Keen practitioners of alternative medicine have relied on the power of essential oils for years. But with their increasing availability (and purported health benefits), they are becoming more widespread.
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“Essential oils are fantastic. They have many advantages”, says the specialist in integrative medicineYufang Lin, MD. "The problem is how people use them."
Here is information on 11 essential oils, their benefits, and how to best use them.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are concentrated extracts from plants.
“Plants consist of building materials and secondary plant substances. These chemicals have properties that benefit not only the plant but also humans,” explains Dr. Lin.
A large amount of plant material is required to create essential oils, which can make some of them more expensive. For example:
- About 250 pounds of lavender flowers will produce 1 pound of lavender essential oil.
- About 5,000 pounds of rose or lemon balm petals will yield 1 pound of rose or lemon balm essential oil.
"Because so much of the plant is needed to make an essential oil, it's a powerful botanical medicine," says Dr. Lin
Benefits of essential oils
Essential oils can be used in aromatherapy, a type of complementary medicine that uses scent to improve health, or applied topically to the skin.
Studies have shown that essential oils can help:
- Improves mood.
- Improve work performance with less stress and more focus.
- improve sleep
- Kills bacteria, fungi and viruses.
- Reduce anxiety and pain.
- Reduce inflammation.
- reduce nausea.
- relieve headaches.
Here are some common essential oils and their benefits:
Lavender is Dr. Lin's favorite oil “It's gentle and has many benefits. You can use it in different ways,” she says.
Try adding it to a bath or diffuser as aromatherapy, add it to water to make a room or body spray, or combine it with a carrier oil to make a body oil.
Lavender can help with stress, aches and painssleep. "Before the discovery of antiseptics, lavender was also used as a cleaning agent in hospitals," says Dr. Lin.
there was alsostudiesThese show that the use of lavender oil (and tea tree oil) can potentially disrupt hormones in children.
dr. Lin says that most people use it.Tea tree oil as an antiseptic, antimicrobial or antifungal. You can also use it to help with:
- Acne.“Take a cotton swab and dip it in tea tree essential oil. Then apply it directly to the acne; this is an exception where you don't have to dilute it," says Dr. Lin "You canhelp clear acne faster.“
- athlete's foot and ringworm."Dilute with a carrier oil (a base or vegetable oil like coconut or jojoba oil helps dilute essential oils) and apply the mixture to affected skin."
A note of caution: Because tea tree oil can be neurotoxic, Dr. Lin says you shouldn't diffuse it if you have small children or pets in the home.
Known as the "king of oils," frankincense can helpinflammation, mood and sleep. Studies have shown that it can also improve asthma and prevent gum disease.
Frankincense oil has a woody-spicy aroma and can be used for aromatherapy and is found in skin creams. Be sure to dilute the frankincense oil before applying it to the skin.
Peppermint oil is known for:
- Being an anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antimicrobial agent..
- relieve headaches.
- Fight fatigue.
- lift your spirits
- Reduce intestinal spasms.
- help digestion.
- memory support.
"Mint tea can also calm your stomach if you have thatirritable bowel syndromeor stomach irritation,” Dr. Lin added. "It's very smooth and easy to use."
If you apply the oil topically, be sure to dilute it.
Eucalyptus is a great essential oil to have on hand during the cold season. Relieves nasal congestion by opening up your nasal passages so you can breathe easier. (Peppermint oil can also help with this.)
also canease the painand fight against itVirus del herpes simplethanks to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Take precautions when using eucalyptus oil and be sure to dilute it before applying it to the skin. It should not be ingested and can have dangerous side effects for children and pets.
Lemon oil is extracted from the zest of lemons and can be diffused into the air or applied topically to the skin with a carrier oil.
Lemon oil is known for:
- Reduce anxiety and depression.
- reduces pain.
- relieve nausea
- kill bacteria.
Alearnalso notes that aromatherapy with essential oils such as lemon oil might improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's disease.
Lemon oil is safe for aromatherapy and topical use. But there were somereportsthat lemon oil can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and increase the risk of sunburn. Avoid direct sunlight after application. These include lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, citronella, and bergamot oils.
