Most of the people I met, either have no clue what essential oils are or have no idea why they should be part of our daily lives. It is enriching and exciting at the same time for me to tell them how essential oils can improve our lives in many ways – from providing relief from stress, anxiety, sleep disorders to improving general health to reduce reliance on chemical based cosmetics and personal and home care products. Here, we have summarised properties, benefits and usages of essential oils for your easy reference so that you should start using essential oils from today.
Essential oils are aromatic concentrated volatile liquid extracted from parts of the plants using specific methods like distillation or cold press. Essential oils inherits that particular plant’s flavor and scent and are composed of hundreds of compounds.
Essential oils have innumerable therapeutic properties like antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, digestive, and many more. Following is a brief list of major essential oil properties and associated essential oils:
These wonderful properties of essential oils may help us in dealing with a number of health problems and improve our general health and reduce our over reliance on medications. We have discussed a few of the major health benefits of essential oils below.
Essential oils have compounds that may helps us in controlling hormones and create balance in the body. Conditions such as menopause, infertility, and PMS can be improved if the hormone levels are balanced, especially those of estrogen and progesterone.
Other hormones like thyroid, testosterone, and cortisol may also be regulated with the help of essential oils. Lowering cortisol levels helps to improve mood by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Essential oils contain many chemical compounds including ethers, esters, ketones, terpenes, and phenolics, which can fight off foreign pathogen that poses a threat to your health. The antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties of essential oils make these beneficial for the immune system by fighting infections of any kind.
Frankincense, oregano, ginger, peppermint, lemon, cinnamon, and eucalyptus essential oils can give a boost to your immunity by effectively destroying some of the bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens.
Essential oils are best known for reducing feelings of stress and nervousness. A few possess sedative properties which calm the mind and impart a relaxing feeling.
Some of the best essential oils for stress relief are lavender, rose, orange, vetiver, frankincense, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, geranium, lemon, clary sage, and bergamot.
The sedative properties of some essential oils are helpful, even in stressful situations, for those who find it difficult to sleep through the night or have trouble falling asleep.
A 2013 study was conducted to examine the effects of aromatherapy on the sleep and anxiety levels of patients in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It found that those ICU patients who had been made to inhale essential oils blended with lavender, neroli, and Roman chamomile showed a significant improvement in sleep quality and a decrease in anxiety levels.
Other oils which help to promote a restful night’s sleep include bergamot, ylang-ylang, vetiver, rose, and patchouli.
Essential oil benefits also include improving memory and ability to learn, thereby enhancing brain function as a whole. The sedative and calming properties of essential oils make these helpful for those who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative issues.
Some of essential oils are also useful in improving concentration, such as oils of basil, cedar, grapefruit, rosemary, vetiver, and peppermint.
In 2013, a study conducted by researchers at Northumbria University, Newcastle, proved that sniffing rosemary essential oil can improve long-term memory by 60-75%.
Administering essential oils can give a boost to energy levels and exercise performance and reduce fatigue. In turn, you are left feeling not only energized, but also refreshed and more focused than before.
In addition to removing blemishes, scars, and age spots, essential oils are also known for their ability to reduce acne and do away with skin irritations. Some of the essential oils well known for acne treatment are tea tree, rosemary, lavender, ylang-ylang, orange, cedar wood, and oregano.
Studies show that around 98 commercial essential oils are recommended for treating dermatological conditions, out of which 88 are used for the treatment of skin infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
But their merits don’t stop there. Essential oil benefits also entail hair growth and thickening, while others help to reduce dandruff and improve dry, scaly scalp and skin. The best essential oils for hair growth include tea tree, frankincense, lavender, rosemary, clary sage, and Roman chamomile. These are able to fight pathogens that tend to cause eczema, dermatitis, and other inflammatory skin conditions and skin infections.
Since essential oils reduce feelings of stress and improve blood circulation, they help to relieve pain from migraines and headaches. Essential oils known for help in headaches include lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus.
Peppermint essential oil stimulates the flow of blood and has a certain cooling effect. While rosemary has a calming effect and promotes blood circulation, eucalyptus opens the nasal airways and thus relieves sinus pressure.
According to a placebo-controlled clinical study conducted in 2012, inhaling lavender essential oil is a safe and effective treatment in cases of migraine headaches. In this trial, 47 patients who had been diagnosed with migraine headaches were divided into 2 groups cases and controls. Liquid paraffin and lavender essential oil were administered to controls and cases respectively, for 15 minutes each. The reduction in headache severity was 3.6 ± 2.8 in cases, whereas in controls, it was 1.6 ± 1.6. This reduction was, thus, much less in the control group than in cases.
There are uncountable purposes and problems for which essentials can be used.
One of the best methods of using an essential oil is by diffusing it with the help of an essential oil diffuser like a nebuliser or an ultrasonic diffuser.
