If you have been to a reflexology centre or for aromatherapy, chances are you would have heard of something called essential oils. If you haven’t figure out what this is, then you might not know what it is all about. But you would surely have been asked on whether you would like to have essential oil treatment.
The truth about what is essential
When the term essential is used, it means necessary. But with essential oils, are they as essential as it claims? To some extent, there have been several controversies relating to the use of essential oils and if they are as beneficial as they claim.
What are they actually?
For starters, essential oils are made from plants. They are some form of compounds that are extracted from plants where the scent and flavor are used. What it means here really is the ‘essence’ of the plant which makes it unique. Each plant will have its own characteristics and that makes them unique.
How are essential oils obtained?
The process of distillation is used to obtain essential oils. There are certain types of methods like cold pressing and such. Distillation meanwhile can be done using water usually through a steaming process. After the extraction process, carrier oil is combined before the product is packed into the way it is sold.
Genuine and non-genuine oils
What differentiates the genuine and non-genuine essential oils is in the process by which they are made. When there are chemical processes involved in obtaining the essential oils, they are regarded as non-genuine. This is very important because there are certain users who have sensitive skins who might have a problem with the chemical substances. As such, they can only use genuine essential oils that use more conventional methods in obtaining them.
How do you use essential oils?
As mentioned, it is in the practice of aromatherapy that essential oils are most commonly used. They are usually inhaled using various apparatus and objects. What actually happens is that when the essential oil is felt by the body, it interacts in various ways. It must be noted that no essential oil is made to be consumed. The skin basically absorbs the plat chemicals if the essential oil is applied to the skin. Certain parties use different methods un applying essential oils so that they can be better absorbed. This can be done by applying heat. Besides that, certain parts of the body are known to absorb essential oils better than the rest.
Inhaling essential oils
In some cases, the limbic system in the body gets stimulated when the fragrance from the essential oil is inhaled. This is where the brain is stimulated through the sense of smell and invoke certain emotions. That which must be known is that the limbic system is the part of the body that is very much responsible in the forming of memory in the brain. As such, it is very common to hear of the phrase that certain smells can invoke certain memories.
Apart from the memory function, the limbic system is also involved in controlling some physiological functions that are subconscious. This includes the heart rate, the breathing process and the blood pressure within the body. When one relates this to the use of essential oils, people tend to draw the conclusion that essential oils have certain implications to the body especially in the physical context.
Types of Essential Oils
In terms of popularity, there are actually close to a hundred types of essential oils that are commonly used. What makes the popular is the fact that each essential oil has its own unique:
- Smell (or aroma)
- Health benefits
Below are some of the most commonly used essential oils that are known to most users.
- Lavender: One of the most popular types of essential oils. It is known for its healing properties. Besides that, lavender is known to promote better rest and sleep while helping to relieve stress
- Sandalwood: This popular scent is known to help to promote concentration and focus on thinking. It is a great oil that helps to calm nerves and encourage better relaxation.
- Peppermint: Not only used as an essential oil but in many types of foods too. It is known to help digestion and provide energy while calming nerves.
- Chamomile: This essential oil is a great remedy for relaxation while it helps to dispel bad moods too.
- Rose: One of the popular choices that have a calming effect. It improves the mood of the person and rejuvenates.
- Bergamot: This essential oil is one of the scents known to help people with skin conditions. It is also used to reduce stress
- Lemon: A popular oil with the scent that can create a good mood while relieves headaches. It is common that people with migraine is associated with this. Meanwhile, it also helps indigestion.
- Tea Tree: This essential oil can boost the immune system as it has properties that combat infections.
- Ylang-ylang: This scent helps people with skin problems like acne and eczema while it is also used to help people with nausea and vertigo.
- Jasmine: Improves libido and a very popular scent to treat those with depression. It is also used in certain alternative childbirth exercises.
What are the essential oils used for?
Perhaps the most common condition that essential oils are used to treat is anxiety and stress. It is after all used in aromatherapy which is all associated with relaxation. With the rising standards of living and stress that people are facing in today’s environment, essential oils become one of the most popular ‘answers’.
Another common condition that essential oils are used to treat is related to headaches. This includes vertigo, migraines and nausea where after using it for a period of time, the occurrences are known to be reduced.
It has not been scientifically concluded that essential oils can reduce inflammation although there is some minor evidence that suggested so. However, it can be confirmed though that essential oils actually help people with sleeping or resting problems. It has already been used to treat people with insomnia.
Tips when choosing an essential oil
Remembering that there is still not enough research evidence that essential oils are as effective as they claim, there are some pointers to help you find the right ones for you. At least, ensure that you are not buying fake essential oils.
- Always check the label. Every essential oil would have the actual name of the plant. Find out where it originates from.
- Brand – some brands are more renowned than others. If it is a brand that you are doubtful, avoid it.
- Container – When you buy essential oils, always buy those that are stored in glass bottles (or containers). They should usually be dark-colored.
- Purity – Pure essential oils only. Don’t buy those that say ‘fragrance’.
Are people allergic to them?
Generally, essential oils are safe for use and applied whether directly or indirectly. However, there are some who might experience skin irritation when coming in contact with them. If you are among those in this category, chances are you do have very sensitive skin or that you have atopic dermatitis. Hence, you might not want to use essential oils at all. Among the types of essential oils that are known to cause irritation to this group of people to include cinnamon bark oil, lemongrass oil, bergamot oil, ylang-ylang, oregano, chamomile and jasmine.
Are essential oils safe?
There are too many brands and names out there which means you will come across essential oils of different quality and levels. The variation is too great so much so that you might not know which one is the better one. The rule of thumb is to find the pure essential oils and if they don’t mention it, chances are they have been too diluted with other liquid or ingredients.
Note: The safest way is to use essential oils that come in bottles. Essential oil diffusers might not work for everyone, especially the young ones.
What might other safer usages?
- Essential oils for body – Olive, coconut and jojoba oils are among the most popular and very concentrated. Certain skin types might find this too heavy and you might not want to use too much of it on your skin.
- Accessories and sticks – There are essential oil accessories like bracelets and necklaces. Take note that you will be in close proximity and will be inhaling the essential oils for as long as you are wearing the accessory.