Essential Oils – How They Can Enhance Your Health and Well-Being

Essential oils are fragrant liquid plant extracts that can be used in a variety of ways. They can be applied directly to the skin or inhaled.

Some studies show that certain oil scents can help with particular health conditions, including calming anxiety or easing pain. But it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying anything new, especially any kind of supplement or therapy.

Health Benefits

The scent molecules from essential oils enter the bloodstream and diffuse throughout the body to enhance different aspects of your health. They can be inhaled, applied to the skin or ingested. “Essential oils can be useful in treating conditions such as stress and anxiety, insomnia, nausea and pain,” Davila says.

Essential oils can be a useful addition to your healthy lifestyle, but there’s not enough evidence yet to support many of the claims made about them. In general, they should never be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil, and most oils are not safe for ingestion unless diluted.

Choose a trustworthy essential oil company that is transparent about its product. Look for a web page, booklet or other materials listing the plant from which each oil was derived and providing other details. And watch for signs that an oil has been overexposed to oxygen, such as changes in color or a loss of fragrance.

How to Use

With proper care and guidelines, you can use essential oils safely at home. But, like any powerful ingredient, they can cause side effects when used at the wrong concentration or in the wrong way.

When applied topically, undiluted essential oils can irritate sensitive skin. Always follow recommended dilution ratios and test for sensitivity.

Essential oil scents can also be inhaled, stimulating olfactory nerves that connect to brain centers responsible for emotions and memory. These aromas can invigorate when you need a boost or calm your mind before bedtime.

If you’re new to essential oils, seek out a trained aromatherapist, nurse, doctor, physical therapist or massage therapist to guide your usage and application methods. These professionals will not only teach you safe and appropriate applications, but they can recommend specific oils that align with your health goals. They can also provide guidance on the best ways to store your oils for optimal freshness. Oils can oxidize quickly, breaking down their therapeutic properties.


Despite their natural origins, essential oils are highly concentrated and can have serious health consequences if used at the wrong dose or in the wrong application. For example, using a drop of an oil that has been heat-treated (such as in a diluted massage oil or in a scented candle) can cause oxidation, which changes the chemical makeup and reduces its therapeutic properties.

It’s also important to use caution with infants and children, who have thinner skin and less developed livers and immune systems, per the University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing. Never apply undiluted oils to their skin, and keep all essential oil bottles out of their reach.

Look for a company with an established name that uses only pure, therapeutic-grade oils. They should list the botanical name of each oil and provide web pages, booklets and other information to help educate consumers about its use. Quality oil companies should also be honest about their sourcing and extraction practices, as they should not add synthetic chemicals or other, similar-smelling, plant oils to their products.


Essential oils can be a great addition to your kitchen, elevating recipes with unique flavors and health benefits. They are also much more concentrated than herbs or spices, meaning you can use just a few drops to replace a whole herb or spice.

Be sure to only use food-grade essential oils for cooking. These are the ones that have a “supplemental fact box” on their label, which is similar to the nutrition facts you see on food. These oils have been deemed safe to ingest, and can be used for flavoring food.

For the best results, it is important to dilute your essential oils before adding them to a recipe. Adding the oil to a lipid such as olive or coconut first, helps ensure that it is properly dispersed throughout the dish. Additionally, it is recommended to wait until the end of a hot recipe to add the oil, as these volatile oils will evaporate quickly in high heat.