where plant chemicals are absorbed, offering its medicinal effects.
With the rise of antibiotic resistance, there is an increased awareness of organic, natural products. More people are turning to alternative medicine to treat ailments naturally, and it's no surprise that the global aromatherapy market is projected to grow by 8 percent between 2017 and 2024.
Millions of people using essential oils must be onto something. If you are looking to use more natural products and turn to natural remedies, why not give essential oils a try?!
Below are some of our favorites and their benefits.
Essential Oils & Their Benefits
Not only is mint yummy, but it is healthy too!
Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, and with its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal, antispasmodic, and carminative properties, it offers many benefits, including:
- Soothes tired muscles and calms spasms.
- Soothing headaches when applied to the temples.
- Relieve aching muscles, joint pain, and itching.
- Promotes healthy bowel function.
- Supports gastrointestinal system comfort.
- Adds fresh, minty taste to foods.
- Help to treat coughs and colds.
- Offer relief for nasal congestion, sinusitis, and asthma.
- Reducing pain such as headache and sinus pressure.
- Improve mental function and clarity and reduce stress.
For ages, lavender has been used in aromatherapy to treat stress and promote relaxation.
Those old wives' tales recommending lavender oil drops on your pillow to get a good night's sleep are not that far-fetched after all...
Not only will lavender oil take you to la-la land, but it contains many beneficial properties, including: anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, and hypotensive properties.
Get lavender oil to help you with the following:
- A good night's sleep
- Fungal infections
- Menstrual cramps
- Repelling mosquitos
- Calm and soothe bitten, irritated skin.
Lavender oil can be applied topically when diluted or added to a diffuser for aromatherapy. Never take it internally.
Eucalyptus oil may be the Chuck Norris of essential oils. No, seriously, it can fix almost everything!
Eucalyptus Globulus essential oil contains eucalyptol, which creates a refreshing breathing experience when inhaled and provides an invigorating sensation on the skin when applied topically. It has antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties and offers many of the same benefits as peppermint essential oil.
Eucalyptus oil has many benefits, including:
- Relieves coughs, sinus congestion, colds, and allergies.
- Eases sore muscles and joint pain.
- Alleviates headaches.
- Reduces stress and calms the body and mind.
- Soothes insect bites, wounds, and sunburn.
- It keeps the bugs away when applied as a repellent.
- Boosting mental clarity.
- Combat bad breath when gargled with water (don't swallow.)
Use topically with a carrier oil or add a few drops to a diffuser. Alternatively, create a steam inhalation by placing one to two drops in a small bowl of steaming hot water and draping a towel over your head. Be careful of the hot steam!
TEA TREE OIL
Tea tree oil has long been an antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory essential oil. It's a goodie to have in your home to treat ailments naturally!
Tea-Tree oil can be used to:
- Spot-treat acne.
- Treat athlete's foot and nail fungus.
- Treat lice eggs when used with lavender oil.
- Soothe insect bites.
- Deter insects like mosquitos and ticks.
- To remove ticks from your animals.
- Treat dandruff and relieve itchiness when added with your cleansing shampoo.
- Make your own mouthwash by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to water to improve bad breath and inflammatory gum conditions.
Don't use tea tree oil if you have eczema. It can also be very irritating to the skin, so always use diluted.
Caution: Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed and can cause serious side effects like confusion, a lack of muscle control, and decreasing levels of consciousness.
mental focus oil
Get more focused with this balancing blend of oils, including lemon oil, peppermint oil, wintergreen oil, basil oil, rosemary oil, and grapefruit oil.
Lemon oil: This popular oil has a refreshing, energizing, and uplifting scent. Lemon oil offers stimulating, calming, astringent, detoxifying, antiseptic, disinfectant, and anti-fungal properties.
Rosemary oil: Research has shown that inhaling rosemary oil helps prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a brain chemical important for thinking, concentration, and memory.
Another study reported that nursing students had increased concentration when breathing rosemary oil while taking a test as opposed to breathing lavender oil or no essential oil.
Sweet Basil Essential Oil: This oil is known for stimulating, clarifying, calming, fortifying, energizing, and uplifting the mind. This essential oil has a refreshing effect that provides relief from nervous tension, mental fatigue, melancholy, migraines, and depression.
Wintergreen Oil: This oil also helps treat fatigue along with lung, sinus, and respiratory illnesses. Wintergreen is a natural antioxidant, energizing and immune-enhancing since it lowers inflammation and reduces pain.
Add a few drops to a diffuser when you need to get energy and go into a deep focus while at the same time experiencing other benefits, such as improved breathing.
Lemon essential oil is an entirely natural ingredient, and with its anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, it provides many benefits and uses, including:
- It can kill bacteria trapped in pores and cause breakouts.
- It can have a brightening effect on the skin. Caution: lemon essential oil can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
- Help give your complexion a refreshed, healthy-looking glow when added to a homemade exfoliant scrub.
- A drop or two in your water can naturally cleanse the body and aid digestion.
- Add a sweet and zesty punch to treats and dessert recipes.
- To fight exhaustion.
- Help with depression.
- It can alleviate anxiety and stress.
- Relieve morning sickness symptoms in pregnant women.
- Perk up your mood and boosts brain power.
- Eliminate odors and keep your house smelling fresh, bright, and clean.
- When applied to furniture, it leaves a clean shine, helps prevent fine wood finishes from drying out, and replaces lost moisture.
- Rub off tarnish and bring back the natural beauty of your metals.
- Mix with vinegar to use it as a homemade non-toxic cleaning solution for countertops, bathroom sinks, etc.
Take note when using essential oils
Although essential oils are mostly natural products, you should still be cautious when using them.
- Essential oils are heavily concentrated and irritate the skin, so never apply them undiluted to the skin.
- Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil to a ratio of 3-5 drops per 1 ounce carrier oil. Carrier oils include vegetable, coconut, or jojoba oil. You can also mix essential oils with water, witch hazel toner, or apple cider vinegar.
- Do a patch test before trying a new essential oil, and wait 24 hours to see if there are any reactions.
- The FDA does not regulate essential oils, so when shopping for your favorite oil, ensure you buy from a reputable brand that guarantees 100% pure, quality oil to reap maximum benefits.
- Consult your doctor if you are unsure about using essential oils or when wanting to treat an ailment naturally. Whether a specific oil is safe depends on several factors, including age, health conditions, and medication use.
- Exercise caution when using essential oils when pregnant or breastfeeding and using them around or on infants and children. Always consult a medical expert and do research in these situations.