What are essential oils and how are they made?
Essential oils are natural compounds extracted from plants. These extracts hold the plants scents, flavors, and healing abilities. Some essential oils capture the plants “essense” in natural ways through distillation (using steam/water.) Others are made mechanically in methods such as cold pressing.
The way the extracts are made is very important. If the oils are made chemically they are not true essential oils. This is important to try and stay away from, as chemically obtained essential oils are not as potent and don’t hold the plants natural healing and aroma properties.
How do essential oils work? What are they good for?
Essential oils have been used for at least 5,000 years to improve peoples health and mood.
They are used in aromatherapy, as they are inhaled and absorbed through many different ways. However, these oils are not meant to be swallowed unless diluted with water or cooked.
The oils can be used to help your body in many ways, when you apply the oils to your skin, the natural plant chemicals can be absorbed. Some believe that different application to the skin can make absorption improved, such as adding heat or putting the oils on specific areas of the body. By applying essential oils to your body, they can actually help treat fungal infections, as they have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Essential oils also smell amazing!
With that being said, another way to use essential oils is inhalation. By inhaling the “aroma” of oils they can help stimulate many parts of your limbic system, (the area of your brain that is involved in our behavioral and emotional responses. As well as your sense of smell, and long term memory.) Ever have a smell take you back to your childhood, or a fond memory, or even trigger emotions? This occurs because limbic system is very involved in forming memories. Which can partially explain this odd occurrence.
The limbic system also controls a lot of unconscious functions, like heart rate, breathing, and even blood pressure. This is why essential oils can play such a huge part in helping heal the body, as well as mental health, memory, and emotion.
To summarize, these beautiful plant extracts can be inhaled and/or applied to the skin. They can stimulate many parts of the limbic system, triggering your smell, memories, emotions, and even having some health benefits like improved breathing and blood pressure. Depending on the essential oils you are using, the healing properties vary.
Ways to use essential oils, and properties of different oils.
How to use essential oils.
Diffusers- diffusers are an amazing way to get your whole room smelling like rose or lavender. Being around the oils all the time can help you and your room absorb the properties of the oils.
Linen spray- spraying some oils on your pillow before you go to bed can help you get to sleep fast, and can promote vivid and even lucid dreams.
Lava stone and clay pendants- you can just put some drops of oil on your lava stone or clay pendant and it will absorb the oils and hold them for up to 14 hours.
Eating- just put a few drops of oils in your food and it will add some flavor and a little extra healing.
Drinking- put some rose oils in your water. It will add some flavor and some love!
Different oils and their properties.
Lemon- Energizing and purifying, promotes appetite
Lavender- Calming and relaxing, decreasing general discomfort. Helps with sleep
Peppermint- Decreases motion sickness and nausea. Balancing and energizing. Relieves tension and eases pain. Decreases mental fatigue and congestion.
Eucalyptus- Relieves cold and flu symptoms. Also can be used as an anti-inflammatory.
Cedarwood- Can be used as acne treatment. Relieves pain, stress, and anxiety. Promotes sleep and hair growth.
Rosemary- Eases stress. Improves brain function and circulation.
Rose- Fights anxiety and relaxes the mind and body. Helps with muscle spasms and reduces inflammation