Essential Oils to Enhance Wellness
Essential oils have been gaining popularity over the last 15 years. They are often used complementarily with typical medicinal treatments. Essential oils, along with some of their subcomponents, contain anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-biotic properties. They also boast of psychological effects like aiding with stress, depression and insomnia (Ramsey et al., 2020).
What are essential oils?
Based on the producer’s extraction technique or the plant’s place of origin, the makeup of essential oils, which are intricate chemicals made up of hundreds of elements, can vary substantially. Essential oils are, in simple words, plant extracts. Different parts of the plant, like the bark, leaves, flowers, etc., are pressed to trap the compounds responsible for the fragrance. These unique fragrances or aromas have been used for decades for their healing properties. However, one must remember that essential oils are not magic pills; one should not use them without other healing methods. Additionally, one must check for any allergies or sensitivities before using them.
How do they work?
Essential oils are beneficial in two ways – via smell and touch. In other words, they have healing properties that can be activated by smelling them (also called aromatherapy) or applying them topically to the skin. The particles of an essential oil that are inhaled go straight from the olfactory nerves (the nerves responsible for smell) to the brain. There, they engage with the limbic system, which controls memories, emotions, and feelings. When applied directly to the skin, the particles can absorb into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body to improve overall health.
Psychological benefits of essential oils
- Reduce Anxiety and Stress
For anxiety and stress, aromatherapy can bring calm, have a sedating effect, and relieve tension. Lowering anxiety and stress levels is one of the most popular benefits of essential oils. The oils mainly used for this purpose include lavender, lemon, bergamot, valerian, jasmine, chamomile, and rose.
- Aids Depression symptoms
Essential oils might help manage the symptoms of depression. Some of the oils chosen for this include bergamot, lavender, rosemary and jasmine.
- Helps with Sleep issues
Adding a relaxing essential oil to your nighttime routine can help with insomnia and other sleep-related problems. Lavender oil has been proven to aid sleep quality and reduce sleep disturbances. Other oils used are jasmine, marjoram and chamomile.
- Boost Energy Levels
Some essential oils can improve athletic performance and reduce fatigue. They increase the oxygen supply to your brain, making you feel refreshed and energized.
Physical benefits of essential oils
- Reduce Nausea
Peppermint and ginger are the most commonly used essential oils for digestion and nausea. These reduce gastrointestinal tension and aid the digestive process.
- Lower muscle pain
While aromatherapy or applying essential oils to the skin will not cure any pain issues, they can help the pain management process. Rosemary, eucalyptus and marjoram oils were found to be helpful. Joint pain and stiffness can also be reduced using rose oil.
- Ease pain from menstrual cramps and helps PMS symptoms
Rather than over-the-counter pain-relief medications, essential oils may be safer to use. Oils such as grapefruit and ginger essential oils have been shown to bring relief from menstrual issues. These also balance estrogen and progesterone levels, aiding infertility and improving conditions like PCOD.
- Aids with headaches and migraine
When applied to the temple and forehead, peppermint essential oil can bring some relief from headaches and migraine pains.
- Reducing inflammation
Some doctors suggest that essential oils contain anti-inflammatory properties, making them suitable for dealing with inflammatory conditions.
- Clearing sinuses
The body’s airways can be cleared by inhaling tea tree oil, peru oil and eucalyptus oil.
- Treat bacterial and fungal infections
Since essential oils are antibacterial and anti-fungal, they are often used topically to treat bacterial and fungal infections of the body. As a result, they are also used to boost immunity and fight off any viral infections.
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How to use essential oils
- Try adding a few drops to a spray bottle, dilute it with water, and spritz it on surfaces around you.
- Apply a few drops to a cotton ball, and keep it with you.
- Rub or massage the oil directly onto joints or pulse points.
- Use an oil diffuser or vaporiser made for aromatherapy.
- Simply take a quick smell of the bottle when needed.
- You can also add some drops to a body wash or shampoo as needed.
How to choose the right essential oils
Choose a relatively purer form of the essential oil, with as few additives as possible. A tip is to see whether the plant’s botanical name has been used. Pure oils usually use these names. Purchase a brand with a good reputation and good reviews. Always do a patch test before applying any oils. Stop immediately in case of any allergic symptoms. Do consult a medical professional before ingesting any essential oils.
Ramsey, J. T., Shropshire, B. C., Nagy, T. R., Chambers, K. D., Li, Y., & Korach, K. S. (2020). Essential Oils and Health. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 93(2), 291–305.
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