Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. Because of their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral, and calming properties, they continue to gain popularity as natural, safe, and cost-effective therapy for several health concerns.
The particles in essential oils come from distilling or extracting the different parts of plants, including the flowers, leaves, bark, roots, resin, and peels. In fact, just one drop of an essential oil can have powerful health benefits.
What Are Essential Oils?
Typically created through the process of distillation — which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming — they are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. In fact, sometimes they are called volatile aromatic oils because of their high concentration of the aromatic compounds. The Essential Oils are the ingredient that gives plants their Aroma and Fragrance.
Essential Oils are often referred to as Aromatherapy Oils.
How do essential oils work? By concentrating the oils of these plants, you literally separate the most powerful healing compounds of a plant into a single oil. For instance, to get one single 15-milliliter bottle of Rose Essential Oil, it takes 65 pounds of rose petals!
These therapeutic oils protect the plants from insects, shield them from a harsh environment and help them adapt to their surroundings. By taking essential oils, you harness the protective and beneficial powers of a plant.
Essential oils are composed of very small molecules that can penetrate your cells, and some compounds in essential oils can even cross the blood-brain barrier. They differ from fatty oils (like those in vegetables or nuts) that come from large molecules because they cannot penetrate your cells, so they are not therapeutic in the same manner.
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Health Benefits of Essential Oils
There are essential oils for hormones that may help balance your estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid, and testosterone levels.
Some oils, such as Clary Sage, Geranium, and Thyme, help balance out estrogen and progesterone levels, which can improve conditions like infertility and PCOS, as well as PMS and menopause symptoms. Geranium and Rose can influence the salivary concentration of estrogen in women. This may be helpful for women who experience menopausal symptoms that are caused by declining levels of estrogen secretion. Many Essential Oils help to lower cortisol levels, which can help to improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression, and increase testosterone levels, which can improve a man’s libido.
Boost Immunity and Fight Infections
Most essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties that help boost your immune system and fight infections. The chemical substances found in the oils, such as terpenes, esters, phenolics, ethers and ketones, have the potential to fight foreign pathogens that can threaten your health.
Some of the best essential oils for your immunity include:
Studies have shown that essential oils destroy fungal, viral, and bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori and Candida albicans infections. Because antibiotic resistance is becoming such a major threat in modern health care, using essential oils as a form of independent or combination therapy can help fight bacterial infections in a safer and more natural way.
Oregano Oil is known for its powerful immune-boosting properties. Oregano oil contains carvacrol and thymol, two compounds that have antimicrobial effects and can inhibit the synthesis and growth of several types of bacteria. Frankincense is known for its immune-enhancing abilities and may destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses and even cancers. Frankincense also demonstrates anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects when tested in lab studies.
Another researched essential oils benefit is their role in aiding and improving digestion. Some oils help relieve upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach spasms and even conditions of the gastrointestinal system, such as IBS. Oils can also aid your digestion by helping to stimulate digestive enzymes that make it easier to break down and absorb the nutrients, fats, and protein that you need.
Ginger, for example, is known to promote your digestive health by easing indigestion, constipation, and ulcers. Ginger oil is also used to relieve gas, reduce nausea, and ease abdominal pain. Another useful essential oil for digestion is Peppermint. It has been shown to relieve symptoms of IBS. Some other essential oils that may be helpful for digestion include Fennel, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Black Pepper, and Juniper.
Boost Energy Levels
Did you know that essential oils can help boost your energy levels and even improve your athletic performance? Some oils have stimulating effects and can increase oxygen to your brain. This leaves you feeling refreshed, focused, and energized. Some great essential oils for energy include Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus and Rosemary.
Improve Brain Function
With neuroprotective effects and cognitive performance-boosting abilities, essential oil benefits have helped many people who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Essential Oils possess powerful antioxidants that work to inhibit free radical scavenging, they naturally help improve brain function and reduce inflammation.
Essential oils have also been shown to improve learning, memory, and ability to focus. Both stimulating and sedative oils can be useful, as oils like Eucalyptus can improve sustained attention over a longer period, while oils like Bergamot can be useful for people going through tough exercises or situations. Furthermore, they can be useful in relieving agitation in individuals with dementia. This is due to their calming and sedative effects.
