All you need to know about essential oils

In recent days the use of essential oils is steadily rising among common people. They are predominantly used for aromatherapy and as a supplement for a healthy organic lifestyle. Yet they are not short of controversial health claims. Let’s see what are they, how to make the best use of them and what are the cautions one needs to take.

What are essential oils

Essential oils are concentrated compounds extract from herbs, leaves, barks, and rinds. Where each type of oil compounds has it’s own characteristics essence. After extraction of oil from the corresponding herbs then they usually mixed with a carrier oil for medical or commercial use.

The method of oil extraction is very important as if any chemical process involved then they are not considered true essential oils. Essential oils usually come in the form of oil, gel, capsule, cream, etc.

How to use

The way of using essential oils vary with symptoms one deals with, but they are not meant for intakes.

Essential oils are commonly used by rubbing it on the chest, by inhaling the smell or, dripping them in our bath. But it’s always advisable to read the instructions on how to use or consulting a doctor. Rubbing lemongrass or peppermint oil on the face or other sensitive parts instead of arms and legs can cause inflammation or other side effects.

Some essence is directly applied to the skin where the plant’s chemical gets absorbed in. Though certain oils are applied on the skin using different methods like warming them before applying, soaking them in the oil and placing it on the required part.

The oil extraction such as lavender, rosewater is used to alleviate stress and anxiety by smelling their essence. Scientist suggests these aromas send chemical signals to the brain that controls the mood which in turn help in easing the pressure. But that doesn’t mean you will become stress-free but aid to relax.

Types and purpose

There are a wide variety of essential oils used worldwide, let’s see some of the widely used essential oils and their purposes.

Lavender, bergamot, rose chamomile oils commonly used to enhance mood and aid relaxation. They help in relieving stress and anxiety.

Source: Photo by Chelsea Shapouri

Lemon and peppermint oils are used to boost the digestive system as they are well known for their medicinal properties.

Ylang-ylang and sandalwood oils help in calming down the nerves and improve with our focus. They are also effective for certain skin conditions.

Jasmine essential oils help with libido, childbirth-related problems. Jasmine does have a certain essence that aid in reducing stress, thus elevating other emotions.

Tea tree oil is one of the vital and widely used oils for its valuable properties. They fight infections and enhance immunity which is crucial to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Benefits of essential oils

As we have already discussed how to use essential oil and types of them, let’s see some of the key benefits in detail.

Reducing headache

In early studies, scientists have found applying peppermint oil and ethanol to the forehead help relieving headaches.

Well in recent studies it’s been suggested that dabbing a combination of chamomile and sesame oil on the forehead treats migraine and headache. While this used to be the traditional Persian remedy for headaches.

Source: Photo by Christin Hume

An antibiotic

Peppermint and tea tree oil are widely used for their antibiotic properties. As they are extensively rich in antimicrobial effects. Though they have various applications they are commonly used to aid immunity and digestive system.

Miscellaneous

Other than just using essential oils for the medicinal values they are used as scents and room fresheners or even to freshen up the clothes.

Even in some cases, it’s suggested certain essential oils are used as a mosquito repellent, which can be environmentally friendly and also replace man-made chemical repellents.

Picking the right oil

As in any type of product has counterfeits with their false claims like “100% pure” or “organic”, essential oils also stuck into it. So while buying an essential oil one has to make sure of certain things.

Finding an oil containing aromatic compounds without any additives or synthetic oils. Plant’s botanical names are usually listed in the label of pure oils rather than just mentioning the oil name.

Source: Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Quality of an essential oil always lies in its pure form, which means it has to be least altered by the process of extraction. Picking an essential oil with a chemical-free process is one of the important aspects of buying a quality essential oil.

For a simpler process of picking a quality oil, one can purchase by trusting the reputation of a brand that may be known for its high quality and authentic products.

We must always make sure to go through these steps to buy quality essential oils.

Side effects

Everything natural is not a medicine and safe, only few which are tried and tested are. As herbs and plants have many bioactive compounds that may harm skin and health, essential oils which are just an extract of them can inflict the same consequences.

But inhaling or using with the mix of some base oil, they are considered harmless. However one must be sure to be aware of people surrounded by them like pregnant women, children, pets or patients with breathing problems while inhaling the aroma as it could affect them.

Still, essential oils may cause side effects such as rashes, headaches, allergies, and asthma. Though it may be due to various reasons, one has to immediately consult a doctor in that case.

Source: Photo by Drew L

Essential oils made from citrus fruits like lemon can cause burns as a reaction to sunlight after applying it to the skin.

While one of the common side effects is a rash, some essential oils can cause adverse reactions. While peppermint, ylang-ylang and tea tree oils mostly allude with such side effects. Breastfeeding and pregnant women are advised to completely avoid them.

Using essential oils as a therapy for any minor problems are harmless. They are generally considered as safe to inhale or applying on appropriate skin as long as they are combined with a base oil. Anyone should try essential oils for their rich medicinal values and naturally treating illness.

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