Introduction to Essential Oils
Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from plants in nature, providing tremendous healing properties to our body and mind. Using essential oils for healing purposes is known as aromatherapy, which is a holistic treatment seeking to improve physical, mental and emotional health. However it is interesting to point out that much of our current medicine is based on the effects of herbs and plants in nature. Therefore Essential Oils are really a different way of receiving those same healing properties, by dramatically simplifying the extraction process of the plants and without the chemical additives. This isn’t to say that there are no side effects or that all the effects would be positive to your body or mind. Our lives are different and are greatly affected by our chemical compositions at this point in time, which could be affected by our different everyday habits, amount and quality of sleep, type of food and drink taken, mood and stress levels.
Many cultures around the world have used the healing properties of essential oils as a remedy for a variety of health conditions, for over thousands of years. Nowadays they are often used in beauty care, home cleaning and relaxation as well as natural medicine.
Aside from filling your home with lovely, natural fragrances, some of the more common essential oils like lavender, tea tree, or lemon oil may help with a number of issues.
- Fight common cold symptoms
- Improve digestion
- Relax your body and especially your muscles
- Act as a painkiller
- Heal skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis, dandruff
- Balance hormones
- Clean your home
Essential Oils’ advantage over modern medicine, is the fact that they target the entire body, encouraging its natural ability to balance, self regulated and heal, rather than only targeting a specific symptom in order to provide a short term relief.
The essential oils used in aromatherapy consist of tiny aromatic molecules that are readily absorbed via different parts of the body, sweat glands and hair follicles on the skin, they also enter through the lungs whilst breathing and through the bloodstream. Essential oils are also powerful antibacterial and anti fungal agents that can help stop the spread of disease.
Essential Oils could be used as an emotional remedy too, helping to lift depression and anxiety, balance emotions and generally encourage a state of harmony between mind and body.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are extracted directly from the bark, fruit, tower, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree, and just one drop could be enough for the effect you’re trying to achieve. They are typically extracted from the plant by distillation, which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming.
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils and have a very strong aroma. Sometimes they are called volatile aromatic oils because of their high concentration of the aromatic compounds.
By concentrating the oils of these plants, you are literally separating the most powerful healing compounds of a plant into a single oil. For instance, in order to get one single 15ml bottle of rose essential oil, it take 65 pounds of rose petals!
These therapeutic oils in plants protect the plant from insects, shield the plant from a harsh environment and help them adapt to their surroundings. By taking essential oils, you are harnessing the protective and beneficial powers of a plant.
Essential oils are composed of very small molecules that can penetrate your cells, and some compounds in essential oils can even cross the blood-brain barrier. They differ from fatty oils (like those in vegetables or nuts) that come from large molecules because they cannot penetrate your cells, so they are not therapeutic in the same manner.
Choosing the best essential oil will depend on the mood you’re trying to create, the health concern or condition that you are trying to remedy. Each essential oil is made up of different compounds and possess different properties, so while some oils are great for relaxing your mind, easing muscle tension and promoting restful sleep, other oils are stimulating, energy boosting and support cognitive function. For example, citrus oils can often boost your energy and alertness, which is something you would probably rather it does not happen just before going to bed. Something as relaxing as Lavender or Chamomile would be a lot more appropriate of a choice. Whatever the reason, try to relax and enjoy it!