Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used medicinally in history. Medical applications proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to remedies for cancer and often are based solely on historical accounts of use of essential oils for these purposes. Claims for the efficacy of medical treatments, and treatment of cancers in particular, are now subject to regulation in most countries.

Pure essential oils have an immediate impact on our sense of smell. When essential oils are inhaled, olfactory receptor cells are stimulated and the impulse is transmitted to the emotional center of the brain, i.e. limbic system. These oils are also called fragrance oils or perfume oils. The limbic system is connected to areas of the brain linked to memory, breathing and blood circulation as well as the endocrine glands which regulate hormone levels in the body. The properties of the oil, the fragrance and its effects determine stimulation of these systems. When used in massage, essential oils are not only inhaled, but absorbed through the skin as well. They penetrate the tissues and find their way into the bloodstream where they are transported to the organs and systems of the body.

Essential oils are derived from grasses, buds, peels, branches, needles, bark, leaves, seeds, berries, flowers, roots, fruits, woods, herbs, spices. Carriers, which carry the essential oils throughout the body and bloodstream are oils are derived from nuts, plants, fruit kernels, beeswax, flowers, flower seeds, fruit seeds, plant seeds, vegetables, herbs. These have thicker consistency so that they can carry the essential oils throughout the body. Aromatherapy promotes health of body, peacefulness of mind, helps the negative emotions to rest and by working in conjunction with the olfactory system, helps a person get in touch with their true selves.

Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile and aromatic compounds extracted from various parts of plants and herb leaves, flowers, seeds, bark etc. They are thereby also popularly called volatile oils. Essential oils mix with water even less than traditional oils do a property which can be used to test their purity.

Essential oils are the natural aromatic oils that are extracted from plants. Technically they are not oils at all but complex mixtures of organic compounds that exist within the cells of the plant. Each oil is derived from a single plant source and depending on the species is extracted from the flower petals, leaves, stems, roots, rind of the fruit, seeds, or even the wood of trees. It is likely these compounds have evolved over time to aid the plants in survival by providing resistance to disease or by attracting pollinating insects with their fragrance.
Steam Distillation is the most widespread way of deriving essential oils. One method of direct distillation is where the steam distillatory is loaded with raw vegetative material. Steam is then forced into the distillatory and elements of the raw vegetative material mix with the steam. This mix condenses into water on the surface of which floats the essential oil. The essential oil is then separated from the water.

Essential oils can have a lot of types and classifications depending on their chemical nature or from which part of the plant have they have been extracted from. A popular way of classifying them is the latter parts of plants and herbs. For example, Nutmeg oil, almond oil and cumin oil come from seeds, cinnamon oil from the bark, and a host of oils including peppermint, eucalyptus and basil come from the leaves of plants. Other parts which can be used include flowers (clove, rose, jasmine), fruit peels (lemon, lime, orange) and berries (juniper).

The uses of essential oils are wide ranged. They are sometimes used as single oils and sometimes with other oils in a proportionate blend, depending on the beneficial characteristics of the constituents, purpose to be served and user experiences sought. There are usually three methods that explain the correct way to use essential oils, which are internal intake in the form of dietary supplements, aromatic diffusion and topical application.

Essential oils have a wide range of usage when we talk about their application for physical and emotional wellness. The volatile aromatic compounds of these oils are usually found in stems, barks, seeds, peels, flowers and various other parts of a plant. These oils have their own distinctive use, smell and functions and play the role of safeguarding the plants, apart from playing an important function in the pollination process. Traditionally, essential oils have been used for preparation of food, in beauty procedures and various practices regarding healthcare.

Essential oils are gaining acceptance as a leading choice in home care. Many chiropractors value essential oils with amazing results in chiropractic treatments. Scents that activate the brain’s emotional centre and redefining psychology. Practitioners of traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine have valued essential oils for thousands of years. More and more medical doctors are valuing the clinical benefits of essential oils. Aromatherapy is now being used as an adjunct to core professions such as nursing, geriatrics, rehabilitation work, counseling, and physiotherapy. Used with naturopaths, hospice, hospitals, Special Needs, working in the travel leisure industry at spas, resorts, retreats and cruise ships, health centers. Aromatherapy is used in methods such as massage, sitz baths, compresses, baths, perfumes, infusions, facial care, hair care. They can be used by human and animal alike. Do not use essential oils on cats or small animals.

Essential oils can be inhaled by smelling them directly from the container or bottle. The oils can also be diffused into the air using a special device made for such purposes and once done, you can inhale the minute sized vapor particles. There are diffusers which can successfully release the aromatic benefits into the air while ensuring that the essential constituents are intact.

Essential oils are also effective through the skin. However, due to the potency of these oils, care must be taken. Massage oils using essential oils are common and can easily be made at home. Just add a few drops of the aromatherapy scents you feel would do you the most good to a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or olive oil.

When essential oils are inhaled, the particles that are unique to penetrate the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system, sometimes referred to as our “old” in the brain, is responsible for our memories and emotions. Brain, in turn, releases certain neurochemicals, causing positive changes in all parts of the body. It is best to use essential oils and treatments are only external. This is due to the high percentage of essential oils and potential irritation or damage which may cause the mucous membranes and delicate stomach lining.

The therapeutic grade and undiluted essential oils still carry the “life essences” from plants kingdom, it’s like  requesting the “deva’ and the “plants Elementals” assistance to facilitate the healing.

When using essential oils, less is often best. It is not the case that by doubling the quantity of a particular essential oil you will be doubling the effect. This is also the case for blending oils. If, for example, a particular blend says to use 30 drops of one essential oil and 26 of another, it is not the case that one is stronger than the other. Each essential oil has its own potency, so fewer drops for certain oils may be required for certain blends.

There are many cases where essential oils are more effective than antibiotics. However, in the case where an antibiotic proves more effective, the doctor still needs to weigh up the potential side effects of the antibiotic (such as its long term effects on gut flora), before deciding which treatment should be undertaken.

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