What’s all the hype about Essential Oils?

Seems like everywhere you turn these days, there’s someone talking about essential oils! What’s the deal with that? What are they? What do they do? What do you do with them? Well, I’m here to tell you!

First of all, What are Essential Oils?

They are volatile aromatic compounds distilled from certain parts of certain plants–leaves, stems, roots, seeds, bark, flowers, and fruit. They are the substances that give plants their distinctive smells. But they don’t just smell good! They actually have properties that are good for the plant, and good for you!

What do they do?

Essential oils are the healing compounds of the plant world. Animals and humans can harness those healing properties for our own benefit as well. The molecules that comprise essential oils are very small, lipid (oil) soluble compounds. Because of the small size and oil solubility, they can readily penetrate skin and cell membranes. Essential oils have many regenerating, protective, and immune-strengthening properties. They are anti-axidant, and have constituents that have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, and anti-septic properties. Many of these properties have been shown in scientific studies. In addition, the aromatic qualities of  essential oils are known to be powerful activators of the limbic system of the brain which plays key roles in storing and processing emotions.

What do you do with them?

There are three main ways that essential oils are used:

  1. Aromatically–Inhaling  the oil or the aroma from the oil. Essential oils may be inhaled directly from a bottle or vial, placed on the hands and inhaled, or from a cloth, tissue, or cotton ball. Often a diffuser is used to create a fine mist of essential oil into the air for inhalation.
  2. Topically–Placing the essential oils directly on the skin, hair, nails, or mucus membranes. Some oils are safe to apply without dilution, but due to their potency and the nature of some oils to irritate the skin, essential oils are often diluted with a “carrier oil” such as fractionated coconut oil. Essential oils are sometimes also diluted in water or other substances.
  3. Internally–Ingesting or internalizing essential oils into the body. This is the most controversial method of using essential oils. Not all essential oils are safe for internal consumption.  The essential oils from certain plants, for instance, many of the tree oils such as birch, cedarwood, cypress, Douglas fir, and eucalyptus, are not recommended for internal use. In addition, many essential oils on the market to day are contaminated with harmful chemicals. Only pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used in this way, and a reliable reference source should be consulted as to the advisability of a particular essential oil for internal use.

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