Lifestyle: Essential Oils

Essential oils are organic compounds extracted directly from the fruit, leaf, seed, bark, flower, or root of a plant or tree. They are crafted through a distillation process which separates the oil and water based compounds of a plant via steaming. This process creates highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma and the most healing compounds of a plant. The oil’s composition is of minute molecules that can penetrate the cell and some cross the blood-brain barrier. Oils such as fatty oils from nuts and vegetables have larger molecules and no therapeutic value since they can not enter the cell.

Essential oils derived from plants provide protection from the environment, insects, and assist in adaptation to their surroundings. By using essential oils you are taking in the healing and protective properties of the plant.

For thousands of year, different cultures have used the healing properties of plant based oils for differing health conditions, as cosmetics, perfumes, or other medicinal purposes. The healing purpose is referred as aromatherapy. This is a holistic treatment for improving emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. Today they are used as natural medicine, for relaxation, beauty care, and cleaning products.

The science of aromatherapy was discovered by a French chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1928. His goal was to help injured soldiers during World War 1. He discovered that lavender oil has therapeutic healing benefits for wounds, burns, and dermal infections. Aromatherapy matriculated throughout Europe during this time.

Today, there are trained professionals such as physical and massage therapists, nutritionists, aromatherapists, and natural medicine practitioners that utilize the healing properties of essential oils. The fastest growing trend is in personal care utilizing the oils to improve beauty, home, and overall health.

There are hundred of scientific based studies that now demonstrate the beneficial application of essential oils for healing wounds, improving mood, boosting immune function, aid with digestion, support a better night sleep, and in supporting cancer treatments.

The application of essential oils can be delivered via ingestion, aromatically, or topically with each having a different therapeutic effect.

Ingestion is safe for most essential oils but because of the concentrated nature, a little goes a long way and a few drops is mixed with water.

Aromatically, essential oils are placed into a diffuser and when inhaled are absorbed via the blood vessels in the lungs then circulated throughout the body.

Topically, the molecular structure of essential oils in size and chemical weight being so small allows the oil to be readily absorbed into the skin and pass into the bloodstream thereby traveling to areas of the body for internal therapeutic benefits. Sometime a carrier oil will be utilized to increased effect.

Top 10 Essential Oils and Their Therapeutic Use

1) Clove

Used for its anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and antioxidant protection.

2) Eucalyptus

Improves respiratory concerns such as allergies, URIs, sinusitis, and bronchitis.

3) Frankincense

Reduces inflammation, builds immunity, supports brain function, and used as a cancer treatment.

4) Lavender

Improve moods, heals wounds and burns, and help with relaxation.

5) Lemon

Improves lymphatic drainage and cleanses the body.

6) Oregano

Potent anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and hastens the resolution of upper respiratory infections.

7) Peppermint

Improves focus, boosts energy, supports digestion, fever reducer, muscle and headache pain relief.

8) Rosemary

Improves brain function and memory.

9) Tea tree oil (melaleuca)

Natural anti-fungal, anti-microbial, stimulates the immune system, and decreases orders.

10) Sandalwood

Improves libido as a natural aphrodisiac and improves energy.

*Essential oils can be used as a stand alone or blended together for enhanced therapeutic effect or blended with a base oil, such as coconut oil, to be massaged into the skin.