From stress relief and a boost of the immune system to a reduction of headaches and improved sleep – essential oils are popping up everywhere these days. Whether it is spas, home parties, or medicine cabinets more people claim that along with the rush of attractive scent, they can offer a wide range of benefits for both body and mind. But what’s the truth behind these concentrated plant-based oils and do they actually work? Let’s dig into the specifics of essential oils and what they might do for you.
Inside, many plants are concentrated with highly potent chemical compounds that are hidden in roots, seeds, flowers, and bark. These natural compounds are well-known as essential oils and give a plant its scent, defend it from hazardous environmental conditions, and even assist it with pollination, among other vital functions and benefits.
Some oils descend from pits such as apricot, grape, peach, and other oils. There are also citrus fruits such as orange or grapefruit, and various flowers such as marigold, geranium, jasmine, and others, as well as pine, cypress, and juniper. Certain of them are extracted from nuts such as nutmeg or almonds, and various herbs such as mint and wormwood. They are all different in smell and potential positive impact.
Since essential oils include biological compounds, the oils have complex biochemical interactions in the human body and create various reactions in enzymes and hormones.
Inhaling essential oils can activate areas of your limbic system, which is a part of the brain responsible for a sense of smell, emotions, behaviours, and long-term memory as well as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
When essential oils are applied to the skin, some plant chemicals are absorbed. For example, some application methods can improve absorption when heated or on different parts of the body. However, there is a lack of research in this area.
The following list shows the most critical properties found most often in essential oils:
- Kill bacterial, viral, and fungal infections;
- Seal wounds;
- Reduce inflammation;
- Regulate hormones;
- Tone and moisten the skin;
- Stimulate the immune system.
Essential oils are beneficial to the body, but they differ from traditional cosmetic oils as they do not contain glycerin and are not applied directly to the skin. Moreover, unlike base oils that practically do not smell, essential oils have a rich aroma, and they should be mixed with base oil or water and only then applied to the skin or hair. If you want to achieve the desired effect, it will be enough to use 1-3 drops due to its high concentration.
It should be noted that essential oils with antiseptic effect are actively used in medicine. Doctors utilize them not only to provide the first help for cuts and grazes and for prevention and treating cold but also to clean the air in the room. In this case, the healing effect happens with the help of inhaling the aroma and results directly on the skin. At the same time, essential oils are traditionally used:
- In aromatherapy;
- In perfumery and cosmetology at the manufacturing of perfumes and tools that care of skin and hair;
- In medicine in the manufacture of drugs and gastronomy;
- As flavour enhancers.
So, how to choose the right essential oil, and what advantages can be gained from particular oil?
There are over 90 types of essential oils, and each of them has several characteristics, its own unique smell, and health advantages. While essential oils have been used by many cultures around the globe for centuries to prevent and treat different ailments naturally, they might not work for everyone. Also, it’s crucial to mention that a small number of individuals may experience irritation or allergic reactions to particular essential oils. That’s why essential oils should not be used to cure any severe disease without consulting your doctor first.
Choice of specific essential oil depends on which fragrances you prefer and what symptoms you are looking to ease. Here’s a list of 10 most popular essential oils and the health claims associated with them:
- Peppermint is used to tone, refresh, stimulate, improve your immune system, boost energy, and aid digestion;
- Lavender has a calming effect and is typically used to relieve stress and anxiety;
- Sandalwood possesses grounding and mood-enhancing properties and is used to calm nerves, help with focus, support wound healing, and fight bacteria;
- Bergamot is commonly used to relieve stress, pain, nausea and vomiting, and improve skin conditions like eczema;
- CBD oil is not an essential oil, but this popular remedy can also be used instead of a specific oil or in addition to your oil regiment. It is made of hemp plant extract, different carrier oils, and flavours or scents to help reduce stress, anxiety, improve mood, focus, and sleep quality;
- Chamomile is used to enhance mood, calm nerves, and provide relaxation. Furthermore, it can help to reduce cramps and muscle pain;
- Ylang-Ylang is used to treat headaches, nausea, and different skin conditions;
- Tea Tree is used to boost immunity while being useful in fighting infections, treating acne, lice, athlete’s foot, nail fungus, and insect bites due to anti-bacterial properties;
- Jasmine can help with depression, childbirth, and libido, increase daytime alertness and improve sleep quality;
- Lemon is used to aid digestion, depression, and headaches, fight exhaustion, reduce inflammation, improve mood, and promote clear skin.