Introduction to Essential OIls
What Are Essential Oils? Do Essential OIls Work?and How? How to Use Essential OIls
Let's start with what essential oils are.
They are natural oils extracted from the flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, bark or roots of plants.
The oils are usually steam-distilled. They can also be extracted using solvents (these are technically absolutes) or cold pressed.
They are called essential because they contain the "quintessence" of the plant.
So, why do plants make these amazing oils? They are a vital part of the plant's survival. They coat the leaves to protect against bacteria, fungi and even viruses, as well as excessive drying out. The smells can attract pollinators and repel browsers.
One thing we can all agree on is that Essential Oils smell wonderful.
Do Essential Oils Work?
This is a hotly debated subject. Some people are so convinced by the healthy benefits of essential oils that they use nothing else for medicine, cleaning products or personal care. Some people want to stick with things made by scientists and dismiss essential oils as old wives' tales.
The thing about old wives' tales is that they have stuck around all these years for a reason ( after all, would you use something again if it didn't work? or recommend it to a friend?)
There are some 200,000 clinical tests on essential oils (finished or ongoing) that tell us why those old wives weren't wrong.
Why do Essential Oils Work?
The chemicals the plants use to keep themselves healthy and safe can also work for us.The distillation process used to extract essential oils concentrates these beneficial properties to such an extent that we need only need to use tiny amounts.
Essential Oil molecules are minute, so small there are 40, million, trillion molecules in one single drop! This means they can travel where most man made medicines can't.
Essential oils are lipid-soluble (dissolve in fat) which means they can pass through our cell walls and get to work immediately.
Our sense of smell is more powerful than we realize as we mostly rely on our sight. but just think how a smell can evoke a strong memory.
This is because our sense of smell is directly linked to the limbic area of the brain which controls emotions.
There's masses more on the science of essential oils. I'll go into more depth in a later post.
All essential oils do more than one thing and most conditions can be helped by more than one oil, so find the one with the scent you like best.
How to use essential oils.
My favourite way is to put a few drops in my bath. If you're not a bath person there are a couple of ways to use essential oils in the shower - you can put a few drops on your flannel or a couple of drops (diluted in a carrier oil) on your chest before you get in, even a drop on the edge where it won't get washed away immediately gives a nice scent.
You can use a diffuser or (diluted in water) in an oil burner, if you don't have either of these, you can put a drop on some cotton wool balls and put them in the corners of your room.
Dilute with natural plant seed oils for a lovely body oil, nourishing and moisturising. great for massage
Cupping is when you rub a drop or two between your palms (dilution is always recommended when applying to skin), cup your hands round your nose and mouth and breathe deeply a few times.
Inhale straight from the bottle
Rub into the soles of your feet (dilution is always recommended when applying to skin) because your palms and soles of the feet have less sebum they absorb essential oils even faster.
You can add them to your cleaning products for a lovely smelling home.
Make a warm compress by putting a few drops of essential oils into a bowl of warm water and soaking a cloth in it. Wring the cloth out and place it on the affected area. ( can be helpful for bruises and muscle strain).