Essential oils are slowly gaining ground as an alternative to over-the-counter medications. Why? Simply because they’re used for countless means, such as a boost for one’s physical stamina, mental acuity, or emotional vigor. So, what exactly is an essential oil and how “essential” is it in terms of its benefits to one’s health?
What Is an Essential Oil?
An essential oil is a compound that has been taken from plants, either by cold pressing, distillation by water or steam or by mechanical methods. The flavor and scent are captured in the oil. This is the “essence” of the plant. Afterward, the oils are mixed with a carrier oil.
How Does It Work?
An essential oil works in a number of ways. It can be diluted and rubbed onto the skin. Another most common use of it is in aromatherapy, where the scent of the oil is inhaled. When the scent is inhaled, it stimulates an area in the limbic system which is a portion of the brain in charge of one’s behaviors, emotions, long-term memory, and sense of smell.
The limbic system also has a part in the control of unconscious biological functions like blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. Thus, essential oils indirectly affect the said functions as well.
1. Improves Mood
Skip the cup of Joe and go for essential oils to boost your mood. Certain oils can energize you and give you an optimistic feeling. Add it to your diffuser or your hot bath.
2. Prevents Stress and Anxiety
In aromatherapy, essential oils are beneficial in the treatment and prevention of psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, and stress. It helps boost one’s positivity by reducing the flurry of negative emotions.
3. Relieves Inflammation
Some essential oils contain properties that are anti-inflammatory. Whether applied directly or with a carrier oil, an essential oil can help reduce inflammation and irritation on the skin.
4. Relieves Pain
Unlike prescription medications used for pain relief that have side effects, essential oils have none. Apart from being safe for use when it comes to reducing pain, it does so quite fast.
5. Boosts Immune System
Essential oils have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties which can help in the prevention of illnesses. Studies have also shown that oils used in aromatherapy help in boosting one’s immune system.
6. Heals Irritations of the Skin
As mentioned, some essential oils have potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, these are perfect and safe to use as natural methods in curing the skin of irritations. Oils are absorbed faster by the skin and promote wound healing.
Best Essential Oils to Try
There is a vast variety of essential oils to try. While one essential oil has numerous health benefits, there’s nothing wrong with trying all of them to see which best works for you. Here are just some of the best oils to try.
This oil is great if you need an energy boost. Whether inhaled, applied, or ingested, it can leave you rejuvenated and refreshed. It also helps with your digestion, especially if you have problems in this area.
Get rid of acne, inflamed skin, or blemishes with the help of this oil. It works wonders as well on diaper rash when combined with coconut oil. Apart from its topical use, this oil is useful for relieving stress and fighting insomnia. Skip the sleeping pills and use this for your next aromatherapy session before hitting the sack.
A great option to use to relieve stress. Moreover, it’s a wonderful antiseptic because it works wonders on bruises, cuts, and skin irritations.
This essential oil has been used for more than 2,000 years. In fact, you’ve probably already seen it mentioned in the bible. That aside, this oil is perfect for relaxation. It helps reduce negative emotions that cause depression and stress. Plus, it can also be used as antiseptic for insect bites and minor cuts.
Clear chest and nasal congestions as well as sinuses with the help of this oil. It’s a natural lozenge that is great for individuals who are prone to getting colds or allergies that affect one’s breathing. Moreover, this oil helps boost one’s immunity and works as an antibacterial.
Tea Tree Oil
One other widely used oil is tea tree. It is one of the most potent treatments for fungal infections. Moreover, it’s excellent as a treatment of acne and skin blemishes.
How to Choose Essential Oils
With so many essential oils in the market, how do you choose one that’s of good quality and certified safe for use? Here are just a few pointers to take note of when choosing an essential oil.
- Reputation: As with any other product, opt for brands that have long been in business. Moreover, choose one that has already established a reputation for quality and safe products. While the price may be higher compared to other brands, you are assured of the safety, quality, and efficiency of the product.
- Quality: The method of extraction affects the quality of the oil. Do not choose those that have been extracted through chemical means. Instead, choose oils that have been taken via mechanical cold pressing or distillation.
- Purity: Skip oils that have too many additives. Also, don’t go for synthetic oils. Find one that is pure, and you’ll know this by the way the plant’s name is listed on the label. It should mention the botanical name of the plant.
Despite coming from natural means, essential oils aren’t certified safe for use for everyone. Herbal products and plants are packed with bioactive compounds that may be harmful to one’s health. An essential oil is not exempt from this. Some common side effects that may manifest when using essential oils include the following.
- Asthma Attack
- Rash or Skin Irritation
Rashes are common adverse reactions to the use of essential oils. Some of the oils that may cause this include ylang-ylang, tea tree, peppermint, and lavender. One other oil that can irritate the skin is cinnamon, especially if a base oil is not mixed with it.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, then it is highly advised that you avoid the use of essential oils. The use of an essential oil has yet to be examined in terms of its safety for such cases.