Plant medicine is nothing new, but in our modern world where we are swimming (or drowning!) in a sea of consumer health products, it’s easy to forget that nature is the original pharmacy, providing everything we need to maintain our health. Subtle and elegant, nature’s remedies come without the negative side effects and not only heal what ails us, but support our emotional wellbeing, too. Whether you’re looking for an alternative to over-the-counter or prescription meds, an aromatherapeutic boost in your skincare routine or a natural alternative to chemical disinfectants, Essential Oils will likely provide a solution. I sat down with the ladies on The Chat to discuss the physiological and psychological benefits of Essential Oils.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the soul of a plant. It’s the vital, volatile material that is contained within plant cells of a leaf, root, bark, seed or flower. Through various extraction methods (like steam distillation, for example), we’re able to capture this essence in it’s purest form. Different from the way Olive Oil is an oil, Essential Oils have little to no fatty substance. Rather, they are highly concentrated, potent and fragrant waters, containing hormone-like properties, vitamins, minerals and natural antiseptics.
Fun Fact: it takes 10,000 lbs of roses yield 1 lb of essential oil.
What are some Benefits of Essential Oils?
Essential Oils have Psychological and Physiological Benefits.
All EO’s are antiseptics, inhibiting the growth of organisms, bacteria and germs. But some are more powerful than others. These EO’s can be used for:
- Cold Sores
- Household disinfectants
- Infections and fungicides
Some EO’s support our emotional wellbeing and can be used for:
- Stress Relief
Many EO’s are terrific to treat skin conditions including:
Is there medical proof?
Aromatherapy products do not need approval by the USDA because no medical claims are made. That said, Essential Oils have been used for millennia by doctors, healers, herbalists and average consumers to treat a variety of conditions. In our modern world, Aromatherapy has been scientifically studied and proven to provide benefit to physical and emotional benefit. Studies show that EO’s have antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal benefit, making EO’s suitable alternative or compliment for some topical conditions and infections. Studies also show that aromatherapy works by sending chemical messages to the limbic system, the part of the brain the affects mood and emotions. Imaging studies in humans have shown that indeed smell does have an immediate and remarkable impact on emotional pathways. In this way, EO’s help improve quality of life, like reduced stress and anxiety, or as a sleep aid.
Are there any regulations on what benefits they can claim?
Aromatherapy is often considered complimentary and supportive to traditional medicine. Safety testing on EO’s have shown very few negative side effects when used as directed. Some have even been approved for ingestible by the USDA. While some EO’s will cause allergic reactions and skin irritation if directly exposed to skin for long periods of time or if skin is exposed to sun, the majority of Essential Oils are safe to apply directly to skin or in a carrier oil or lotion, or as an inhalation.
My favorite multipurpose oils
Calming Anxiety and Stress Reduction
Disinfectant (skin, body and home)
Natural happiness boost / Antidepressant
How to apply Essential Oils
Essential Oils can be used in 3 basic ways: Application, Inhalation and Internally.
Apply EO’s topically directly on to skin in small doses, using carrier oils and lotions in a massage, in bath salt or in a compress.
The safest and most common way is to add 2% to an unscented carrier lotion, oil or balm.
Mix in a small bowl or in the palm of your hand, and massage into face or body.
*Some EO’s should not be applied directly to skin, and some EO’s like Lavender and Tea Tree have hormone-like effect. Read instructions before applying directly.
Ideal for respiratory conditions or to detoxify purify and enhance the home, EO’s can be used in a diffuser, vaporizer or inhaled straight from the bottle.
Some EO’s have been approved for internal use and classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). Internal EO’s can be used in cooking, baking or ingested in capsule form.
Where to buy