Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor, or “essence,” of their source.Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants. The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence.” Unique aromatic compounds give each essential oil its characteristic essence. Essential oils are obtained through distillation (via steam and/or water) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing. Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are combined with a carrier oil to create a product that’s ready for use. Inhaling the aromas from essential oils can stimulate areas of your limbic system, which is a part of your brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviors, sense of smell, and long-term memory.
Health benefits of essential oils
Some of the common health problems that essential oils and aromatherapy have been used to treat.
Stress and anxiety
It has been estimated that 43% of people who have stress and anxiety use some form of alternative therapy to help relieve their symptoms.
Regarding aromatherapy, initial studies have been quite positive. The smell of some essential oils can work alongside traditional therapy to treat anxiety and stress. Interestingly, using essential oils during a massage may help relieve stress.
Headaches and migraines
In the ’90s, two small studies found that dabbing a peppermint oil and ethanol mixture on participants’ foreheads and temples relieved headache pain.
Sleep and insomnia
Smelling lavender oil has been shown to improve the sleep quality of women after childbirth, as well as patients with heart disease. The majority of studies showed that smelling the oils — mostly lavender oil — had positive effects on sleep habits.
It has been suggested that essential oils may help fight inflammatory conditions. Some test-tube studies show that they have anti-inflammatory effects.
Antibiotic and antimicrobial
The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has renewed interest in the search for other compounds that can fight bacterial infections.
Essential oils have many uses outside of aromatherapy. Many people use them to scent their homes or freshen up things like laundry. They are also used as a natural scent in homemade cosmetics and high-quality natural products.
Aromatherapy isn’t the only use for essential oils. They can be used in and around the home, as a natural mosquito repellent, or industrially to make cosmetics.