Reduce Emotional Stress and Anxiety
Perhaps one of the most well-known essential oils benefits is their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Some have sedative properties and induce a calm, peaceful, uplifting, and relaxed feeling.
The best essential oils for anxiety and stress include:
- Roman Chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
Alleviate Aches and Pains
There are many oils that may be applied topically or used aromatically to reduce aches and pains. They work by reducing inflammation, relaxing muscles, and soothing the mind.
The best essential oils for alleviating aches and pains include:
Boost Skin and Hair Health
Using essential oils on your skin and in hair and beauty products is a natural and effective way to keep up your personal care regimes without having to use products that are made with chemicals and hydrogenated oils. Essential oils may calm irritated skin, reduce signs of aging, improve acne, and protect your skin from sun damage and thicken your hair. Essential Oils can also help improve inflammatory skin conditions — like dermatitis, eczema, and lupus — improve the general appearance of your skin and even aid wound healing.
The best essential oils for skin and hair include:
- Roman chamomile
- Tea Tree
- Clary Sage
Essential oils may help reduce toxicity by promoting the detoxification of your home and body. These days, we all inhale and ingest several chemicals and environmental toxins that can be dangerous for the heart, brain, and overall health.
Some oils work as mild diuretics, thereby increasing urine production and improving detoxification. Some essential oils aid digestion and help to detoxify the gut. Oils that help to promote internal detoxification include Lemon, Grapefruit, Fennel, Lemongrass and Ginger.
Using detoxifying oils can help flush out these toxins and clean the air of your home, too. In fact, unlike most home cleaning products that are loaded with chemicals, essential oils can naturally clean your home by destroying harmful pathogens and pollutants. The best oils for reducing toxicity in your home or place of work include Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus and Cinnamon.
Relieve Headaches and Migraines
Essential oils may work as natural headache and migraine relievers because they effectively treat the trigger, addressing the root of the problem instead of masking it. Essential Oils for headaches provide pain relief, improve circulation, and reduce stress, which can be a major cause of both headaches and migraines.
Lavender is great for headaches. Some other oils that can help relieve headache pain include Peppermint, which has a cooling effect and stimulates blood flow; Eucalyptus, which relieves sinus pressure by opening the nasal airways; and Rosemary, which reduces inflammation, promotes circulation, and has a calming effect.
Promote Restful Sleep
Some essential oils have sedative properties, which can be helpful for people who have trouble falling asleep or getting through the night. Lavender oil is known to be an effective sleep aid because of its ability to leave you feeling relaxed and calm. Some other oils that can be used to promote a restful slumber include Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot and Vetiver.
15 Essential Oils and Their Benefits
Each Essential Oil contains compounds with unique healing and therapeutic benefits. Here are some of the most popular essential oils and their top benefits:
- Clove: Clove provides antibacterial, anti-parasitic and antioxidant protection.
- Cypress: Cypress has been shown to improve circulation, reduce varicose veins, lifts confidence, and can help heal broken bones.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil helps improve respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis, and allergies. It has invigorating and purifying effects.
- Frankincense: Frankincense builds immunity, reduces inflammation, and heals age spots. It has also been shown to support brain health and may help fight cancer.
- Ginger: Ginger reduces inflammation, supports joints, improves digestion, and helps relieve nausea.
- Grapefruit: Grapefruit has been found to improve metabolism and help cellulite reduction.
- Lavender: This popular oil helps with relaxation, improves mood, and helps skin healing of burns and cuts.
- Lemon: Lemon is great to use in homemade cleaning products as a natural antibacterial tool.
- Myrrh: Myrrh works as a natural antiseptic, and it may prevent or reduce infections and reduce inflammation of skin cells.
- Oregano: Oregano has powerful antimicrobial properties, and it possesses antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
- Peppermint: Peppermint supports digestion, boosts energy, and works as a fever reducer. It helps reduce headache and muscle pain.
- Rose: Rose oil can reduce skin inflammation, and it’s great for creating glowing skin. It is common in face care products.
- Rosemary: Rosemary can naturally thicken hair, so it’s great to add to homemade shampoos. It also helps improve brain function and memory.
- Tea tree oil (melaleuca): Tea tree serves as a natural antibacterial and antifungal that reduces bad odors and can help stimulate the immune system.
- Sandalwood: Sandalwood is a natural aphrodisiac that has the ability help improve libido.
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