So you know artificial fragrances are bad for you and there is all this hype around essential oils, but where do they come from, why are they better, and what scents should you start with?
Use this guide to help you answer the where, why, and what’s of essential oils.
Where do Essential Oils Come From?
Essential oils are extracted from a plant, like lavender, through a steam distillation process.
- Fresh plants are picked.
- Fresh plants get held over boiling water which extracts the oil out.
- Steam is captured, cooled and condenses into water.
- The oil and water naturally separate and the oils are collected.
These oils get their name, not because they are essential to your health (although some could successfully argue they are), but because they are the concentrated essence of the plant.
Why are Essential Oils Good for You?
Essential oils can be consumed not just by smell, they can be used topically, in bath water, as aromatherapy, and even ingested.
While research is still being done, there is a link between the smells and your mood and behavior. Some essential oils report killing common strains of fungi, bacteria, suppressing cough reflexes, and some can be used as a numbing agent or to soothe aching muscles.
Understanding the effects of essential oils comes down to understanding what the plant in which the oil stems from, can give you.
- Peppermint contains menthol, which stimulates cold sensitive nerve receptors to give a cooling feeling (like a mild version of Icy Hot)
- Clove contains a numbing agent that inhibits neural response similar to a local anesthetic
- Ginger contains the compound gingerols and shogaols which can relieve gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, and constipation.
- Eucalyptus contains a variety of components, the most notable being a decongestant often used in chest rubs for colds
Essential oils are appealing for those looking for all-natural, holistic ways to treat common ailments.
What Essential Oils Should You Start With?
When there are hundreds of oils to use, it can be daunting to pick only a couple. The most popular way to use essential oils is with a diffuser. You have probably seen these used, even if you didn’t realize what it was. A diffuser takes a combination of water and a few drops of essential oils, vaporizes it, and disperses the fragrance throughout your room and home. Through the diffusion process, the oils break down into micro molecules, which get inhaled and worked into the bloodstream. At this point, your body will start to feel the effects of the essential oil.
If you had a head cold or were congested from allergies, and you added eucalyptus to the diffuser, you would start to feel relief in your sinuses as the eucalyptus worked itself into your body.
10 Most Common Essential Oils
Choosing with essential oils to use comes down to what benefit you are looking for. To help get you started here is a list of the ten most common essential oils.
Used to treat:
- Sore throat
- Boost immune system
- Promote healthy digestion
- Aids nutrient absorption
- Helps regulate estrogen and regulating menstruation
- Relieve gastrointestinal pain and irregularities
- Stimulate appetite
- Relieve headaches
- Ease muscle pain
- Relieve tension
- Enhance blood circulation
- Improve sleep
- Reduce fever and headaches
- boost energy
- Boost mood and work as an antidepressant
- Act as anti-inflammatory
- Reduces gas formation in intestinal tract
- Eases abdominal muscles
- Relieve fatigue
- Aid digestion
- Soothe stomachs
- Clear respiratory tract
- Improve focus
- Fight depression
- Aid in liver health
- Ease menstruation
- Relieve anxiety
- Relieve stomach cramps and bloating
- Stimulate healthy hair growth
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Improve memory
- Repel insects
- Control underarm odor
- Reduce inflammation
- Trigger white blood cells
- Fight acne