Guide to Essential Oils
What are Essential oils?Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. An essential oil has the “essential” aromatic and chemical properties of that plant.
Essential oils are made up of minute molecules that are very easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Each oil has a unique chemical composition of terpenes, esters, oxides, alcohols, phenols, ketones, and aldehydes.
- Terpenes inhibit toxin accumulation and discharge them from liver and kidneys
- Esters are anti-fungal, calming, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral
- Oxides are an expectorant, antiseptic and anaesthetic
- Alcohols are antiseptic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and stimulate the immune system
- Phenols provide fragrance, are antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and anti-carcinogenic
- Ketones stimulate cell regeneration and loosen mucous
- Aldehydes are anti-infectious, sedative, topical irritants, and calming when inhaled
How are Essential Oils used ?
Essential oils can be used a single oil at a time or mixed into a blend of oils. They may be
- Diffused aromatically
- Applied topically
- Taken internally, using discretion
If redness or irritation occurs when using essential oils topically, apply any vegetable oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil, to the affected area.
Aromatic UseThe stimulation of hormones and various metabolic processes are all influenced by our sense of smell (the olfactory system).
The olfactory system includes all physical organs or cells relating to, or contributing to, the sense of smell. When we inhale through the nose, airborne molecules interact with the olfactory organs and, almost immediately, the brain.
What makes them different from other fixed oils, such as olive oil, is that they are volatile and evaporate when left open.
Depending on the essential oil, they can stimulate the immune system, assist in cell growth and regeneration, help eliminate toxins, kill bacteria and viruses, and ultimately promote overall health and vitality.
As essential oils are highly concentrated, it is imperative that you use only organic, pure, therapeutic-grade oils.
Molecules inhaled through the nose or mouth are also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. Thus, inhaled essential oils can affect the body through several body systems and pathways.
During inhalation, the molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through the limbic system, amongst others, which is also referred to as the "emotional brain."
The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. You may notice that sometimes the scent of a perfume, or the aroma of your favourite food takes you back down memory lane, to either pleasant or unpleasant times!
Certain essential oils, when diffused in the air, can be very stimulating, while others can be calming and soothing. Over and above the emotional benefits, diffusing essential oils can also remove bad odours and impurities from the air, which is highly beneficial for any respiratory or allergy-related conditions.
The chemical structure of essential oils is changed when they are heated, hence it is best to use a low or no-heat essential oil diffusers for this purpose.
Topical UseThere are roughly about 40 million trillion molecules per drop of essential oil. This equates to approximately 40,000 molecules for each cell in the average human body. This allows essential oils to be easily absorbed by the skin, penetrating the bloodstream within seconds of application. When applied to various parts of the body, there is an immediate, localized benefit to those areas.
They have restorative and calming properties, hence they are so popular with massage and beauty therapies.
When applied on acupressure/acupuncture/reflexology points, they benefit even more as they penetrate the bloodstream almost immediately, and circulate throughout the body. These can be the soles of the feet, the back of the ears and the ears themselves, the back of the neck and the spine.
Internal UseIn some instances, Essential Oils may be taken internally, however this should only be done with precaution and discretion. You must ensure that your brand of choice endorses their oils for internal use.
What can Essential Oils do for me ?Each essential oil possesses a wide range of healing properties, that can be effectively used to maintain a healthy body, and keep you looking good too!
They may be used for a variety of purposes, from physical health, to beauty treatments, mental/emotional/spiritual support, on your pets, and even for everyday household uses.
Some specific applications include, amongst others, improving skin complexion by optimizing cell regeneration, warding off infections, fighting pathogens (virus, bacteria, fungus), easing aches and pains, reducing stress, improving concentration, detoxification, relaxing muscle spasms, helping with insomnia and sleeping disorders, natural antibiotic, calm children down, help a child overcome bedwetting, balancing fluctuating emotions, and mental traumas. The list is endless.
However it is imperative that you buy only Organic, therapeutic grade oils. We don't drink poison as a beverage, so we shouldn't be drinking it through our skin or senses either - imagine a concentrated dose of pesticide or herbicide entering your bloodstream within seconds!