Previously I’ve written about some of the many uses of essential oils but I’ve never really written about what they are and where they come from. And I’ve had a few messages requesting that I explain in a bit more detail. So here’s my introduction to essential oils…
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are natural oils that are extracted from plants. The extraction is done either through distillation (using steam or water) or a process called expression or cold pressing (for citrus peel oils).
Despite their name, they don’t feel particularly oily!
You’ll find that most essential oils are completely clear and colorless.
Having said that, some are yellow or amber. For example, lemongrass oil and patchouli oil.
What are carrier oils?
Essential oils can cause skin irritation or severe reactions if they’re applied to your skin without first diluting them.
Oils that are used to dilute the essential oils are called carrier oils. And these carrier oils also have their own therapeutic benefits too.
Some examples of commonly used carrier oils are coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil.
Essential oils uses
Essential oils have been used for cosmetic, natural remedy and aromatherapy purposes for thousands of years as they can have a wide range of positive effects. Here are just some of their possible uses:
- Treating and improving your skin, such as treating acne, psoriasis or eczema, treating warts, or just to give your skin a warm natural glow
- To prevent and relieve the symptoms of colds and flu
- Treating wrinkles and the signs of aging, including cellulite and stretch marks
- To aid with weight loss
- For neuropathy and nerve pain relief
- For other pain relief, e.g. joint pain, sore muscles, etc.
- Improving your emotional state of mind, reducing anxiety and increasing focus
- As a relaxant and sedative
- Cleansing your body and restoring balance
- Cleaning and purifying your home
- For hair care
- To treat wounds, burns and bruises
- For making home-made sunscreen
- Spiritual enlightenment
- Treating insomnia
- For treating gout and other forms of arthritis
- As a home-made toothpaste and/or deodorant
- For treating headaches, coughs and other ailments
- Boosting your immune system
- As a treatment for asthma
- As a treatment for sinus relief
- For allergy relief
- For healthy cooking and eating
- As a treatment for snoring
- Treating erectile dysfunction, impotence, lack of libido and other sexual problems, including increasing fertility.
- For hemorrhoid treatment
- For treating ADHD
As you can see, there’s quite a list of things that essential oils can be used for! Of course, different essential oils are used for different purposes according to the properties they possess. But you’ll find a lot of them have many different uses. So in the next part of our introduction to essential oils, let’s go over some of their different uses in a bit more detail…
Air purification with essential oil diffusers
Essential oil diffusers can be used to infuse essential oils into your home. They make it smell wonderfully aromatic. And they also allow you to benefit from the relaxing and mood-inducing properties of the oils. You can basically transform your home into your very own aromatherapy parlor!
Using essential oils for allergies can have incredible results as lots of the oils are great for breathing problems. And many of them are natural anti-histamines. Their relaxing and stress-reducing properties can help greatly with allergy relief too.
Some of the best essential oils for allergies include lavender oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. You can apply them topically, inhale them or use a diffuser.
Modern commercial cleaning products work very well but they have one major drawback: they’re full of nasty, toxic chemicals that really aren’t very good for us at all. This is true even of the so-called natural commercial products.
Luckily there’s a totally natural alternative – cleaning with essential oils. And one great advantage of using essential oils for cleaning your home is that your home doesn’t just end up sparkling clean and free of toxins. It also smells wonderful and refreshing too.
And making your own home-made cleaning products is not only surprisingly simple. It also proves to be very cost-effective too.
Erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues
Essential oils have proven to be very effective at treating a whole range of sexual health issues. From erectile dysfunction to impotence and lack of sexual desire, essential oils can help with them all. Numerous essential oils have natural aphrodisiac properties. Others have calming and stress-relieving characteristics that are important in this area.
There are a number of ways that essential oils can be used for your hair. For example, you can use essential oils for hair loss – to treat thinning hair and to promote hair growth.
Using essential oils on your hair can also strengthen it. And they can help make it look beautiful and glossy. Plus essential oils can also be used to treat dandruff and other scalp conditions.
Some of the best essential oils for hair include geranium oil, rosemary oil and lavender oil.
As well as using essential oils for cleaning your work surfaces, bathroom and the rest of your home, you can also make your own home-made natural laundry detergent using essential oils. Again, this is quick and easy to do. And it will leave your laundry completely clean and smelling vibrant and fresh.
Neuropathy and pain relief
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nerves. The symptoms depend on the type of neuropathy you suffer from but typical symptoms include tingling sensations, numbness, muscle weakness or cramps, sickness, bloating and sweating. Essential oils can be used to treat neuropathy. They’re also great for general nerve pain relief.
Essential oils have a huge range of uses when it comes to your skin. They can help treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne, for example. And they can also be used to treat the signs of aging such as wrinkles, skin spots, cellulite and stretch marks. In addition, essential oils can be used on dry or chapped skin, or skin that is too oily. Or they can simply be used to keep your skin looking glowing and fresh.
There are a variety of ways you can use essential oils for your skin. For example, you can simply add a few drops to your bath or your moisturizer cream. Or you can make your own home-made moisturizer with them. And you can make your own facial cleanser or simply add them to your favorite one.
Some of the best essential oils for skin treatments are cedarwood oil, chamomile oil, frankincense oil, geranium oil and melrose oil. There are many other essential oils that are great for your skin too though.
There are several ways that essential oils can help with weight loss. Some, such as grapefruit oil, break down fatty acids in your body and help to prevent water retention. Others, such as peppermint oil, help remove toxins from your body and give you more energy. And some, cinnamon oil for example, will boost your metabolism and reduce your appetite.
Again there are various ways that you can use essential oils for weight loss. These include adding them to your bath, adding a few drops to a drink, using them as massage oils, and more.
Essential oils for your immune system
Your immune system is what your body uses to protect you against illness and disease. It fights off germs and prevents infections. If your immune system is strong then you are much less likely to become ill.
Virtually all of the essential oils can be used to boost your immune system. And there are various ways you can do this. You can directly inhale the oils (diffusers are great for helping with this), or you can add them to a mouth wash and rinse your mouth or gargle with them.
You can even boost your immune system by using essential oils as massage oils.
Essential oil recipes
A great way to introduce yourself to essential oils is by adding them to your cooking. You can do this by adding a few drops to whatever sauce or marinade you’re making. Adding essential oils to your recipes is good not just because of the health benefits they bring. They’re so fragrant and aromatic they’ll make your cooking smell wonderful. And this will make it taste delicious (I’m sure your cooking tastes fantastic anyway, but adding essential oils with just give it that little extra edge!)
An introduction to essential oils has to include a section on safety.
Before you use an essential oil, you should always check the safety data for that oil. Pay particular attention to the toxicity of the oil, as well as skin irritation and sensitization information.
You should also take note of any underlying health issues which mean you shouldn’t use that particular oil. For example, epileptics shouldn’t use sage oil, and people with high blood pressure shouldn’t use sage, rosemary or thyme oils. In addition, some oils such as clary sage shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol consumption.
Likewise, some essential oils should be avoided whilst pregnant. And even those that are safe for use during pregnancy should only be used in half the normal dosages.
Essential oils are safe for children’s use but care should be taken, and the safe dosages depend on the child’s age. Check the safety label for more information on each oil before using on children.
When applying essential oils topically it’s recommended that you always patch test a small area of skin first to make sure you don’t suffer any reaction.
Finally, make sure you store your essential oils in a cool, dark place.
Essential oils are natural plant oils that have a wide range of health benefits. This includes cosmetically, medically and therapeutically. There are many ways of using and applying them, some of which are covered in this introduction to essential oils. Explore the rest of my site for more information about these wonderful natural products.