“Essential” oil is not the same as “essential” fatty acids or “essential” amino acids that are “essential” for living organisms to survive. “Essential” used here does not mean something is vital, crucial, necessary, or required. The word “essential” has been used by aroma therapists for many years. “Essential oil” is a contradiction from the Aristotelian theory, meaning “quintessential oil” derived from natural science being of matter from the Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 BC).
Essential oils are usually extracted by steam using a distillation process from nature’s plant kingdom. Other methods are used as well such as solvent extraction. These oils are used in cosmetics, soap, perfume, and other products. They are also used in food—oil of cloves is used to make watermelon rind pickles. Oil of lavender is used in soaps. Other oils are used in drinks and food. Some oils add scents to household products used for cleaning. Now that we understand the meaning of “essential oils” used in aromatherapy, please read the articles that follow here.
When you want to use an essential oil, it depends on what you want to achieve: do you want a fragrance to uplift your mood? Do you want to use it medicinally to have a therapeutic effect? Maybe the oils help your sinus condition. Maybe the slight humidity released helps your dry skin look less dry and soft. We have taken the “research” out of your research and have done all of the work for you right here.
Yes, aromatherapy can be effective in what “ails you,” or a pleasing fragrance that sooths your mind, body, and soul. Essential oils are effective or millions of people would not be buying them these days.
What are Essential Oils?
Plants have oils, but how do you get them out, you wonder. How do we get corn oil from corn, fish oil from fish, flax oil from beautiful blue flax flowers that grow wild everywhere? How is beer made? For beer, a grain, usually corn, hops, water, and sugar is distilled until what you drink makes you pleasantly intoxicated or obnoxiously drunk. Enough of 7th grade science.
Essential oils are the concentrated chemicals found in plants. They have been used for thousands of years by the cultures of Asia, Egypt, and India, to name only a few. The Native Americans used roots, herbs, and plants in their medicine. You are using the essence of Mother Nature’s plant world with essential oils. Considered the life-giver in just about every culture, water is included in all manner of spiritual and religious ceremonies to cleanse the skin and replenish the mind. Get your body systems flowing and working in harmony, and your body will work more efficiently afterwards.
Benefits of Using Essential Oils
Organic essential oils are used for a plethora of human conditions:
- Stress Relieve
- Arthritis/Joint Pain
- Immune System Diseases
- Sports Injuries
- Respiratory Disease
- Skin Care
- Weight Loss
- Insect Repellent
Yes, essential oils are used as anti-microbial, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory therapies. These plants waving in the sunshine attract bees and butterflies with their fragrance, causing them to pollinate plants without their knowledge. Some plants are sticky to detract predators, and some have needles to keep everything away. The pulp from the succulent Aloe Vera plant heals wounds and cuts. It has been used in herbal medicine since the first century AD. These can be grown in your sunny windowsill without the need to travel to the southwest desert to cut off a fat leaf. On the other hand, you can purchase the essential oil distilled from the plant. We drink chamomile tea for getting to sleep due to its calming effects. We take baths in salts with essential components for therapeutic results. We drink ginger tea to calm our stomachs, and we love the taste of spearmint, peppermint, and wintergreen from the mint family of medicinal herbs.
Essential oils are very versatile and add a wide variety of benefits to homemade skin and hair-care products. They offer potent protection against a range of common ailments and help improve skin and hair health. Their small molecular size means that they can penetrate deep in the dermis (skin) to provide a profound healing effect. Their wonderful scents also help balance emotions.
Depending on the essential oil you select, you can add antiseptic, rejuvenating, tonic, or relaxing properties to a cleaner, moisturizer, ointment or body splash. Different oils can help prevent or clear skin problems; stimulate the generation of new cells; improve muscle tone; stimulate circulation of blood and lymph; eliminate waste; counter inflammation; balance sebum (oil) production; and reduce stress.
Methods for Using Essential Oils
Some essential oils are concentrated. They might need to be diluted and they might not. Read the instructions that come with them or ask your pharmacist. You can put Aloe Vera directly on your skin. A potato slice can be put directly on the skin for bruises—so can cucumber slices. Essential oils can be used aromatically, topically (on the skin), some can be ingested (internally), and some are used as household products (externally).
Essential oils used in diffusers are very prevalent in today’s society. Nothing is new under the sun. Aromatics have been used for thousands of years. Maybe only the method for using has changed.
Certain fragrances remind us of days past—maybe we smelled lily of the valley flowers or a rose that reminded us of grandma. We can still experience those fragrances today with aromatherapy. The system, in simple terms, is the nose. Memories are made in the brain from things we have smelled.
Aromatherapy can help open the sinus cavities. Oil of cloves will help a slight tooth ache go away in the full strength form. Essential oils can relive tension and improve air quality in the home or office. The immune system can be improved with specific oils. They uplift our mood when we feel down. Some ways are addressed to use essential oils aromatically.
- Choose a good diffuser to cool the room temperature to purify the air
- Inhale it directly by holding the bottle a few inches below your nose or
- Put a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale it that way
- Make a steam tent by putting a few drops of oil into boiling water, put your head close to the stream without burning yourself, with a towel on top of your head (tent) to keep the steam in
Aromatics smell good, are safe to use, and many are in perfumes and body soaps.
If you have not done a skin test for sensitivity with your dermatologist or allergist, be cautious. These oils are potent and are probably sensitive to the sun (photoallergic, photosensitivity) where the compounds can be exaggerated with the sun’s UV rays. Dilute the oil to try it, but stay indoors. You can attempt a patch test with a diluted solution, but it’s best if done by a physician mentioned above.
Footbaths and tub baths are wonderful with Epsom salts; it is beneficial as well. Enjoy a massage with diluted essential oils mixed with mineral oil. You can also try hot or cold compresses by putting diluted oils in a basin of water and applying with a washcloth rung out.
Be sure to use only food type oils for consuming. You can use oregano in leaf or ground form in Italian dishes. The oil would need to be diluted greatly. Adding a drop of one of the mints with or without lemon in a glass of cold water or a cup of hot water to be a tea has benefits. Do not use in your rectum or vagina. These areas must be evaluated by your professional healthcare provider. You can burn yourself, cause blisters, rashes, and bleeding—then you will need to see your doctor.
Add some great smelling oils to your clothes washer rinse cycle. Add it to a cup of water before pouring in directly on your clothes. After washing dishes, add essential oils to the clean sink to disinfect and leave a great fragrance afterwards. Lemon oil makes a great furniture polish and removes stains. Use a half cup of apple cider vinegar to a quart of water for your hair rather than conditioner to remove all soap film and give it a glistening shine. Do not rinse it out—the smell will go away in a few minutes. Most essential oils are antiviral or antifungal. Do not add to household paint—it will affect the paint chemical components and might not stick to surfaces.
Our discussion has been an overview for using essential oils. Use them wisely and keep your safety in mind for strong oils, especially on your skin. Good judgment is the best way to go. When you use a great diffuser with essential aromatic oils, you will be pleasantly delighted with the outcome.
>> READ MORE: Ultimate Guide to Essential Oils