Essential oils are a very popular and natural way of treating various conditions, ailments, and issues within the skin, body, and mind. Often referred to as aromatherapy due to the wonderful aromas, each oil has different uses and effects. The use of these oils is widespread, and we can find them in skincare products, air fresheners, shower gels, and even in washing powder!
Essential oils are the pure oils extracted from the leaves and flowers of plants, the leaves and flowers of herbs, the peel of fruits, and even the bark and roots of trees.
The molecules in these oils are so fine that they are able to penetrate through the layers of the skin when applied topically, and they can be absorbed through the membranes in the nose when inhaled.
The molecules then reach the bloodstream and travel around the body to have the desired effect on the different areas of the body where needed.
Each of these oil hasve different properties or therapeutic actions, which gives them their ‘special powers’ to have an effect within the skin or the body, or on the mind.
Some of the therapeutic actions or properties that essential oils have are;
- Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation/sensitivity in the skin or body
- Bactericidal – this kills and prevent bacteria
- Calming – has an overall calming and soothing effect on the body and mind
- Cytophylactic – regenerates cells
- Depurative – removes impurities and toxins
- Expectorant – helps ease and remove mucus from the lungs and respiratory system
- Sudorific – increases perspiration
- Uplifting – helps positive thinking and lifts the emotions
- Febrifuge – reduces fever
- Sedative – calms the nervous system
- Tonic – invigorates and gives strength
So, you can see that there is so much more to the use of essential oils than just relaxation!
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Here are some of the many uses of essential oils and the benefits they can have.
1. Using essential oils for skin conditions:
The skin will benefit from the use of essential oils as they can penetrate deeper into the skin than most other skincare products. This is really useful to encourage blood circulation to feed the skin cells, aid cell regeneration, and to deep cleanse and purify the pores. All this means that different types and skin conditions will be treated more effectively and improve any conditions.
Jasmine & Neroli oils are very beneficial for dry, mature skin, Ylang Ylang & Petitgrain are good for oily skin, while Chamomile & Rose are soothing for sensitive skin. (Rose, Jasmine & Chamomile should not be used during pregnancy)
2. Use for the nervous system:
Most people will use essential oils for relaxation and if essential oils have the therapeutic actions of relaxing, calming, and sedating, they will relax the body and mind. They do this by working on the symptoms of stress, anxiety, worry, etc. For example, the essential oils may relax and soothe tense muscles, reduce a rapid heart rate, or slow the breathing rate, all of which will make a person feel calmer and more relaxed.
Essential oils that are uplifting will lift the emotions, so are very good at treating symptoms of depression or lethargy.
Lavender and Chamomile are good examples of relaxing and calming oils, while citrus oils, such as Orange and Grapefruit, are uplifting. (Chamomile should not be used during pregnancy, and direct sunlight should be avoided if Grapefruit or Orange are applied to the skin)
3. Essential oils for illness:
When essential oils are inhaled, they can help some conditions of the respiratory system, such as colds, flu, and sinus congestion. The molecules penetrate the membranes of the nose and enter the structures of the respiratory system.
Here, essential oils that are expectorants, such as Sandalwood and Pine, may have the effect of helping to fluidify the mucus of the lungs, thus relieving phlegm or chesty coughs. Anti-inflammatory oils – Bergamot or Geranium – reduce inflammation, so useful for easing sinus congestion and pain. Febrifuge oils, like Peppermint, can help to reduce a fever, and Immuno-stimulant oils, such as Thyme and Tea Tree, will help to strengthen the immune system, to prevent and protect against illness.
For headaches, toothache, or muscle sprains and strains, an analgesic oil will be useful. Lavender and Juniper are analgesic oils, among many others.
How to use these oils?
Essential oils can be used in different ways to have beneficial effects. One of the most popular ways to use essential oils is to use a burner. This allows the fragrance of the oils to fill a room, and the aromas can be inhaled.
- Two drops of essential oil per 5 ml of carrier oil.
- As these oils are chemicals, any essential oil blends must be stored in tinted containers – usually amber or blue. This ensures that the composition of the oil cannot be changed by sunlight or heat.
Applying essential oils is another way of benefitting from the oil’s powerful properties. With the exception of Tea Tree oil, these oils should never be applied neat on the skin. They should always be blended with a carrier oil, such as Sweet Almond oil or Avocado oil.
Please note that while the use of essential oils in small quantities is generally safe, if ever if any doubt of the use of the oils, please contact a professional practitioner.