Essential OilsShow Filters
Essential Oils have been around as long as human civilisation itself. Though debatable the origins can somehow be traced back to ancient Egypt where Aromatic Oils have been used as early as 4500 BC in cosmetics and ointments. Plants such as fennel, coriander seeds, cumin and many others have been found at the sites of ancient burial grounds.
Since Modern Science approved of certain health benefits that these precious oils carry, followed by the widespread demand and application of essential oils, the size of global essential oils market rose to USD 17.2 billion in 2019. So what basically are these Essential Oils? And are they really Effective? Let’s find out.
What are Essential Oils
Essential oils are liquid extracts of various potentially beneficial plants. The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence.” Most Notable way of extracting Essential Oils from plant compounds are –
- Steam or Water Distillation – This process passes water or hot steam through the plants, pulling the essential compounds away from the plant matter.
- Expression – This process works by mechanically pressing or squeezing plant matter to cause it to release essential juices or oils
Essential oils often have a much stronger smell than the plants they come from and contain higher levels of active ingredients. As an example, about 220 pounds of lavender flowers are needed to produce a pound of lavender oil.
Types of Essential Oils
Depending on the source of extraction, aroma, lasting effect & plant part used. Essential Oils can be differentiated into 2 groups, namely –
- Aroma Based
- Top Note – Top Note contain the most volatile and delicate substances. They are derived from the flowers and leaves of the plant and tend to have scents that are considered light and refreshing as well as uplifting for the mood. Their aromas tend to last less amount of time compared to the other two notes. Example – Sweet Orange Oil, Peppermint Oil, Clary Sage Oil, Basil Oil, Eucalyptus Oil
- Middle Note – These oils are extracted from the herbs and spices of the plant and the aroma takes a while to work its magic. Their aromas are often considered warm and relaxing rather than the energizing and stimulating fragrances of top note essential oils. Example – Chamomile Oil, Rosemary Oil, Lavender Oil, Geranium Oil.
- Base Note – These are of the most earthy quality and possess a strong aroma that lingers on for hours. Usually, such oils are extracted from the gums and resins of the trees. They are also amongst the most expensive essential oils. Eg. Vanilla Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Frankincense Oil, Ylang Ylang Oil, Rose Oil
- Category Based
- Citrus – All the fruit based smells can be grouped into the citrus category like – Lemon, Lime, Orange, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Tangerine.
- Floral – All the flower based smells can be grouped into the floral category like – Chamomile, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Rose
- Spicy – All the herb based smells can be grouped into the spicy category like – Aniseed, Black pepper, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Ginger, Nutmeg
- Woody/ Earthy – All the Foresty & Nutty based smells can be grouped into this category like – Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Cypress, Juniper berry, Pine, Sandalwood, Angelica, Patchouli, Valerian, Vetiver.
- Camphoraceous – All the medicine based smells can be grouped into this category like – Cajuput, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tea tree
Health Benefits of Essential Oils
Despite their widespread use, little is known about the ability of essential oils to treat certain health conditions. When we talk about applications of essential oils – Aromatherapy is a line of medicine that always pops up, which uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health.
Aromatherapy is thought of as both an art and a science.
With around 100+ essential oils on the market — each with its own purported healing qualities — there’s a so-called “cure” for practically everything. Lavender, sandalwood and bergamot are popular essential oils for stress relief. Varieties like ylang-ylang and jasmine are reputed to boost libido. Some, like lemon oil, are believed to address a laundry list of conditions: morning sickness, pain and acne, to name a few.
When combined looking at their healing properties and applied with help of carrier oils, essential oils have the potential to treat many conditions, including: Asthma, insomnia, fatigue, depression, inflammation, peripheral neuropathy, menstrual issues, alopecia, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, menopause etc.
How to choose right essential Oils
Whenever considering purchase of Essential oil be aware of the condition you want to treat. If its Skin or hair related – Lavender, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Sandalwood are good options. If its Mood or Relaxation related – Orange, Lavender, Peppermint, Lemongrass are good fits, or if it is health related like Cold & Cough then Eucalyptus, Cajaput, Rosemary etc. best suited.
Since this whole market isn’t entirely regulated it is really hard to spot a quality product, and it becomes alarmingly important to guard yourself against the market malpractices of adding synthetic elements into the oil that can harm your health and skin.
Shopping for essential oils is like shopping for diamonds in that you have to shop from quality vendors and they’re both precious commodities that aren’t always the real deal.
So How to tell when an oil is high quality?? There are certain methods which you can use to help you find just the right quality material. These are –
- Look for mention of Botanical Name & Extraction Process
- Whether your vendor has standard certifications like – GMP, ISO, GC Analysis etc.
- If its Authentic it has to be Pricy.
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, the most beneficial sets of essential oils are:
Peppermint, Lavender, Tea Tree, Orange Oil, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Rosemary.
Safety & Side Effects
Most essential oils are safe to use. But there are some precautions you should take when using them, as well as side effects you should be aware of, especially if you take any prescription medications. Don’t apply essential oils directly to your skin. Always use a carrier oil to dilute the oils. Remember to do a skin patch test before using essential oils. Since citrus essential oils may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, these oils should be avoided if you’ll be exposed to sunlight.
Some Side Affects of essential Oils include – rashes, headaches, allergic reactions, skin irritation, nausea. In such cases discontinue the use and contact doctor if necessary.
As you explore the uses of essential oils, pay attention to how the different oils and methods of use affect you.
Remember that aromatherapy is meant to be a complementary therapy. It’s not meant to replace any doctor-approved treatment plan.