What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils seem to be everywhere these days. But what exactly is an essential oil? It’s important to know the difference between an essential oil and other types of plant extracts so that you get the best benefits.
All plants have oils inside of them. These oils play a role in the life cycle of the plant from attracting pollinating insects to defending the plant from predators, microbes to securing its place in the environment.
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils extracted from plants. In order to create this highly concentrated version, a process called distillation is used. All parts of a plant from roots to flowers can contain the oils. Distillation uses steam to extract the oils and separate them into a more highly concentrated form.
Some essential oils are extracted using mechanical means and are pressed out of the plant. This is particularly true for essential oils derived from citrus fruits. In still other cases chemicals are used to extract the oils.
Just as essential oils work to protect and nurture plants, they can be put to use to help people. They can be used as medicine to relieve pain, reduce stress, help nausea and other digestive problems, and improve our immune systems.
It’s important that you look for true essential oils if you want to use them therapeutically. Essential oils are all natural and shouldn’t be confused with perfume oils that are synthetically developed in a lab. Perfume oils don’t have any therapeutic value.
You can purchase essential oils as individual, pure products. You can also buy them in blends and/or added to carrier oils. Purchasing them individually gives you the most potent form. However, buying blended versions can also be beneficial.
A blend will often contain oils that work together in harmony for a specific need. For example, a headache blend that contains several essential oils known for headache relief. You can also purchase individual oils and create your own blends.
Oils can be applied directly to the skin in some cases. Those that are too strong for skin on their own can be mixed with oils such as coconut or grapeseed oils. Additionally you can diffuse essential oils to use for aromatherapy.
Currently there is no industry standard for certifying the purity of essential oils, so you’ll need to look for oils from reputable companies that guarantee quality. Look for a 100% pure essential oil that doesn’t contain fillers or added chemicals.
You’ll also find that the price of essential oils can be widely variable. The higher the quality the higher you can expect the price. Additionally there are some essential oils from plants that cost more and therefore have a higher price.
Essential oils typically come in glass vials that don’t react with the oils to contaminate them. You’ll also find that they are stored in dark or amber glass which protects them from light.
When you purchase essential oils you should store them at room temperature in their original container. If you create blends or lotions, make sure you store them in dark glass to preserve them properly.
What is Aromatherapy?
If you’re interested in harnessing the power of plants for healing and wellness, aromatherapy is the perfect practice. And while you may have heard a lot about aromatherapy you may not be sure what it actually is.
Aromatherapy is a practice that seems like a modern trend. However, this has been a natural health practice for thousands of years. Aromatic oils were used in religious ceremonies and in baths centuries ago.
This practice uses the scents from the essential oils of plants to promote health and wellbeing. These oils can come from the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, or bark of plants that are grown in native areas or in controlled environments such as greenhouses.
Aromatherapy can take place in a number of ways. Oils can be diffused into the air using an electric diffuser or even just a little oil placed on a piece of cotton and worn on the body. Diffusing allows you to fill a large space with aroma or keep it personal.
You can also inhale essential oils directly from the bottle – although this method might not be as convenient as others. Essential oils are often too strong to be applied directly to skin, but when added to carrier oil they can be used in massage therapy.
Some people practice aromatherapy by adding a few drops of essential oils to their bathwater. And some oils are safe to rub directly onto the skin. However, it’s important to do your homework before doing so.
There are many health benefits to using essential oils. They often have antimicrobial properties meaning they fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause discomfort and illness.
Essential oils can also promote relaxation. Essential oils such as lavender and chamomile have been shown to help you relax and calm anxiety. You may also find that you sleep better when using essential oils.
Using a diffuser for essential oils can improve your respiratory health. Some oils can help to clean the air and kill microbes that can cause infections. By purifying the air you breathe they can help reduce your risk of developing illness.
Many people report that essential oils have helped them with conditions such as depression, cancer side effects, swelling, pain, inflammation, skin conditions, and digestion.
How you use essential oils will depend on your own needs. It’s important to learn about specific oils as you determine how you will use them. While there is a lot you can learn on your own, you may want to look for someone who is a certified aromatherapist.
Aromatherapists are required to study anywhere from 30-200 hours of training and an exam in order to achieve certification, depending on the type of certification. They learn about specific oils, the best way to use them, and how to ensure safety.
Whether you want to provide a calming environment in your home or you want to get relief form a particularly illness or health problem, aromatherapy provides a natural and effective solution. Essential oils can address a wide variety of conditions and improve your wellness.
Aromatherapy – How to Get Started Safely
As you’ve learned about the amazing health benefits of essential oils, you may be ready to get started. But aromatherapy can seem overwhelming. Which essential oils do you begin with and what do you need to get started?
There are several things you can do to get on the path of aromatherapy – and do so safely. While aromatherapy is typically very safe, essential oils are powerful and can interact with some health conditions and medications.
Knowledge is Power
One thing you can do before you get started is learn as much as you can. Consider the health issues that are your top priority and learn which essential oils are most beneficial for those issues.
