ESSENTIAL OILS: WHY ARE THEY THE RAGE
The use of essential oil for health and wellness has been around for centuries. Historians believe that the earliest known use of essential oil dates back to ancient Egypt, though this age-old healing practice can be found throughout history in cultures all over the world. Today, in a world with a growing demand for organic and natural products, it’s no wonder that these oils have recently been exploding in popularity. You can now find everything from infused shampoos to household cleaners at your local grocery store; quality sources of these potent extracts are easier to find than ever.
Known Health Benefits of Essential Oils
Holistic healthcare practitioners, massage therapists, and other health and beauty professionals agree that essential oils are generally more potent and powerful than dried herbs. These oils have applications for everything from treating common skin conditions to cleaning your bathtub.
Both scientific research and anecdotal evidence suggest that essential oils have numerous beneficial properties, including:
Available studies have also purported that some essential plant oils offer medicinal benefits, acting as a natural antidepressant, stimulant, and diuretic. Of course, it's always important to talk to your doctor before using a supplement (even a natural one). Still, the healing effects of these oils can be extraordinarily helpful to many people struggling with chronic physical and mental health problems.
How Are Essential Oils Concentrated and Collected?
While the essential oil of a plant is derived in several different ways, these two ways are the most common:
The plant material is placed in a specialized container and exposed to high pressure and hot steam, which cause the oil to evaporate and then condense back into liquid form in a collecting vessel. Distillation is the most common type of extraction for oils such as lavender, patchouli, peppermint, tea tree, and eucalyptus.
Raw plant material is placed in a specialized container and slowly pressed. Over time, this causes the oil to drip out (much like water from a sponge) --essential oils from citrus plants are typically derived through this method. No matter what method is used for extraction, it's important that the process is done as purely as possible in order to maintain the oil's potent blend of nutrients and elements. Oil extraction processes involving chemicals, artificial solvents, and extreme heat are generally less ideal.
The Demand for Products Containing Essential Oils Is on the Rise
Time, care, and a good bit of effort are required to extract essential oils from plants. For instance, it takes about 10kg of rose petals to extract just 1ml of essential rose oil. When you realize the sheer amount of product involved in rendering these healthy extracts, it may not be as surprising to hear that a few drops go a long way.
The Ten Most Popular Essential Oils And a Few of Their Uses
- Lavender: This oil has notable calming effects. It is great for relaxation and sleep preparation. It also helps to heal burns, cuts, and scrapes.
- Tea Tree (melaleuca): This oil is a great odor eliminator. It also helps boost the immune system and fight infections.
- Eucalyptus: This oil helps to clear your sinuses and relieve respiratory conditions.
- Peppermint: This oil helps improve mental focus and relieves sinus congestion and headaches.
- Orange: This oil reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps to reduce anxiety.
- Lemongrass: This oil relieves muscle pain and keeps away insects.
- Frankincense: This oil supports brain function and fades age spots.
- Rosemary: This oil stimulates the mind, reduces pain from arthritis and can be used as a circulatory stimulant and is warming.
- Patchouli: This oil is believed to help people connect with their sensual nature, alleviate nervous tension.
- Cinnamon: This oil helps promote self-esteem and is immune boosting.
- Pine needle: This oil contributes to alertness and productivity.
How to Use Essential Oils in Your Daily Health, Beauty, and Wellness Routine
Essential plant oils have very small molecules and therefore easily penetrate your skin and hair. For this reason, a little bit goes a long way. However, because of their potency and high concentration, essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil or through some other medium before being used. Buying natural and organic products already infused with essential oil is strongly recommended (as this takes away the burden on you to achieve the correct ratio). For inspiration, look for quality health, beauty, and home products including shampoos, conditioners, skin lotions, deodorants, cosmetics, laundry detergents, and multipurpose cleaners.