Essential oils can also be used topically. However, before using essential oils topically, care must be taken to first dilute an essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut, olive, jojoba, almond before applying it topically. Doing a skin patch test before using the oil is also recommended. You must be aware of essential oils safety guidelines once you have decided to use the oil in recipes or in other ways.
Some essential oils uses are listed below:-
Air Freshener: Instead of using commercial air fresheners, it is better to cleanse the air in your room by diffusing essential oils. Doing so not only imparts a unique fragrance from pure and natural oils, but you can also experience their therapeutic benefits.
Insect Repellent: Essential oils, especially lemongrass and eucalyptus, can be effectively used as insect repellents.
Put cedar-wood essential oil on cotton balls and place them in storage areas to repel moths.
Lemongrass oil on clothes also keeps insects at bay. Ants and rats can be repelled by sprinkling peppermint oil on cotton balls around the house.
Clove oil can be mixed with rubbing alcohol and then used as a bug spray. Keep fleas away from horses and dogs by diluting an essential oil with a carrier oil.
Massage Therapy: Massage therapy with essential oils is beneficial for muscle spasms, depression, asthma, hypertension, insomnia, eating disorders, nausea and various other issues. For reducing symptoms of menopause, massage rose oil slowly into the skin.
Brew Tea: Drink tea brewed using essential oils like ginger, lemongrass, or chamomile to relieve yourself when you are feeling like vomiting or for stomach pain relief.
Stress Reliever: Inhale essential oils like frankincense, lavender, jasmine among others in order to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, mental fatigue, and nervousness. You can also diffuse an essential oil like lemongrass to enhance your mood.
Flavoured Water: Use a drop of lemon or lime oil to flavour water during summer.
Relieve Common Cold: For reducing symptoms of common cold or a wheezing chest, try steam inhalation of lime or oregano essential oil. Peppermint oil can be diffused to help with colds caused by allergies. Eucalyptus, black pepper, ginger, orange, rosemary, clove, pine, and tea tree are other essential oils useful for dealing with symptoms of colds.
Dental Health: After mixing clove oil with a carrier oil like olive oil, rub the mixture on sore
gums, but take care not to swallow it. Brush your teeth with clove toothpaste bought from a
store, or add a drop of myrrh oil to your toothpaste.
Treat Inflammation: Use myrrh oil in a cold compress to treat inflamed skin.
Hair care: Some people suffer from hair loss (alopecia) due to a variety of reasons like radiation, thyroid issues, stress, malnutrition, and so on. In this case, add a few drops of rosemary, lavender, or cypress to a shampoo to help with thinning hair. These essential oils can also be diluted with a carrier oil and then massaged onto the scalp.
Hand sanitizer: If a common hand sanitizer is not available, rub diluted oregano essential oil on the palms as a better alternative.
House cleaner: Mix oregano oil with water in a spray bottle and use it to clean the house and give it a shiny makeover. Lemon is a natural disinfectant and a house cleaner.
Reduce motion sickness: A few drops of an essential oil like ginger on a tissue are enough to relieve motion sickness while going on a car ride. Peppermint oil can also be inhaled in this case.
Treat headaches: Rub diluted peppermint oil on the temples to reduce headaches and feel relaxed. One or two drops of rosemary essential oil should be poured onto the hand and then breathed in deeply for treating a bad headache. Adding spearmint to a cold compress can also be used for headache treatment.
Acne remover: Apply diluted essential oils like lemongrass to acne-prone spots on the skin. Rose oil is one of the few ones that can be applied directly on the acne spots to remove them.
Breath freshener: For those who are suffering from bad breath, it is recommended to gargle with some drops of spearmint oil in water. This will make the breath as fresh as ever.
Energy booster: Diffusing essential oils like spearmint can help to enhance energy levels and reduce fatigue.
Ease morning sickness: After sprinkling a few drops of sweet orange oil on a tissue, inhale the scent to reduce morning sickness.
Gargle solution: In a cup of warm water, add salt and a couple of drops of sweet orange essential oil. Use this solution to gargle and heal or prevent a sore throat.
Facial creams: There are several essential oils for skin care, but in order to fight wrinkles and age spots, these oils must be selected carefully. Some oils which can be incorporated in a face cream or lotion and then used to fight traces of ageing include rose, geranium, lavender, clary sage, frankincense, rosemary, neroli, and myrrh.
Sitz bath: A sitz bath, also called a hip bath, is normally used as a general tonic, but is especially known for treating problems in the genital and pelvic areas. A hot sitz bath is beneficial for uterine cramps, painful ovaries or testicles, while a cold one has benefits in cases of constipation, inflammation, or even impotence. Essential oils can be used in a sitz bath to improve its experience. The best essential oil for sitz bath is tea tree oil, but any other oil can be added as well and then blended with the water.
There are numerous more essential oils recipes for home, skin care, and hair growth. With so many beneficial properties and therapeutic merits of using essential oils, there is absolutely no reason why you should not start using them today!