Essential oils are derived from various natural substances, such as leaves, flowers, and bark. They have a variety of uses in the realm of natural medicine, self-care, and even household cleaning.
Soothing Your Senses: Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
Since the oils carry the scent of the substances they were created from, they are most commonly used in aromatherapy. The idea is that scent plays an active role in the ability to relax, think positively and have a healthy mindset. Have you ever experienced picking up on a particular scent and having it trigger an intense memory? This is because your sense of smell is closely tied to the limbic system in your brain, which is also used to control your emotions and long-term memory.
While more studies are needed to determine how it all works, many holistic practitioners believe in the power of aromatherapy.
Some examples include:
- Chamomile for reducing anxiety and helping you sleep at night.
- Jasmine for depression and low sex drive.
- Sandalwood to improve focus and a calm a scattered mind.
- Lemon to reduce headaches.
If you want to use oils for aromatherapy, there are a variety of ways to do so. You can use a diffuser, which releases small amounts of the scent into the surrounding environment. You can also add the oils to your bathwater, rub a small amount on a piece of jewelry or sometimes even apply them directly to your skin. However, it’s important to research carefully before using essential oils on your body. Many oils are toxic, and some are not meant to be consumed. You can apply most oils topically, but you’ll need to mix them with a carrier oil first. This dilutes the oil and reduces the chance of irritation to the skin. Favorite carrier oils include jojoba or grapeseed oil, both of which are beneficial for the skin.
Purifying Your Home: Essential Oils and Cleaning
Another widespread use for essential oils is cleaning and sanitizing. Certain oils, such as peppermint and tea tree, have antimicrobial applications. They can be used to create your plant-based cleaning mixtures for your home. You can also add them to laundry detergent to create a fresh scent.
When choosing essential oils, be sure to find a brand you can trust. Essential oils are still an unregulated market, which makes it hard to know what you’re indeed getting when you make a purchase. A label might claim that the oil is pure, but you’ll want to look at the ingredients before you make a decision. A pure oil will generally list the herb or plant compound as the main ingredient versus listing a carrier oil first. As far as processing goes, you’ll want to choose fats that have been created with a cold mechanical press or a distillation process.
For more information on essential oils and their uses, see the Pure Path essential oils guide.