What Are Essential Oils?
You have heard the hype and you have seen the little brown bottles in stores so often. Even your friends, old college roommates and graduating class from high school seem to know all about these essential oils. This has all finally led you to google the mystery behind essential oils. Well let us tell you, you are in for a treat. These oils have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, relaxation treatments, beauty products, and religious ceremonies.Here are a few of the basic facts that everyone getting into essential oils should know. Pure essential oils are highly concentrated extracts from plants. They are typically sold in small dark-colored bottles to prevent oxidation. Most essential oils you can buy are colorless liquid when stored at room temperature, and unlike oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, essential oils don’t feel greasy or oily. They can, however, evaporate very quickly and behave almost like an alcohol. If you add essential oils to a carrier oil, such as olive oil, they’ll mix together very well and can be safely applied topically. This is one of the most common types of practices in the essential oil world.
Essential oils have been used since the dawn of time for a variety of different purposes. People have been using plants for medicinal reasons for a really long time. In fact, there are cave paintings in France which depict people using plants for medicinal purposes around 20,000 years ago. And since then, it has been used in all different eras.
The Egyptians and Indians have used aromatic oils from religious ceremonies to healing illnesses, and anything in between. Especially in ancient Egypt, notorious Egyptians like Cleopatra would have essential oils infused into her makeup, baths, and even into her perfumes.
One old urban legend even states that during the time of the 15th-century bubonic plague, thieves stealing from the dead would inhale a blend of essential oils to help prevent them from getting ill.
This was actually proven to have some truth to it when a 1997 study showed that certain blends of essential oils likely to be similar to the ones used by the thieves were very effective at killing airborne bacteria. In today’s age, we also see them used for making perfumes, air fresheners, natural cleaning products, and scented candles, etc.
Since essential oils have been a natural method of healing and have been used in aromatherapy for centuries, it is no wonder they are currently making headlines. Especially with the recent surge of chemical awareness, we see a much higher interest in more alternative methods from cleaning the house and taking care of oneself.
Luckily, when using essential oils properly we find there is very little downside and they are many times a healthy alternative to many common items, especially around the home. Since essential oils are highly concentrated extracts of plants, they contain complex mixes of different chemical compounds. So for example when you read on the health benefits of an essential oil like lavender or eucalyptus, there is actually one or more chemical compound within them that has been shown to help with certain conditions or bacterias.
How do I get started with essential oils?
When you are considering using essential oils, if you find yourself looking for natural scents with the addition of possible health effects, then essential oils are right for you. Start with these 5 basic essential oils and see what they can offer you:
Containing a fresh floral scent with a dash of sweetness and herby aroma, lavender is actually the most versatile of all essential oils. With therapeutic and medicinal properties, lavender should always be your go to. Not to mention, this scent does great for a good yoga routine.
Peppermint oil has a very stimulating yet soothing menthol aroma. From waking you up to relieving headaches, a little bit of peppermint essential oil on your temples can go a long way. Make sure to dilute your peppermint oil.
This essential oil has a very fresh and clean aroma that helps awaken you and opens your airways. The components of eucalyptus oil have been known to work especially well when you take a little drop in a hot bath.
With a clean, uplifting and fresh scent, lemon essential oil can help get rid of bad vibes and increase concentration and mental awareness. It is such a versatile essential oil, it can be used as food-grade, therapeutic, or within cleaning products.
Tea tree has been around as a form of alternative medicine for ages. Because it is a terpinen, it can soothe minor scapes without irritation. Also, this is an amazing compound you can add to your shampoo for a daily hair softening routine.
Are Essential Oils Safe to Use?
Yes, if you use them correctly. You will always want to do your research and speak to your physician. However, more often than not if you start slow and are careful, yes they are safe to use. Generally, you want to dilute essential oils because they are highly concentrated. Easy ways to dilute them is with a carrier oil. The use of carrier oils such as canola oil, vegetable oil or coconut oil makes for a safe way to use essential oils.
When it comes to the ingestion of essential oils, it’s generally suggested that you should only do so under the guidance of a licensed and very reputable aromatherapist. As well make sure with your doctor that none of the medicine you are currently taking interacts poorly with the essential oils you plan on taking.
Always do a patch test before using essential oils because occasionally, some people have adverse skin reactions to essential oils. And keep in mind that certain citrus essential oils are sensitive to the sun, so you should not expose your skin in direct sunlight after applying those oils to your skin.
So, treat essential oils like any other cosmetic, medicine, or chemical. Do what it takes to research and learn how to use them safely, do not ingest them without speaking to a professional, and keep out of reach of children and animals.
There are ways to use essential oils for your children and pets, take a look at some of our other articles that talk about proper dilution and which essential oils are safe to use.