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The Many Health Benefits of Essential Oils

Updated on December 22, 2015

Health Benefits of Essential Oil

The numerous health benefits of essential oils have been widely touted by many cultures who have used aromatherapy for a variety of reasons, promoting healing of both the mind and the body. Each oil features its own distinct qualities, aromas, and fragrances, and most are used in conjunction with others to create a specific result, such as soothing anxiety and stress, easing nausea, or relieving headaches.

Essential oils are derived from different sections of various plant life, including the petals of a flower, the rind of a fruit, or leaves, twigs, and bark from trees and wood. The process of extracting these oils takes a considerable amount of time, knowledge, and the right type of equipment, including a large quantity of plants, which can be rather expensive. For example, to create a mere four teaspoonfuls of rose oil, approximately 200 pounds of rose petals will be needed. However, very few drops of essential oils are used at a time to achieve the most positive results.

Synthetic Oils Vs. Natural Oils

There are a number of synthetic oils available for a lower price than their all-natural counterparts, although these man-made oils don't have the same healing qualities or effects as those that are generated naturally. Also, remember that essential oils are very different from "perfume oils," also called scented or fragrance oils. Perfume oils contain substances and chemicals that aren't naturally derived from a plant, and much like synthetic oils, they also don't have the same therapeutic or healing properties. For this very reason it's important to always read every label on any products you intend on using for aromatherapy.

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How Essential Oils Work on the Body and Mind

Besides mental and emotional well being, essential oils have also been used for centuries for treating various medical conditions. The use of aromatherapy shouldn't be looked upon as a magical cure, but rather as a complementary aid to regular health care, although many strongly believe in the benefits they bring which help to trigger healing from within the body.

Unlike most conventional medications that work as they are absorbed through the bloodstream, essential oils have an immediate impact on our many olfactory cells, which control the sense of smell. As we breathe in the fragrance from the oils, receptor cells are instantly stimulated, sending messages to the brain's sensitive limbic system. The limbic system is linked to certain parts of the brain that control a variety of vital functions, including breathing and circulation, memory, our emotions, as well as the endocrine system, which is essential for controlling hormone levels.

Essential oils may be used not only by inhaling, such as through the use of scented candles, but also through massage so they are absorbed into the skin, and also in the bath so they are also able to penetrate the skin's cells. It's helpful to know the absorption rate when using oils for massage purposes to utilize their maximum effectiveness.

The Basics of Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Essential oils, often referred to as the pure or true essence of a plant, are categorized or described by three different classifications; top, middle, or base note. These terms refer to the oil's evaporative qualities, which in essence dictates how long the scent will last, or be effective on the senses.

The most stimulating of all oils are considered to be "top note" oils which feature a rather strong fragrance, but one that will only last for less than 24 hours. Some of the most commonly used top note essential oils include basil, clary sage, eucalyptus, neroli, peppermint, and thyme.

The next level is considered "middle note," and contains the longest lasting of all the essential oils, generally lingering on for two to three days. The scents and fragrances, although not quite as strong as those from the top note category, emitted by these oils have an effect on the body and its metabolic system. Some middle note essential oils include chamomile, geranium, juniper, lavender, and rosemary.

For a long-lasting effect, up to seven whole days, choose "base note" oils, including cedarwood, clove, frankincense, ginger, jasmine, or rose. To reap the different health benefits of essential oils, the right balance of all three notes will bring about the best aspects of aromatherapy.

Proper Usage of Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

To truly realize the many benefits of essential oils, there are certain safety guidelines that should be closely followed. A physician or an aromatherapy practitioner who is well versed in the many oils and their uses, as well as any special precautions should be able to offer more advice about specific health concerns.

There are some oils that may cause allergic reactions or sensitivity in some people, and there are those should not be used at all for the purpose of aromatherapy, such as wintergreen, camphor, or bitter almond. Pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy or severe asthma, should also take care to avoid using certain essential oils.

Here is a handy guide of commonly used essential oils, and some of the ailments or conditions they're most often used to treat:

  • Basil: Bronchitis, colds, fatigue, influenza, gout, insect repellent, sinusitis
  • Bay Laurel: Amenorrhea, colds, influenza, tonsillitis
  • Bergamot: Acne, anxiety, cold sores, depression, fatigue, halitosis, itching, oily skin, stress
  • Black Pepper: Arthritis, constipation, fatigue, muscle cramps, poor circulation
  • Cedarwood: Acne, anxiety, arthritis, bronchitis, cystitis, dandruff, stress
  • Clary Sage: Amenorrhea, anxiety, depression, dysmenorrhea, fatigue, sore throat, stress
  • Cypress: Hemorrhoids, fatigue, oily skin, rheumatism
  • Frankincense: Anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, depression, scars, stress, stretch marks
  • Ginger: Arthritis, fatigue, nausea, sore muscles
  • Grapefruit: Cellulitis, depression, fatigue, stress, water retention
  • Helichrysum: Acne, burns, depression, dermatitis, fatigue, panic disorders, skin wounds
  • Jasmine: Depression, dry skin, fatigue, labor pains, sensitive skin
  • Lavender: Acne, anxiety, asthma, depression, irritability, labor pains, panic disorders, sprains, stress
  • Lemon: Athlete's foot, colds, depression, fatigue, influenza, oily skin, varicose veins, warts. This one is sometimes mistaken as essential oil lemongrass. Note that it is only essential oil lemon, as lemon and lemongrass are different. Many customers are looking for essential oil lemongrass instead of essential oil lemon, so be guided.
  • Mandarin: Anxiety, depression, irritability, stress
  • Neroli: Anxiety, depression, irritability, panic disorders, stress
  • Orange: Colds, depression, digestion, influenza, stress
  • Patchouli: Acne, anxiety, fatigue, hair care, insect repellent, stress
  • Peppermint: Asthma, fatigue, headaches, nausea, sinusitis
  • Roman Chamomile: Allergies, anxiety, arthritis, depression, earaches, irritability, PMS, stress
  • Rose: Anxiety, depression, eczema, menopause, panic disorders, stress. Essential oil rose is a popular one. The most well-known essential oil is probably rose oil, essential oil rose is produced from the petals of Rosa Damascena and Rosa Centifolia. Steam-distilled essential oil rose is known as "rose otto" while the solvent extracted product is known as "rose absolute".
  • Rosemary: Arthritis, dandruff, fatigue, neuralgia, poor circulation
  • Sandalwood: Anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, oily skin, stress
  • Vetiver: Acne, anxiety, arthritis, fatigue, stress
  • Ylang Ylang: Depression, hypertension, stress


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    marvelous 7 years ago

    Thanks for the good info provided