Essential Oils ….are the volatile plant essences, in their purest most concentrated form, that have been extracted for use in aromatherapy. Oil is “essential” in that it carries the essence of the plant it was extracted from.
What’s in an Essential Oil?
Essential oils are made up of very tiny particles that enter the body either through the nose, by breathing, or through the skin where topically applied. This is why they are also called volatile oils because they evaporate or turn to gas quickly. The definition of volatile is to be vaporous.
The primary chemicals found in essential oils are: Terpenes, alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, & phenols.
Essential oils with similar beneficial properties and attributes are combined to make a synergy to support a particular condition.
How Essential Oils Work: When you breathe in the aroma of an essential oil, the molecules of the oil stimulate receptor cells in your nose. These receptors then transmit information to an area of the brain known as the Limbic system. This system is responsible for managing your emotions, hormones and senses. Molecules also are absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs.
When applied topically, the molecular structure of the essential oil is very small so it easily passes through your skin and into your bloodstream. The beneficial properties of the oil then enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body affecting their beneficial results. Some oils are absorbed more readily than others because each volatile oil is different in chemical makeup and particle size. Their uses include:
- Promotes feelings of peace and joy
- Positively affects mood with energizing and refreshing properties
- Promoting relaxation and restful sleep
- may help to support the health of the lungs and Respiratory tract
- For environmental or seasonal threats
- Promotes circulation
- Relaxing occasional minor muscle tension
- Relieving head tension
- Aiding digestion
- Soothes monthly discomfort associated with menstrual cramps
- Promoting skin health
- Helps balance hormones
- Helps ward off insects
- Supports the immune system
- Supports healthy inflammatory reactions
- That’s a long list of good things!
Epileptics and those with high blood pressure should use caution with hyssop, fennel, basil, wintergreen/birch, nutmeg, rosemary, peppermint, sage, tarragon, and tansy oils.
People with sensitvities should test a small amount of oil on an area of sensitive skin, such as the inside of the upper arm, for 30 minutes, before applying the oil on other areas.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood