What are Essential Oils?
- Plants contain ‘aromatic compounds/fragrances’ that make them smell nice and also protect them from insects and their environment
- These compounds/fragrances that protect the plant also have great healing benefits for people
- Essential Oils are the condensed oil form of the extracted compound/fragrance
- Different plants/oils have different healing properties (examples below)
*Aromatherapy is the form of alternative medicine that uses essential oils on people for their healing benefits
What are the Benefits of Essential Oils:
- Balances hormones
- Improves immunity
- Improves digestion
- Helps muscle aches
- Helps skin conditions
- Reduces wrinkles/cellulite
- Reduces stress
- Speeds up illness recovery
- Fights cold and flu symptoms
The Spiritual Benefits of Essential Oils:
They are unique because of their ability to engage both the mind + body simultaneously, thus enhancing the mind/ body/spirit connection.
- Remove mental and emotional obstacles
- Draw out inhibited emotions/different personality traits
- Help to let go of past experiences
- In contrast, can also help you reconnect with past experiences to help with self-reflection
- Free you up for personal transformation
The Most Popular Essential Oils & Ailments They Help with:
- Cinnamon = helps curb cravings and with weight loss
- Eucalyptus = improves respiratory issues, invigorates and purifies the body
- Frankincense = helps with thyroid, bruises and nail beds
- Ginger = reduces inflammation, supports joints, improves digestion and nausea
- Grapefruit = supports metabolism and cellulite reduction
- Lavender = helps improve sleep, reduce stress, increase relaxation, improve mood, heal cuts and burns, stimulate hair growth, improves skin health i.e. eczema and cracked hands/heels **lavender+frankinscene helps with bruises
- Lemon = great antibacterial for body and also as a cleaning product
- Oregano = anti-parasitic that helps with athlete’s foot, ringworm, and warts, as well as reduces achy muscles/speeds up muscle recovery *don't be trying to get the oregano from the spice drawer and rubbing it all over...it might just smell weird and not quite have the effect you were looking for except for your family/friends giving you odd stares ;)
- Peppermint = helps reduce nausea, fever, sinus congestion, and bad breath
- Rose = reduced skin inflammation, increases skin health, reduces feelings of depression, boosts mood
- Rosemary = great for hair and scalp health, brain function and memory
How are They Made?
The oils are extracted/separated from the plant 1 of 3 ways:
- Distillation = steaming, think heating test tube to get steam then cooling to get condensed form
- Solvent extraction = using a solvent like hexane to separate the oil from the plant, not ideal as can leave toxic residue, although CO2 method ok
- Cold pressing = less toxic method, literally pressing them, mostly the citrus essential oils
How Do They Work?
The oils are absorbed into your skin, your lungs, and in some instances your bloodstream which then transports the healing benefits to your organs
How To Use Them:
You can use them 1 of 3 different ways: topically (apply to the skin), with a diffuser (using sticks or machine), or ingesting them. The topical and diffuser method are very effective. Ingestion is much more extreme and really should be for the veteran essential oil user.
TOPICALLY = You mix 1-2 drops of essential oil with 1 tsp of a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or shea butter. Then apply it to your skin near your sweat glands i.e. armpits, feet, hands. Note this is not a moisturizer you lather on, you only need a few drops mixed with a carrier oil to have great effects. *Other carrier oils: argan oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil **See the bottle for individual details on ratio of essential oil drops to carrier oil
DIFFUSER = Put in a diffuser machine and then pumped into the air in your home. *Some research demonstrates the diffuser method allows the oils to be absorbed into the bloodstream, which then transports it to your organs. It is because of its ability to enter your bloodstream that it can in fact be even more effective than ingesting them, but also has the perk of being a safer method.
INGESTING = literally taking by mouth. Should only be done with the guidance of a medical professional given the high concentration of essential oils/potency and thus potential effect on the body. *Topical and diffuser are really the better options here given their accessibility and effectiveness.
First Timers Trying Out Essential Oils?
- For first timers, your best bet is to try topically or using a diffuser.
- Also, start with just one type of essential oil rather than getting a whole bunch of oils. That way you can actually test to see whether it provides any benefit. If you test a bunch all at once, you won’t be able to determine which one has the best impact.
Where Can I Buy Them?
The quality can vary greatly so best to go organic and not to cheap out. Here are two good options:
What are the Side Effects?
- Best to avoid during pregnancy or nursing
- Less is more for essential oils - given their high potency it is best to use minimal amounts to reap the best benefits
- Overdoing it, can have adverse effects/prevent you from getting outcome you’re aiming for
- They can leach on surfaces, so be careful to store in or on glass not in plastic
Is There any Scientific Proof of this Helping?
People find great benefit from them; however, science is skeptical on whether it can treat/cure conditions. It is true that Egyptians, Chinese, Jews, Greeks, and Indians have been using essential oils as far back as 4500 BCE. They are also now used in medical hospitals. So, it is for you to enjoy exploring whether this provides you any benefit in your individual wellness journey armed with all the facts.
For further reading, I recommend the below articles.
- Essential Oil Lecture at New York Open Centre, NY, NY with Glen Marcus, ND
Photo credits: 1st Viet Vang, 2nd Christin Hum, and 3rd Aaron Burden from Unsplash, 4th unnnamed