You can also learn about the various ways to apply essential oils and perform aromatherapy and consider your own lifestyle and preferences. For some people this will mean choosing essential oil blends that are already made and for others this may mean creating blends at home.
You can also learn about which companies produce the best essential oils and avoid accidentally falling prey to synthetic perfume oils that are never therapeutic. Books can provide you with recipes for creating blends as well as making your own soaps, lotions, and other products.
Start with a Beginner Kit
As a beginner, it can be easiest to start with a beginner kit. This usually includes several individual oils as well as some blends. Kits are offered by a variety of essential oil companies and you can choose a kit based on your greatest needs.
Typically you’ll want to make sure you have lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, rosemary, peppermint, and frankincense. These are some of the most commonly used oils and will go a long way.
You may also get blended oils for things like cough and cold, headaches, pain relief, and cleaning. Often beginner kits come with a case that allows you to store your oils properly. Purchasing a kit can also give you the benefit of a discounted price.
You’ll also need to have some carriers on hand. For oils that can’t be placed directly on your skin you’ll need a carrier that can diffuse the oil. Many people use coconut oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil. You can also add essential oils to salts.
You’ll also want to invest in a diffuser for aromatherapy. Some people simply use a cotton ball or cloth with a few drops of oil. This is a very simple system that works for you personally.
But you can also purchase diffusers that are made into jewelry, pens, or worn on your wrist. Additionally you can purchase electric diffusers for your car or for entire rooms. These have heat and fans to help move the essential oils through the room.
For most people, essential oils are very safe to use. But for some conditions or when taking some prescriptions, specific essential oils can be dangerous. It’s important that you talk with your healthcare provider before beginning to use essential oils – especially if you’re pregnant, take prescription medications, or have a known health condition.
Main Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy provides a natural way to prevent illness, treat health conditions, and provide natural healing. Read on to learn some of the main benefits of this natural health practice.
One of the best benefits of aromatherapy is stress relief. People turn to aromatherapy time and time again in order to feel more relaxed and reduce anxiety. Oils such as lemon oil, lavender, chamomile, and peppermint can all be used to help destress.
Many people also use aromatherapy to reduce depression and improve mood. Chamomile, peppermint, jasmine, and lavender have all been used for this purpose. It’s important, though, not to rely only on essential oils to treat a potentially complicated condition such as depression. They can be used in conjunction with professional help.
There are many essential oils that can boost energy. If you reach the point in the day where you feel you are dragging, a quick diffusion of essential oils can help to increase your circulation, stimulate your mind, and give you a pick-me-up. Oils such as cardamom, cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and sage are helpful for energy.
Many people suffer from headaches and essential oils can help reduce headaches or even eliminate them. Peppermint, sandalwood, rosemary, and eucalyptus can be used alone or in combination when headaches come on. Adding them to carrier oil and massaging them into your temples and neck can bring relief.
If you suffer from arthritis or other pain, aromatherapy can be beneficial. Lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, chamomile, and juniper can be added to lotions or baths to relieve pain without negative side effects.
If you suffer from frequent colds or infections, you can use aromatherapy to boost your immune system and keep them at bay. The best essential oils for your immune system include frankincense, lemon, cinnamon, peppermint, and eucalyptus. They help to boost your body’s natural immunity while fighting off bacteria and viruses.
If insomnia is a problem that causes you to have low energy throughout the day, essential oils can provide a solution. Using chamomile, rose, ylang ylang, and lavender can help to provide you with a good night’s sleep.
When it comes to digestion, aromatherapy can be very beneficial. Whether you suffer from nausea, constipation, or diarrhea, there’s an essential oil that can bring relief. Using ginger and peppermint can relieve nausea while lemon and orange can be used to improve other digestive maladies.
All in all when you use aromatherapy you can improve your wellness. Some people choose to use aromatherapy on its own while others find that it’s a good complement to traditional medical therapies.
Regardless of how you choose to use it, aromatherapy provides healing and wellness without adding harmful side effects the way that many pharmaceuticals can. At the same time, it’s important to remember that even herbal medicine can have side effects or interact with medical conditions.
Harnessing the power of nature, aromatherapy will allow you to have better wellbeing without harsh chemicals. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re using natural solutions that really work.
The Healing Properties of Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used for overall health and wellbeing and can provide healing. You can use them in three different ways and reap benefits from the natural chemicals inside of them.
Essential oils can be applied to the skin either directly or added to a carrier oil. You will be able to inhale some of the aroma as you apply them but you’ll also be able to absorb some through the skin.
Your skin is permeable and oily substances are able to pass through it. The active chemicals in essential oils will be able to go straight into your skin and enter the bloodstream. This boosts their healing properties.
There are some areas of the body where essential oils are absorbed faster such as the head, soles of the feet, palms of the hands, and armpits. These areas have more sweat glands and hair follicles that help absorb oils.
When you inhale the fragrance of essential oils you’re actually inhaling the chemicals in them. This enters through your nose or mouth and into your respiratory system. From these soft tissues your bloodstream is able to absorb the chemicals.
