Essential oils have been employed for thousands of years for therapeutic uses. They are derived from the essences that naturally occur in fragrant plants and play a pivotal role in nature as they
help aromatic plants (flowers, berries, herbs, spices and grass) flourish, and are what give these plants their fragrance or "essence". The use of essential oils in a range of traditional, alternative or complementary therapies is referred to as Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy applications include inhalation, massage, and topical applications.
How Do they Work?
Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, which is the part of the brain that is connected to smell, (including the nose and the brain). When the inhaled molecules enter the nose or mouth, they go on to pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body. As the molecules reach the brain, they stimulate the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that is linked to the emotions, behaviors, sense of smell, and long-term memory (as well as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, stress, and hormone balance). In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the body, and it is believed to have physical affect on the body.
When applied topically, the oils are absorbed into the skin, and when massaged in, the massage will boost circulation, thereby increasing absorption.
What are the Benefits?
Essential oils have been found to have various degrees of anti-microbial activity and are believed to have antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal, pain-relieving and antioxidant properties. They've also been shown to reduce anxiety, stress, improve mood,boost immune system function, relieve respiratory issues, assist with treating skin conditions like acne, eczema and some types of psoriasis and the list goes on and on!
How to Buy Essential Oils
Not all essential oils are created equally, and they vary in quality from brand to brand, so it's really up to the consumer to choose them wisely. The most reputable suppliers analyze their products using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
When searching for them, look for oils that are packaged in dark amber or cobalt blue glass bottles labeled with the Latin name of the plant (for example, "Mentha Piperita" which is the latin name for peppermint, and "Melaleuca alternifolia" which is tea tree oil). Never buy essential oil products packaged in plastic bottles, as the oils can dissolve plastic and become contaminated with it.
A diffuser a device which breaks down essential oils into smaller molecules and disperses them in the air. Opt for using undiluted oils when deciding on which oil to use in a diffuser. These are typically sold in bottles that are 15ml (0.5 fl oz) or smaller. For topical application over large areas of skin, such as massages, go with diluted oils.
Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent spoiling or degrading. With proper storage and handling, they have a shelf life of about a year.
If you need help deciding if essential oil is right for you, what you need and/or how to find a reputable source, schedule a Wellness Consultation with me so we can discuss your options.
***Please note that essential oils should never be applied without being combined with a carrier oil (Jojoba oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil and are some of the more common ones) to prevent injury to the skin. A carrier oil not only protects your skin from the concentrated potency of the essential oil, but it also allows you to be able to spread and apply the oil to larger surfaces of the body without having to use excessive amounts of it. Only a few drops of the oil, (it varies based upon what it is being used for and what essential oils is being used) is needed to produce the desired effect. You must be very careful with using essential oil in order to prevent misuse and injury. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should not use essential oils.