Have you heard people swearing by the wellness properties of essential oils? Many prefer oils to traditional medicinal practices, in case of minor illness and discomfort. Even more choose essential oils as cognitive stimulants, means of relaxation and emotional stability, a natural alternative to store-bought cosmetics and of, course, a great way to turn every home into a haven for the entire family. But why do all those people believe in the powers of essential oils?
How do these concentrated liquids, used for thousands of years by many civilizations, actually work? Whether you have already been acquainted with the myriad of benefits coming from essential oils or you are just starting to learn about this vast world, knowing why essential oils are so effective is both important and interesting.
Every essential oil has the powers of the plant it has been extracted from. However, essential oils are usually much stronger than their plant counterparts. This is because for the production of just a few ounces of essential oil, thousands of pounds of the plant are necessary. So, the basic benefits of oils are essentially the same benefits that the plant would offer, only the result is stronger.
Still, how are essential oils able to have such a strong beneficial effects on the human body?
The effect often depends on the method used to utilize the essential oil. Every method has its own advantages and the explanation of its efficacy is different. Nevertheless, almost all essential oils have a few potent properties – they are analgesics, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-rheumatic and pain relieving.
Most popularly essential oils are used for aromatherapy. This is the practice of inhaling the oil through water vapors, special essential oil inhalers and others. Aromatherapy can be used for general relaxation or stimulation, as well as treating many mild health conditions such as allergies, stress, digestive disorders and others. When you inhale essential oils, the vapors effect all of your internal organs.
Airborne molecules travel through your respiratory system to the brain and thus reach the limbic system. The limbic system is also known as the “emotional brain” but, in fact, it is much more than that. This is the part of the brain directly connected to your memory, breathing, stress levels, heartbeat and hormone levels. In other words - all the systems that interact when you are experiencing a strong emotional reaction.
So, when essential oils reach the limbic system and effect all of those bodily functions, they are able to soothe many emotional and physical issues.
Another means of applying essential oils is through the skin. The skin, your largest organ, is able to absorb certain chemical compounds. That is why nicotine patches and pharmaceutical creams work. Applying essential oils topically to the skin is especially effective when you first massage or heat the area.
This way you increase circulation and make the skin more permeable. Essential oils used in this way can help treat skin conditions, joint and muscle problems, as well as help you relax. So using certain oils, such as German Chamomile, you can treat eczema, apply Ginger oil for arthritis or sleep better with Lavender.
Ingesting essential oils is usually not recommended as some of them can have toxic effects if not introduced in the correct amount. Besides, the properties of essential oils change once they have been processed through the digestive tract.
Another important point to remember is that some essential oils can interact negatively with pharmaceuticals. Still some experienced professionals are able to prescribe essential oil recipes that can be safely ingested.
However, it is important to remember that taking essential oils through the mouth is never safe unless prescribed and dispensed by a physician, so even if you have heard of people doing it or know of such recipes, avoid proceeding on your own.
Even though essential oils have been in use for thousands of years, their beneficial properties have been proven mainly through means of experience. Luckily, during the last few years, laboratories around the world have also started conducting scientific research on the benefits of essential oils.
Findings so far tell us that essential oils are a perfectly safe method of alternative medicine, but still caution should be taken if you are pregnant, nursing or have a severe medical condition. In the latter cases it is always best to consult with your physician before using essential oils.