They can also pass through the blood into the brain. So while aromatherapy may seem like just “smelling something nice” the truth is you are actually delivering natural medicines to your bloodstream and into the rest of your body.
Ingesting Essential Oils
While some people choose to ingest essential oils, this is not a recommended practice especially for someone new to their use. Some essential oils passing through the digestive system and ingesting essential oils can be toxic to the liver or kidneys.
And moving through the digestive system with exposure to stomach acids actually can change the properties of the essential oils and render them ineffective as well as dangerous. You can also experience drug interactions. Always check with a healthcare provider before ingesting essential oils.
Understanding the Healing Properties
Many essential oils have healing properties. These can be categorized in different ways. For example, some are antimicrobial. That means they kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause disease. This is true of thyme and myrrh.
Anti-inflammatory essential oils help to reduce inflammation in the body. This can come from environmental toxins and disease. Anti-inflammatory essential oils include rosemary, lemon, and lavender.
Essential oils can also support and protect the respiratory system. For example, chamomile, eucalyptus, and frankincense are known to protect the lungs. The digestive system can also be supported by essential oils such as chamomile, cardamom, ginger, and peppermint.
Headaches can be relieved by chamomile, peppermint, rosemary, and lavender essential oils. And sunburn can also be soothed by chamomile, eucalyptus, and lavender.
Essential oils work with the body to help it naturally heal rather than adding synthetic chemicals that can do more harm than help. Just as the chemicals in these plants in nature help them to ward of disease and have good health, they can help human bodies do the same.
Restore Energy And Alleviate Stress With Aromatherapy
The story of our lives is one of surviving physical drift, emotional triggers and sensory blitz. We have created a kind of modern existence that also gave birth to development that the human body is sometimes unable to tackle in the same speed and efficiency. As a result, our contemporary lifestyle has become replete with a myriad of stressors that put a strain on our physical health and emotional wellbeing.
Every day we go through life’s daily grind and we do so in ways that test our ability to adapt to a fast-paced environment offering a multitude of distractions. Before we even knew what was going on, becoming stressed and lethargic to the point of inertness has become the sin of our times.
Most of us have responded to this original sin with another: Spending buckets on expensive and time consuming treatments and palliative approaches in an attempt to energize our senses and revitalize our health. Contemporary human existence has given birth to well-stocked drugstores, well-heeled indulgences and exquisite therapeutic procedures to liberate our mind and body from layers upon layers of stress.
Yet some have chosen to take the road less traveled by turning to some very potent alternatives to commercial conveniences that can heal us in ways that do not burn a hole through our pockets and require us to momentarily escape our stressful lives rather than dealing with it squarely. One such way of stimulating our senses and revitalizing our body is aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy refers to the use of aromatic and essential oils extracted from the leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits and barks of herbs, plants and trees to improve health and promote wellness.
Depending on the type or combination used, the preventive, healing and regenerative properties of these oils are able to trigger certain emotional and physiological reactions to treat specific ailments or promote vitality.
There are about 400 different types of essential and aromatic oils derived from plants, each said to have certain therapeutic properties.
Some are rather cheap and are easily available in local health stores, while some are more difficult to procure because they grow only in specific regions or require more plant parts for oil extraction.
Some of the most common oils for relieving stress and revitalizing the body are:
• Sweet orange
Although aromatherapy has been used by humans even before humanity gave birth to modern medicine and science, scientific research and contemporary practice has improved on both the effective and convenient usage of aromatherapy as a natural alternative to healing and wellness.
Nowadays, aromatherapy is integrated in many other natural healing practices owing to the positive effects of aromatic and essential oils in carrying nutrients to our body’s cells through skin absorption and in deploying therapeutic and healing signals to the brain through inhalation, thus stimulating the olfactory nerves that are connected directly to the brain.
The Power Of Inhaling
Because of the unique ability of essential and aromatic oils to reach the nerves of our nose that are located close to the brain, aromatherapy is often associated with stimulating our sense of smell.
While the general practice of aromatherapy also involves using oils as food supplements, in cooking and baking and through topical application, aromatherapy is most known for its practice of inhaling essential and aromatic oils during massage, through a diffuser or even by taking a whiff directly from an oil bottle.
Aromatherapy History And Uses
This practice is popular, and of course for good reasons. For centuries, human beings have practiced aromatherapy mainly as a way to stimulate the senses and send healing signals to the brain by way of stimulating the sense of smell.
From religious rituals that use burning coals doused with oils to how the smell of chicken soup evokes a sense of security and brings us to the path of recuperation, certain scents stimulate our senses and revitalizes the body.
Humanity has been using aromatherapy even before our modern lifestyle invented stress and fatigue.
There is also the invention of aromatherapy massage, which, is a wonderful way to bring yourself to a total state of serenity and bliss.
So whenever you feel a need to perk up and fight stress, keep in mind that your body will thank you for keeping that oil bottle handy.