Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that contain a variety of healing properties. They’re also powerful natural cleaning ingredients that can replace toxic chemicals in your home.
It’s important to note that since they are unregulated by the FDA, it is vital that you follow the directions on the bottle and do a skin patch test prior to using them.
A skillful application of essential oils can enhance a massage, acupuncture or other bodywork session. These highly concentrated hydrophobic liquids contain volatile chemical compounds that give plants their distinctive fragrance. When used correctly, they may offer a number of possible health benefits, including relieving abdominal pain, easing headaches and soothing skin conditions.
Aromatherapy uses a blend of essential oil and carrier oil (such as almond, coconut or sesame) to dilute the oils before applying them to the skin. Its therapeutic properties include relaxing the mind and body, stimulating the nervous system and improving circulation.
Because of their strength, essential oils must be diluted before they can be applied to the skin, and they shouldn’t be taken internally unless under the guidance of a trained professional. Some can cause a rash or even cause internal organ damage, especially when taken in large amounts and in the wrong way. It’s important to research your chosen oils, consult a certified aromatherapist and avoid those that are known to be toxic, irritate the skin or harm a fetus.
Digestion is an important part of our body’s ability to cleanse ourselves and deliver the nutrients we need. Essential oils can help with digestive issues like gas, bloating, heartburn and constipation.
Digestive blends are oil combinations that are formulated to aid digestion, soothe stomach discomfort and maintain overall digestive health. They usually contain a combination of essential oils known for their digestive health benefits such as ginger, peppermint, fennel and chamomile.
The scented oils can be applied topically, inhaled or ingested. There’s some evidence that peppermint oil helps relieve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, for example, and lemon oil may boost your mood and improve digestion. It’s important to use high-quality products, since not all essential oils are created equal. There’s no government grading system, and some companies make claims that aren’t supported by science.
Before applying essential oils to your skin, dilute them with a carrier oil such as coconut, jojoba or almond oil. Pure essential oils are too strong to put directly on your skin, and they can cause a rash or other reaction.
Certain oils, such as those from citrus plants, are photosensitive, meaning they can react with sunlight and produce a rash or other reaction. Be sure to wait at least 12 hours before exposing your skin to the sun after using these kinds of oils. Other reactions to these oils can include headache, nausea, liver and kidney damage and harm to a fetus.
Sleep is a vital part of our overall health, but sometimes anxiety, stress or lack of energy can keep us awake. Essential oils can help promote a restful night of sleep and can calm the nervous system.
Lavender and bergamot are rich in the relaxing compounds linalool and linalyl acetate, which can help reduce insomnia and promote relaxation. They can be inhaled via an aroma diffuser or added to a glass of warm water or herbal tea right before bed.
When a person inhales the scent of an essential oil, the molecules attach to the olfactory bulb in the nose and transmit signals to parts of the brain that control emotion and behavior. These brain regions then trigger the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which promotes feelings of euphoria or melatonin, which has a sedative effect. NIH research suggests that sandalwood has a similar sleep-promoting effect and that the floral fragrance of jasmine promotes calmness.