You know that beautiful moment when you walk into a spa and the smell of lavender and heaven hit your sense of smell? You instantly feel ready to relax and check out for the next hour. You can thank essential oils for that divine smell, slowly enticing you to never leave. If you don’t know much about essential oils well, I’m about to change your life. You too can enjoy some time in the bath and body aisle in Whole Foods smelling all the oils!
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants. The oils capture the “essence” or the plants scent and flavor. This is obtained through distillation via steam or cold pressing. Essential oils have been used by many cultures around the world for centuries. Their use ranges from religious purposes to healing. They were used in Egypt dating back to 4500 B.C, to China, India, Greece. Rome, and Persia. Hippocrates, commonly called the “father of medicine” practiced fumigation both for aromatic and medicinal benefit.
During the 14thcentury the black death killed millions of people and herbal preparations were used extensively to help fight the disease. Discoveries of separating the constituents of essential oils were used to create synthetic chemicals and drugs. These discoveries helped shape modern medicine and synthetic fragrances.
Physically, essential oils affect our limbic system, which is a part of the brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviors, sense of smell and long-term memory. This can explain why smells can trigger certain emotions or memories. The limbic system also plays a role in controlling the sympathetic nervous system such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
How To Use
Skin application– Since our skin is somewhat permeable the chemicals in essential oils are absorbed just like any other oil or lotion we would apply to our skin. It is best to use a carrier oil such as coconut, jojoba, or olive oil to avoid skin irritation from the oil.
Aroma Therapy– You can also inhale the oil through the nose or mouth. Inhaling the oil interacts with the olfactory organs and almost immediately, the brain. They are also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system, so inhaling can affect several systems in the body. This could be why aromatherapy is used in massages, yoga, and meditation. To help guide the body into relaxation and creating a smell with the positive experience.
Because herbal products contain bioactive compounds which may be harmful to your health is some ways, some side effects could be: rashes, asthma attacks, headaches, allergic reactions. This is why it is important to mix with a carrier oil if applying to your skin. Eating essential oils is not recommended due to the fact that it can be harmful and, in some cases, fatal.
Benefits Of Essential Oils
- Improve immunity and speed illness recovery
- Balance hormones
- Make homemade cleaning or beauty products
- Aromatherapy and natural air cleansing
- Decrease stress, anxiety, and depression
Who knew essential oils had so many uses and benefits! Obviously when using essential oils, you want to make sure that you find good quality pure oils. A couple reputable companies are DOTERRA and Young Living. These two companies always seem to be fighting to the death in competition with each other, but both have very good oils. So, remember to always do your homework when choosing something that you are going to be putting on your body, whether you want to feel fancy and wear your oil, or simply have a little aromatherapy session.
Photo by: Massimiliano Donghi on Unsplash