Essential oils can make a positive impact on your health and well-being as long as you use them in a safe way.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are basically plant extracts. They're made by steaming or pressing various parts of a plant (flowers, bark, leaves or fruit) to capture the compounds that produce fragrance. It can take several pounds of a plant to produce a single bottle of essential oil. In addition to creating scent, essential oils perform other functions in plants, too.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and especially impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.
Essential oils can also be absorbed by the skin. A massage therapist might add a drop or two of wintergreen to oil to help relax tight muscles during a rubdown. A skincare company may add lavender to bath salts to create a soothing soak.
What Are Essential Oils Good For?
Although people claim essential oils are natural remedies for a number of ailments, there's not enough research to determine their effectiveness in human health. Results of lab studies are promising — one at Johns Hopkins found that certain essential oils could kill a type of Lyme bacteria better than antibiotics — but results in human clinical trials are mixed.
Some studies indicate that there's a benefit to using essential oils while others show no improvement in symptoms. Clinical trials have looked at whether essential oils can alleviate conditions such as:
How Can You Use Essential Oils Safely?
The quality of essential oils on the market varies greatly, from pure essential oils to those diluted with less expensive ingredients. And because there's no regulation, the label may not even list everything that's in the bottle you're buying. That's why essential oils should not be ingested.
Johns Hopkins also advises against using essential oil diffusers, small household appliances that create scented vapor. Diffusion in a public area or household with multiple members can affect people differently. For example, peppermint is often recommended for headaches. But if you use it around a child who's less than 30 months old, the child can become agitated. It could have a negative effect. Additionally, someone with fast heartbeat can react adversely to peppermint.
The safest ways to use essential oils include:
Aromatherapy accessories: Necklaces, bracelets and keychains made with absorbent materials you apply essential oils to and sniff throughout the day.
Body oil: A mixture of essential oils with a carrier oil such as olive, jojoba or coconut oil that can be massaged into skin. Because essential oils are concentrated, they can cause irritation. Avoid using them full-strength on skin.
Roller Bottle: This glass bottle is filled with rose quartz gemstone chips and has a matching roller ball. Fill it with a favourite essential oil or blend for on-the-go application. Whatever oil you chose to fill it with, it is a leak-free and easy-to-use roller, allowing you to take your favorite scent on the go. Match your essential oil to the unique metaphysical properties of the gemstone roller to amplify the benefits.