What are essential oils?
Essential oils are extracted directly from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree and just one drop can have powerful health benefits.
They are typically created through the process of distillation which separates the oil and water based compounds of a plant by steaming.Essential oils are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. By concentrating the oils of these plants you are literally separating the most powerful healing compounds of a plant into a single oil.
These therapeutic oils in plants protect the plant from insects, shield the plant from a harsh environment and help them adapt to their surroundings. By taking essential oils you are harnessing the protective and healing 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.
Just adding some of the most common essential oils like lavender, frankincense, lemon, peppermint and tea tree oil to your natural medicine cabinet can:
A 2009 study found that pre-operative patients who received aromatherapy with lavandin oil were significantly less anxious about their surgery than controls. Other oils such as sandalwood, neroli oil, and lavender oil have also been used in traditional medicine to help patients better manage anxiety.
Essential oils are extremely small so they can pass through the skin and into the body quickly. But if you want to keep the oils on your skin and dilute them to create more gentleness on the skin you can combine them with carrier oils.
These larger oils that come from the fatty part of the plant can increase the length of time the essential oils stay on your skin and also prolong the aromatherapy effects.
Some people mistakenly think using carrier oils reduces the effectiveness of the oil but really it can be the opposite. Dilution increases the surface area of absorption and with certain oils can prevent sensitivities.
Common carrier oils include:
Topically – Essential oils have a very small size and of the chemical weight of less than 1000m (m = weight of molecule). According to scientific testing, any substance with a molecular weight below 1000m should be absorbed by the skin. This means that essential oils are able to penetrate the skin and pass into the blood stream and into different areas of the body for internal therapeutic benefits.
Aromatically – There is great evidence that essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream when inhaled. The large amount of blood vessels in the lungs absorb the oils and then circulate them throughout the body.
Using a diffuser can help you experience the benefits of essential oils. You can diffuse lavender to reduce stress, melaleuca to cleanse the air, wild orange to improve mood, frankincense for spiritual enlightenment and peppermint to improve focus and energy.
Ingestion – Essential oils can be used as a powerful form of medicine but it should be remembered that again, essential oils are powerful. Most essential oils are safe for internal use but a little bit goes a long way. Usually 1-3 drops is plenty mixed with water.