Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. If you have ever enjoyed the gift of a rose, a walk by a field of lavender, or the smell of fresh cut mint, you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils provide plants with protection against predators and disease and play a role in plant pollination.
Essential oils are non water-based phytochemicals made up of volatile organic compounds. Although they are fat soluble, they do not include fatty lipids or acids found in vegetable and animal oils. Essential oils are very clean, almost crisp, to the touch and are immediately absorbed by the skin. Pure, unadulterated essential oils are translucent and range in color from crystal clear to deep blue.
Try this at home: Squeeze the peel of a ripe orange. The fragrant residue on your hand is full of essential oils.
In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and being beautifully fragrant to people, essential oils have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Modern scientific study and trends towards more holistic approaches to wellness are driving a revival and new discovery of essential oil health applications.
The chemistry of essential oils is very complex. There are hundreds of components, such as terpenes, aldehydes and esters. Because of this an essential oil can be used to help a wide variety of disorders. Lavendar has antiseptic, antibacterial, antibiotic, antidepressant, analgesic, decongestant and sedative properties. Due to their tiny molecular structure, essential oils applied to the skin can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. One must use caution with all essential oils, some may be toxic.
Essential Oils also reach the bloodstream as a result of the oils themselves being inhaled. When inhaled, they pass through the tiny air sacs to the surrounding blood capillaries by the process of diffusion. Once in the bloodstream the aromatic molecules interact with the body's chemistry. Aside from their medicinal properties, smelling an essential oil can uplift the spirits, making you feel better. Our sense of smell is interrelated with the limbic system, an area of the brain which is primarily concerned with emotion and memory. This influence of aromas on our psyches has led many aromatherapists to practice a form of aromatherapy called 'psycho-aromatherapy', using essential oils to enhance the moods and emotions.
Holistic wellness has long been concerned with looking at the causes and prevention of illness rather than fixing the symptoms. With holistic wellness we take responsibility for our own health. The use aromatherapy should be in conjunction a healthy diet, lifestyle and exercise. Aromatherapy can be used in conjunction with most other forms of treatment including psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, medical herbalism and orthodox medicine. The use of aromatherapy as a stress reducer is most common, and with so many wonderful essential oils to choose from everyone can benefit.
An aromatherapy massage can help to balance one emotionally while also aiding in loosening tight muscles. In enabling a person to deeply relax and let go of their worries, if only for a short time, is powerful enough to activate the body's self-healing ability. Combining the physical and emotional effects of massage with the therapeutic properties of essential oils reduce stress and improves one's mood. Essential oils can be helpful for women problems.and menopausal distress.
Essential oils can help with moderate anxiety and depression, insomnia, sexual difficulties, digestive disorders, headaches and muscle aches and pains. Many essential oils are wonderful for skin care. They balance sebum (the skin's natural oil secretion) and help to tone the complexion in supporting capillary function. Essential oils can be used in hair and scalp products to improve the circulation of the scalp, to prevent dandruff and promote healthy new hair growth. Directly applied essential oils can hinder many minor skin problems.. Steam or direct inhalation of essential oils can help reduce cold and flu symptoms.