Essential oils can benefit the skin in a variety of ways. Some soothe irritated skin, like tea tree oil, while others control sebum production to treat acne.
When inhaled, their scent molecules travel from the olfactory nerves to the limbic system of the brain. These chemicals can influence mood and emotion.
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that can be used in many ways: inhaled directly from the bottle, added to a carrier oil for direct skin application, added to soap and body wash, or added to food. Because they are so potent, you should always dilute with a carrier oil before applying to the skin.
When inhaled, the scents of essential oils stimulate smell receptors in your nose, which send signals to the limbic system of the brain. This part of the brain controls emotions, memories and responses to stress.
Aromatherapy can also help to activate the parasympathetic nervous response, which is the opposite of the body’s “fight-or-flight” stress response. This can help lower blood pressure, relax the muscles and nerves, and improve mood. Earthy oils, such as vetiver, are often used to help with this, as it is known for its calming and restorative properties. These effects can be enhanced when paired with meditation or other relaxing practices.
Oils can be applied directly to the skin or hair. This method is used for both cosmetic and therapeutic purposes.
Generally, essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil, such as jojoba or coconut, before applying to the skin. This helps prevent a possible allergic reaction, which can occur if the oil is too strong for your skin type.
Some of these oils act as mild diuretics, increasing urine production and improving detoxification. They also help to stimulate your glands, improving digestion and reducing toxins that build up in the body.
Using these oils on your skin can help to relieve aches and pains, such as a sore neck. One study found that marjoram, black pepper and lavender oils were helpful in easing muscle tension. Before trying a new oil, it is recommended to do a patch test by putting a few drops on the inside of your wrist and wait for an hour to see how your body reacts.
Oil diffusers take a few drops of essential oils and disperse them throughout a room. They can help with calming, energising and creating a positive atmosphere.
For example, lavender oil calms a busy mind and aids in restful sleep. Tea tree oil is effective against bacteria that causes acne and soothes skin. And peppermint oil reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
You can choose to use an individual oil or create a blend for specific goals. Combine energising notes like bergamot and cardamom or relaxing oils like chamomile, frankincense and mandarin.
It’s important to pick oils that have been distilled using clean methods. It’s also a good idea to check for allergies before using any essential oils, particularly if you’re allergic to similar plants. For example, if you’re allergic to ragweed or daisies, you may be sensitive to chamomile. If you notice a reaction, stop using the oil immediately.
While some people might be wary of ingesting essential oils, when they are properly diluted and used in the kitchen, they can be very useful. They can be added to savory dishes and beverages as well as sweet recipes.
Cooking with essential oils saves time and effort since they can be substituted for dried herbs and spices, citrus zests and juices and other liquid flavorings. They also offer more versatility than other flavorings.
Since essential oil potency varies, it is important to use them sparingly. It is generally recommended to add them toward the end of cooking, and they may evaporate if exposed to heat too long. In addition, certain essential oils are toxic when ingested and should be avoided such as clove, fennel, rosemary, peppermint, and sage. However, most of the major oil companies have high ethical standards that ensure their products are safe for dietary consumption. Their farming and harvesting methods are also sustainable.