Essential Oils

Essential oils can bring transformation to your daily routine, whether in the bath, on skin or added to a diffuser. Their aromatherapy-driven benefits may ease muscle soreness, anxiety or enhance meditation practice.

But how exactly do they work and are they safe to use? This article answers these and more.

Introduction

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts containing aromatic compounds found in flowers, giving them their distinctive fragrance. Essential oils have long been utilized as medicine and health remedies in various cultures for antidepressant, stimulating, calming, detoxifying and immune-enhancing benefits.

Essential oil extraction techniques vary, with the most popular method involving steaming or pressing plant parts to capture volatile scent molecules, before distilling or cold-pressing to extract pure oil from them. Pre-made or blended oils can also be purchased from health food stores.  It is important that they purchase high-quality oils that should only be used according to instructions.  A possible concern is their potency could lead to irritation or poisoning when consumed improperly.

Essential oils are often utilized through inhalation from a diffuser or topical application with carrier oils. When inhaled, their fragrance molecules travel from the olfactory nerves into the limbic system of the brain where they affect emotions, memories and sensations.  This explains why people suffering from headaches and migraines can often find relief using essential oils.

Oils may also be applied directly to the skin for soothing aches and pains, as well as overall wellness benefits. To get started using them, select several oils you think could benefit you before testing them on your skin.  Use only a small amount at first before waiting 30 minutes to see how your body responds.  If any drops enter your eyes or mucous membranes, rinse well or seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Benefits

Aromatherapy is the primary use for essential oils. When inhaled, their scent molecules travel up the nose and stimulate olfactory nerves connected to the brain.  When applied directly to skin, they have the same impact and are frequently used in massage therapy sessions. Furthermore, some molecules can even be absorbed via lung or digestive tract absorption to provide overall body benefits.

Essential oil benefits tend to be anecdotal.  However, scientific research increasingly supports some of their claims. Essential oils have been recognized for having antidepressant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, diuretic and insecticidal properties.  Some may help improve mood, sleep quality, digestion or energy levels! They may be applied directly onto skin surfaces, inhaled directly or diffused for even greater effects.

Experts advise using a carrier oil such as jojoba, castor or avocado oil when applying topicals directly onto skin for easier absorption and possible allergic reactions. Start with just a few drops at first, and adding more once you have tested for sensitivities.

Although essential oils are most frequently used in diffusers, other ways exist for using them effectively and safely in your life. You could add them to bath water, laundry loads or apply it directly onto cotton balls before sleeping or traveling, giving your home an intoxicating aroma with natural goodness! You could also drop some on pillows or carpets to create pleasant scent in the home.

Uses

Applying scent molecules topically allows them to enter your bloodstream and distribute throughout your body, potentially impacting different systems and conditions. Peppermint oil has been shown to relieve IBS symptoms when taken orally as capsules. Applying directly on temples may reduce headaches. Lavender can be inhaled or applied topically on feet before sleep to improve sleep.  Adding frankincense oil could help decrease anxiety by adding it into a bath soak.

Many people also incorporate essential oils into household and personal care products like soap, shampoo, lotions and other cosmetics.  Essential oils have numerous health benefits including relieving irritation to your skin, improving mood and acne treatment, as well as sun damage protection and thickening hair follicles. 

Selecting high-grade therapeutic grade essential oils is of utmost importance.  However, since the industry is unregulated, it may be difficult to know exactly what you’re purchasing. Consult an aromatherapist or herbalist before using essential oils therapeutically.

Safe To Use?

Although oil advocates claim essential oils provide multiple health benefits, including increased energy and mental clarity, there’s limited scientific proof they actually work as advertised. While lab studies may show certain essential oils kill certain strains of bacteria (Lyme disease for instance), results from human clinical trials vary considerably.

That is why it is essential to choose your oils carefully and apply them correctly. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and direct application could cause skin irritation.  Always use dilution and skin testing as mentioned previously.

Consuming essential oils in even small doses can be harmful and cause liver or nerve damage, and their use should generally not be applied or diffused around infants or children due to thinner skin, less developed livers and immune systems.  With children in the house, you must use a secure storage method.

Essential oil interactions should also be considered when taking medications and supplements, such as blood pressure medications, antidepressants and antibiotics. Finally, many essential oils are flammable and should not be kept near an open flame or sunlight, as direct heat can alter their chemical makeup and composition.

Use any of these products slowly and carefully, being mindful of concentrations, drug interactions, and potential negative side effects.  Avoid anyone who hypes the product as a miracle cure.

Essential Oil Diffuser

An essential oil diffuser uses aromatic oils to produce fine mists of particles that fill the air and leave behind an aromatic scent, helping you improve your mood and relax with calming scents like lavender and eucalyptus, providing easy aromatherapy in any space of your home or office.

 An essential oil diffuser is a device that uses ultrasonic or nebulization technology to break down essential oils into fine mist particles, dispersed through the air. Diffusers typically come equipped with an on/off switch and light to add ambience, and can be adjusted according to your desired outcomes during aromatherapy sessions. 

There are various kinds of diffusers on the market today, from tabletop units to portable plug-in models using either USB power or electrical outlets for power. When selecting a diffuser, it’s essential that you read and follow its manufacturer’s instructions when adding water and oils.  Some devices use heat while others rely on fans to disperse oil mists evenly across your room.

An ultrasonic diffuser uses a small plate that vibrates at high frequencies to vibrate water and oils at an ultrasonic frequency to transform them into fine mist particles that dispers into the air, providing a safe method of aromatherapy that doesn’t release harmful vapors into the environment. There are numerous models of ultrasonic diffusers to choose from that suit any space and budget, making finding one easy.

While certain diffusers produce stronger mists of aroma than others, it is still possible to create an effective fragrance in any space by choosing and using essential oils correctly. It is also important to keep in mind that essential oils can be powerful agents; leaving your diffuser running for too long could result in olfactory fatigue, the loss of your ability to perceive certain scents after prolonged exposure.

Aromatherapy can not only promote relaxation and stress reduction, but can also help battle seasonal allergies or the common cold by keeping airways clear. Eucalyptus, tea tree oil and lemon balm oils are some of the best therapeutic oils to use for this purpose in a diffuser.

Diffusing essential oils may create an atmosphere of wellbeing by increasing feelings of calmness and decreasing symptoms of depression. 

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