What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. If you have ever enjoyed the gift of a rose, a walk by a field of lavender, or the smell of fresh cut mint, you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils provide plants with protection against predators and disease and play a role in plant pollination.
Essential oils have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Modern scientific study and the current trend towards more holistic approaches to wellness are driving a revival and new discovery of essential oil remedies.
How to use essential oils
Essential oils are used for a very wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends depending on user experience and desired benefit. Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally.
Our sense of smell influences many physiological pathways including the stimulation of hormones and other metabolic processes. Aromatherapy is founded on the body's predictable response to specific olfactory stimuli. Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy applications. Certain essential oils, when diffused in the air, can be very stimulating while others can be calming and soothing. Beyond emotional benefits, diffusing essential oils can purify air of unwanted odors and some airborne pathogens. Low or no-heat essential oil diffusers are recommended as they do not change the chemical structure of the oil being diffused. Essential oils can also be used as cleansing and purifying additives to laundry and surface cleaners throughout the home.
Due to their natural molecular composition, essential oils are easily absorbed by the skin and can be safely applied topically. Application of essential oils can have immediate, localized benefit to the target area of application. They have restorative and calming properties and can be used effectively with massage and beauty therapy. They are also natural disinfectants. The chemical structure of essential oils also allows them to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin for internal benefit throughout the body.
Essential oils can also be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. Some essential oils have powerful antioxidant properties while others help support healthy inflammatory response in cells. Many essential oils are generally regarded as being safe for dietary use, but some oils should not be taken internally. Do not use any essential oil product internally that does not have the appropriate dietary supplement facts on its label.
Using essential oils can be both profoundly simple and life changing at the same time. Working with someone who has used essential oils before will help first-time users have a more beneficial and enjoyable experience. A large amount of information is readily available for those desiring to increase their knowledge of essential oil applications.
(Be sure to use only 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oils and follow all label warnings and instructions. Essential oils should not be used in the eyes, inside the ear canal, or in open wounds. If redness or irritation occurs when using essential oils topically, simply apply any vegetable oils such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil to the affected area. Consult your physician before using essential oils if you are pregnant or under a doctor's care.)
What you want is 100% pure natural aromatic compounds carefully extracted from plants that do not contain fillers or artificial ingredients that would dilute their active qualities. Proper extraction and quality control methods also ensure essential oils that are free of any contaminants such as pesticides or other chemical residues. Furthermore you want essential oils subjected to high quality testing that ensures the correct composition of the active natural compounds found in each oil. Even though an essential oil may be 100% pure, if the right species or part of a plant has not been used, or if the plant has not been grown in the right environment or harvested at the right time, or if it has not been distilled under the right conditions, the natural chemical makeup of the extraction will not provide as predictable and powerful a benefit. In some cases, the wrong plant harvested at the wrong time may result in an extract that contains harmful levels of some constituents.