Essential oils have seen a large rise in popularity, but what are they really used for?
Essential oils have seen a large rise in popularity, but what are they really used for?

Essential Oils and Their Benefits

March 17, 2021

Have you ever wondered how essential oils are made and what they’re used for?

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants. The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence.” They obtained through distillation (via steam and/or water) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing.

Essential oils are most commonly used in the practice of aromatherapy, in which they are inhaled through various methods. 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

The limbic system also plays a role in controlling several unconscious physiological functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. As such, some people claim that essential oils can exert a physical effect on your body. However, this has yet to be confirmed in studies.

Here are the top 10 popular oils and what they do for your health:

  • Peppermint: used to boost energy and aid digestion
  • Lavender: used to relieve stress
  • Sandalwood: used to calm nerves and help with focus
  • Bergamot: used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema
  • Rose: used to improve mood and reduce anxiety
  • Chamomile: used to improve mood and relaxation
  • Ylang-Ylang: used to treat headaches, nausea, and skin conditions
  • Tea Tree: used to fight infections and boost immunity
  • Jasmine: used to help with depression and childbirth
  • Lemon: used to aid digestion, mood, headaches, and more

 

Headaches and Migraines

In the 1990s, two small studies found that dabbing a peppermint oil and ethanol mixture on participants’ foreheads and temples relieved headache pain.

Recent studies have also observed reduced headache pain after applying peppermint and lavender oil to the skin.

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.

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.

Reducing inflammation

It has been suggested that essential oils may help fight inflammatory conditions. Some test-tube studies show that they have anti-inflammatory effects.

One mouse study found that ingesting a combination of thyme and oregano essential oils helped induce the remission of colitis. Two rat studies on caraway and rosemary oils found similar results.

However, very few human studies have examined the effects of these oils on inflammatory diseases. Therefore, their effectiveness and safety are unknown.

Other uses for essential oils

Studies have shown that some oils, such as citronella, may repel certain types of mosquitoes for around 2 hours. Protection time may be extended up to 3 hours when it’s used in combination with vanilla.

*All information used was originally written by Helen West from Healthline.com*

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