Lemongrass oil has a strong citrus scent and is known to provide relief.stress, anguishand depression
Its antibacterial properties make it a good natural remedy for wound healing andkill bacteria. It has been shown to prevent fungal growth associated with athlete's foot, ringworm, and itch.
Alearnfound that the use of lemongrass oil may help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
Make sure you use a carrier oil before applying it to your skin.
Orange oil is extracted from the peel of citrus fruits. It can be diffused into the air, applied topically to the skin (with a carrier oil), or even used as a natural cleanser at home.
Orange oil is known for:
- kill bacteria.
- Reduce anxiety.
- reduces pain.
Orange oil has the potential to make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so be careful when using it on your skin and then going outside.
You have probably chosen rosemary to add flavor to some of your recipes. But using rosemary oil also has some additional benefits like improvingbrain function, promotes hair growth, reduces pain and stress, elevates and lowers your moodjoint inflammation.
Rosemary oil is safe to use in aromatherapy and topically on the skin with a carrier oil. If you are pregnant or suffer from epilepsy or high blood pressure, it is recommended to avoid using rosemary oil.
What is bergamot? If you are a fan of Earl Gray tea, then you have drunk bergamot. The oil, which has a fruity, floral scent, can be diffused with a carrier oil or applied topically (but it can make skin sensitive to the sun).
Bergamot oil is known for:
- Reduce anxiety.
- cheer up.
- Low blood pressure.
Cedarwood oil, which has antioxidant and antibacterial properties, is a popular ingredient in insect repellents, shampoos, and deodorants with its woody scent. But you can also help yourself with cedar oilsleepYdistress.
You can use cedarwood oil for aromatherapy as well as a topical treatment mixed with a carrier oil.
How to use essential oils
Because essential oils are so powerful, Dr. Lin needs you to pay attention to why and how you use them. Only small amounts are used, usually just a few drops.
"It's also a good idea not to use them routinely, as your body can get used to them and decrease their effectiveness," she says.
Here are some ways you can use essential oils:
You can diffuse essential oils, which is a type of aromatherapy.
"It's a great way to quickly change your mood. When inhaled, the aroma of the oil immediately stimulates the central nervous system and triggers an emotional response," explains Dr. Lin "It can quickly reduce anxiety and stress responses ".
Mix essential oils and water in an essential oil diffuser and turn on the magic. A diffuser is a device that disperses small oil particles throughout the room for you to inhale. Follow your diffuser's instructions for the correct ratio of oil to water.
There are several other methods of aromatherapy. "Whichever method you choose, avoid direct contact with the essential oil and dilute it first," says Dr. Lin.
Other aromatherapy methods include:
- The old way.Inhale the aroma deeply after opening the bottle.
- dry evaporation.Place a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and smell the aroma as it diffuses.
- steam inhalationAdd a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water. Place your head over the bowl, a towel over your head, and breathe in the steam.
One caveat is that aromatherapy may not work as well for older adults with dementia or behavioral problems, notes Dr. Fitted. This may be because people tend to lose their sense of smell as they get older.
Roll directly on your skin
You can also reap the benefits by applying essential oils to the skin where they are absorbed into the body. But dr. Lin cautions against applying most essential oils directly to the skin without diluting it.
"With a few exceptions, it's best to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil to avoid skin irritation," she says.
Some people place their essential oil blend in a small roller ball bottle for ease of use.
Some people take essential oils orally in teas, supplements, or even through a drop or two on the tongue.
"Unless directed by a trained herbalist, I advise against using them this way. Because they are so strong, they can be harmful," advises Dr. Lin "Even with just a few drops of essential oil, you are ingesting a large amount of matter vegetable without realizing it. They can even burn the lining of your mouth."
Some food recipes call for essential oil such as orange, but always double check the dosage and follow the directions carefully.
Be careful when using essential oils on children, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and the elderly.
“Some essential oils can be harmful to the liver and nervous system when used in excess. Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil have also been known to cause seizures," warns Dr. Lin. "They are also poisonous to animals."