Essential oils are concentrated extracts of various plants. Practitioners use them in natural and alternative health practices, such as aromatherapy and naturopathy.
Essential oils often have a much stronger smell than the plants they come from and contain higher levels of active ingredients. This has to do with the amount of plant matter required to make essential oil.
There are different ways that manufacturers extract the essential oils, including:
- Steam or water distillation. This process passes water or hot steam through the plants, pulling the essential compounds away from the plant matter.
- Cold pressing. This process works by mechanically pressing or squeezing plant matter to cause it to release essential juices or oils. A simple example of this would be smelling the fresh scent of lemon after squeezing or zesting a lemon peel.
After extracting the active compounds from the plant matter, some manufacturers may add them to a carrier oil to get more product from the same amount of essential oil. These products would no longer be pure essential oils, but a mixture.
“I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing.” Vannoy Gentles Fite, Essential Oils for Healing: Over 400 All-Natural Recipes for Everyday Ailments
Manufacturers use essential oils to create a range of products. The cosmetic and makeup industry use essential oils to create perfumes, add fragrance to creams and body washes, and even as sources of natural antioxidants in some beauty care products.
Many natural medicine practitioners, such as aromatherapists, use essential oils. Aromatherapy involves diffusing these essential oils into the air.
Aromatherapists believe that breathing in essential oils might allow them to enter the lungs and bloodstream, where some of the potentially helpful compounds may benefit the body.
Anyone who has used a mentholated vapor rub to help clear their sinuses has used a form of aromatherapy. As the authors of a 2013 study note, inhaling menthol in this way can reduce feelings of congestion and shortness of breath.
As well as inhaling them, adding essential oils to a carrier oil and massaging them into the skin may also deliver the active compounds to the body.
People should never apply essential oils directly to the skin without diluting them, unless under the direct guidance of a healthcare professional.
It is also dangerous to swallow essential oils. Not only are essential oils extremely concentrated, but they can also irritate the sensitive cells inside the body.
In rare cases, some people might take oral capsules containing essential oils. However, people should only do this under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Typically, however, a person should not put regular commercial essential oils anywhere near their mouth or other places where it may enter the body, such as the eyes, ear, anus, or vagina.
Are essential oils effective?
Some essential oils can be effective, depending on what a person uses them for.
There is a range of plants that contain potentially active compounds. Manufacturers have turned dozens of these plant oils into essential oil products. Some of the most popular essential oils include:
- tea tree
- sweet orange
The compounds in these oils may have some health effects on the human body.
Essential oils are the liquid extracts of potentially beneficial plants. People are beginning to use essential oils widely for a variety of common conditions, and some research shows they may help relieve symptoms in some cases.
Essential oils are generally safe when a person uses them correctly. Always dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin and never ingest them.
Source : medicalnewstoday.com