I think it’s safe to say that the essential oil movement is really taking off. They are all the rage right now, but it is not just a fad. There is science behind this age-old natural treatment method. With increasing healthcare concerns and a system that treats us mainly with drugs that are a one size fits all model, people are looking for natural solutions to these ever-increasing concerns. Essential oils can empower us by offering the first line of defense in treating many of our health ailments. This will not only save us long waits in hospitals, tons of money in co-pays, not to mention having to sit with a lot of sick people in waiting rooms, it will also give us options when it comes to caring for ourselves and loved ones.
So let’s begin!
Essential oils come from plants. They can come from the leaves, stems, seeds, flowers, roots, barks and even the resins. When we walk in nature we experience the lovely scents of the essential oils being emitted from the plants. Be it the earthy odors coming from the ground or the sweet smell of flowers.
These odors are the plants’ natural defenses and their immune systems. They serve to attract or detract insects and animals. Some plants, like flowers, use the scents to attract bees for example. The bees pollinate the flowers by transferring the pollen to the female reproductive organs of the plants allowing them to multiply and flourish.
Plants and humans are made up of the same chemical compositions, namely carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Of course they are arranged differently, but basically, it’s the same model. So when we ingest plants we also benefit from their amazing immune systems, as our bodies can easily recognize and utilize these whole plant molecules.
Oils are extracted from plants by using either a steam distillation process or by cold pressing of the rinds when it comes to citrus fruits. For many plants, it can take a huge quantity of plant material to create a few drops of an essential oil. For example, to get a 5 ml bottle of rose oil, it takes approximately 8000 roses and we all know how expensive roses are, so when you see the price of a pure oil, know that the reason is the large quantity of plant material needed. Other price factors also include: where the oils come from, how often they are harvested, transportation, shipping etc.
Three Ways To Use Essential Oils
There are three main ways in which to use essential oils:
The first method is aromatic. This is where the term aromatherapy derives. The most common form is to use a diffuser, which generally involves water, but there are also other types of diffusers on the market. We never want to heat the oils, as heating, an essential oil will change its molecular structure and destroy its therapeutic properties. We can also put a few drops on a spray bottle filled with water and mist away. Walking into a room that has been infused with essential oils is a wonderful experience.
The second method is topical. This involves putting the oils on our skin. As essential oils are volatile compounds (meaning they evaporate quickly) it’s always best to dilute them with a carrier oil. Carrier oils can be any greasy substance such as coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, or even a neutral lotion. The carrier oil will disperse and envelop the molecules of the essential oils, allowing them to go farther, last longer and penetrate better into the skin.
Do a patch test when using them on the skin, in order to see if you have a sensitivity to a particular oil. Please note: always use good quality carrier oils when diluting, Organic first cold pressed is best. As our skin is the largest organ of our body, what we put on it, we are definitely ingesting. The rule of thumb is, if we can’t eat it we shouldn’t be putting it on our skin.
The third method is internal. Yes, I said it. You can use pure essential oils internally when certified GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). That said, you must use them sparingly, 1 or 2 drops is plenty. You can either put a couple of drops in some water, put a drop directly under the tongue or even put a drop or two into an empty capsule, that you can find in most health food stores.
Take A Common Sense Approach
Whether you use essential oils aromatically, topically or internally, is generally of little importance. Use the method that best suits you and matches the reason you are using it. For example, lavender on a burn helps the healing process. Diffusing or taking it internally would not be as effective.
In my next article, I will talk about knowing where your oils come from. This is an extremely important part of the therapeutic value. You can buy cheap oils but what is on the label might not be what you actually want. When it comes to essential oils, like many other things out there, we get what we pay for.
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