Background information on essential oils, their APPLICATION and potential health benefits
Essential oils, also known as aromatic oils have been used for centuries by many different cultures around the world. Records of their uses can be traced back from the times of ancient Egypt, China, India, Greece, The Roman Empire , Persia and during the Crusades period in Europe.
The earliest evidence of human knowledge on the healing properties of plants was found in the region of Dordogne in France, where cave paintings, dating back to 18,000 B.C.E, suggest the use of medicinal plants as part of everyday life.
Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine system has a 3000-year history of incorporating essential oils into their healing potions. The Vedic literature lists over 700 substances such as ginger, cinnamon, sandalwood and myrrh as having effective healing properties.
“A PERFUMED BATH AND A SCENTED MASSAGE EVERY DAY IS A WAY TO GOOD HEALTH”.
The Greek physician Hypocrites (460-377 B.C.E) , also known as the ‘Father of Medicine’ wrote “A perfumed bath and a scented massage every day is a way to good health.” Hypocrites documented the effects of over 300 plants such as cumin, peppermint, thyme, saffron and many more.
French chemist Rene-Maurice coined the term ‘Aromatherapie’, while investigating the antiseptic properties of essential oils. In his book ‘Aromatherapie’ he writes about several cases of essential oils and their healing properties.
What does ‘essential’ mean?
The term ‘essential’ does not mean indispensable as with the terms ‘essential amino acids’ and ‘essential fatty acids’, which are nutritionally required by a living organism. An oil is ‘essential’ in the sense that it contains the ‘essence of’ the plant’s fragrance.
Generally, essential oils are extracted by distillation, often using steam. Other processes include expression, cold pressing, solvent extraction, absolute oil extraction and resin tapping.
APPLICATIONS OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are used in cosmetics, perfumes, soaps, flavoured food and drink, adding scents to household cleaning products.
Though historically they have been used medicinally, claims for the efficacy of medical treatments are subject to regulation in most countries.
The four main ways of using essential oils include:
- Externally (around the home)
The potential danger of an essential oil is relative to its grade of purity, and can also be related to the toxicity of specific chemical components in the oil.
Some oils can cause severe irritation and provoke an allergic reaction.
Moreover, the use of essential oils during pregnancy is not recommended due to lack of published evidence for their safety.
It’s important to remember that each oil has unique properties and cannot always be used in the same way as another one.
The FDA has published a list of essential oils that are Generally Recognised as Safe.
Quality of essential oils
Due to lack of clear industry standards and regulations on terms such as ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ , not all in-store products will be therapeutic.
A brand that ensures the production of high-quality essential oils should following these guidelines:
- Each plant to be grown indigenously
- Proper plant varieties
- Grown without chemical pesticides or herbicides
- Harvested at precise time to ensure peak properties
- Extracted at an appropriate temperature and pressure to ensure preservation of oil molecules
a List of essential oils, their uses and potential benefits:
Arborvitae: Supports healthy cell function, grounding, cleansing, insect repellant
Basil: Mental alertness; supports sore muscles/joints, menstrual problems
Bergamot: Skin purifying, emotional support
Birch: Supports healthy muscles/joints, skin blemishes, uplifting
Black Pepper: Antioxidant; supports healthy circulation, flavoring
Cardamom: Supports healthy digestion, respiratory health, cooking
Cassia: Supports healthy cell function, digestion, arousal
Cedarwood: Repels insects, supports healthy skin, emotional support
Chamomile, Roman: Calming, healthy immune function
Cilantro: Antioxidant, digestive aid, cleansing, healthy skin
Cinnamon Bark: Supports metabolic function, oral health, cleaning
Clary Sage: Supports healthy hormonal balance, tension relief, emotional balance
Clove: Promotes cardiovascular health, oral health, immune health
Coriander: Supports digestion, clear skin, sore joints and muscles
Cumin: Digestive health, purifying to body systems, flavoring
Cypress: Soothes muscle tension, energy, skin health
Dill: Digestive support, calming, cooking
Douglas Fir: Respiratory health, skin health
Eucalyptus: Supports healthy respiration, skin, cleansing
Fennel (Sweet): Promotes healthy digestion, metabolism, circulation
Fir, White: Muscles, joints, respiratory support, empowering
Frankincense: Supports healthy cellular health, skin, emotional balance
Geranium: Healthy skin and hair, calming, insect repellant
Ginger: Digestive support, grounding, cooking, antioxidant
Grapefruit: Cleansing, skin health, healthy metabolism, alertness
Hawaiian Sandalwood: Healthy skin, meditation
Helichrysum: Promotes healthy skin appearance, good metabolism
Jasmine: Skin health, balanced mood
Juniper Berry: Kidney/urinary function, healthy skin appearance/toner, cleansing, stress relief
Lavender: Universal oil. Calming, skin health and recovery, flavoring
Lemon: For increasing energy, digestive and respiratory support, cleaning
Lemongrass: Healthy digestion, supports muscles and joints, skin complexion, insects repellent
Lime: Cleans, detoxifies, energizes, healthy immune function
Marjoram: Emotional support, muscular support, cardiovascular function
Melaleuca (Tea Tree): Cleansing, healthy immune function, skin complexion
Melissa (Lemon Balm): Supports healthy immune function, tension relief
Myrrh: Cleansing, skin complexion, emotional balance
Orange: Emotional balance, overall health, cleansing/purifying, antioxidants
Oregano: Powerful cleansing agent, healthy immune/digestion/respiratory function
Patchouli: Supports skin health/complexion, grounding, tension relief
Peppermint: Wonderful for digestive/respiratory function, energy, cooling
Roman Chamomile: Calming, healthy immune function
Rose: Promotes skin health/complexion, emotional balance
Rosemary: Promotes healthy digestion, respiratory function, healthy hair/scalp
Sandalwood: Skin health, calming, grounding
Sandalwood, Hawaiian: Healthy skin, meditation
Spearmint: Promotes digestive health, oral health
Tangerine: Cleansing, healthy immune system, cooking
Tea Tree (Melaleuca): Cleansing, healthy immune function, skin complexion
Thyme: Cleansing, purifying, healthy immune function, insect repellent
Vetiver: Calming, grounding, healthy immune function
White Fir: Support muscles/joints, stress, empowering
Wild Orange: Emotional balance, overall health, cleansing/purifying, antioxidants
Wintergreen: Soothes muscles/joints, skin/complexion, emotional support
Ylang Ylang: Promotes healthy skin and hair, calming
1.Essential Oil- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_oil
2. History of Essential Oils- http://healingscents.net/blogs/learn/18685859-history-of-essential-oils
3. How to Use Essential Oils with Four Application methods – http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/how-to-use-essential-oils.html