What Are Essential Oils, Anyway?
Essence extracted from plants makes essential oils. The essence of the plant is its scent, flavor, and other properties. Each oil has a distinctive aroma as a result of the aromatic compounds from the plant’s distillation.
There are a few methods of extraction when making essential oils. A distillation process creates essential oils, and this process uses steam or water. Cold pressing is a mechanical version of this process. The extracted essence is mixed with a carrier oil. The exact methods used to make essential oils change their properties. This is because a chemical process used for extraction does not produce a true essential oil. Pure essential oils are oils which have only distilled from one type of plant.1 Plants use essential oils, sometimes as a defense mechanism. Plants use the essence to control infections, humidity, and hormones. The oils also contribute to wound healing, and they can also attract and repel insects.2
Here is How to Use Essential Oils at Home
Essential oils are a key part of aromatherapy. Oils are rubbed on different parts of the skin, and this is done so that the plant compounds are absorbed through the skin.
The oil might also be inhaled via the mouth or nose, and a diffuser is used to make the inhalation of oils easier. Inhalation of the oil aroma could stimulate parts of the limbic system. The limbic system plays a role in the body’s reaction to smells, behaviors, emotions, and long-term memory; because of this, the limbic system links smells and emotions. The trigger of a distinctive smell reminds people of forgotten memories and emotions.
On occasion, oils are ingested by patient, but some essential oils should not be consumed by mouth because it is not always safe for the patient. Some oils are toxic when consumed orally. Some say that oils have a physical effect on the body. This claim is not verified by studies. Essential oils do affect the patient’s level of relaxation.3
Massage and Aromatherapy Go Hand-In-Hand
Aromatherapy massage is a technique which combines Swedish massage therapy and essential oils. The patient inhales or absorbs the plant essences while receiving their massage. The effects of the massage vary depending on the type of method used.
For example, lavender oil would create a more relaxing atmosphere. Tea tree oil acts more like a decongestant. Rosemary essential oil will leave the patient feeling more energized. One study observed the effects of rose essential oil. Patients who performed self-massage in combination with rose essential oil were able to reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. Aromatherapy may also relieve the symptoms of menopause. The effects of essential oil on cancer patients have been studied. The study was unable to find any clinical benefit to the patients. The essential oils are likely to create a mood-lifting effect. Additionally, massage therapists who use aromatherapy may recommend blends for patients to try at home.4
List of Essential Oils and Their Individual Benefits
Essential oils come in a wide variety, just like the plants that they were distilled from. The oils’ effects on patients are varied and unique; therefore, patients should consult with their healthcare professionals before using them. Generally, essential oil uses include stress relief and mood lifting. The best essential oils are those which come from a reputable source, therefore patients should know that cheaper is not necessarily better.
The patchouli essential oil is associated with hippie culture, and patchouli oil has skincare properties. Peppermint is famous for its energy-boosting properties. Peppermint is a known cooling agent, which provides patients with relief. It can alleviate irritation and redness. Eucalyptus will act as a decongestant, and eucalyptus is also useful for its natural cooling. Patients who have muscle aches and pains might use eucalyptus to relieve their symptoms. Lemon is one of the most popular essential oils, and this is not only because of its clean smell but also because lemon aids digestion. Lavender is a famous stress reliever.5
Safety Precautions When Using Essential Oils
There are risks to using oils. Patients should know these risks. The recommended dosages and methods of application, absorption, or consumption should be taken seriously. In many cases, oils cannot be taken orally. Patients who are sensitive to scents, experience chronic health issues, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and when injuries are present on the skin should consult a doctor before trying aromatherapy.6 Some oils, such as lemon, should not be applied to the skin while the patient is in the sun. This is because it could increase the risk of burns.7
Keep essential oils away from children and pets. Younger patients are more sensitive to the potency of these oils. Oils are safer when used on older children.
Most of the time, do not give pets oils. Some oils can be dangerous to animals. For example, dogs are very sensitive to citrus; it can make them very ill. There are some exceptions to this. Taking cautious measures and moderation when using essential oils is important.8