Essential Oils 101
Essential oils are versatile natural products that can be used throughout your home, and many are purported to have medicinal properties.
Essential oils are versatile natural products that can be used throughout your home, and many are purported to have medicinal properties. Essential oils (EOs) are derived from plants, such as lavender, tea tree, ylang ylang and roses. Components from these plants are processed to extract their essential flavors and scents, which are then blended with a carrier, or base oil, for use. Natural extraction processes, such as cold pressing and distillation using water or steam, ensure synthetic chemicals are not used, thereby delivering a higher level of purity.
In addition to essential oils’ use in cosmetics, some are believed to possess health benefits, including antimicrobial properties, when inhaled or applied topically. Aromatherapy, which utilizes essential oils and oil blends to promote well-being through olfactory senses, has shown positive physiological impacts on the human body.
If you are interested in trying an essential oil-based product, like any substance you expose yourself to for the first time, it is important to read labels, ask for advice from your doctor as needed and test new products in small amounts.
Many essential oils have been used for thousands of years and are very rarely dangerous or toxic when used properly; however, they should never be ingested. In fact, people who incorporate essential oils into their health, beauty or home care routines are often looking to replace potentially toxic synthetic chemicals with plant-based alternatives.
Simply put, synthetic fragrance oils, or FOs, can cause rash, dry skin, headaches, hyperpigmentation, coughing and vomiting. Additionally, there is a growing body of research around more serious health effects, including a study by the Environmental Protection Agency that reported that synthetic fragrances were shown to cause “possible mutagenic and by implication genotoxic effects.”
How Aromatherapy Works
The use of essential oils via aromatherapy can help to ease a range of health and wellness issues. Some of the most popular EOs and their potential benefits are:
- Peppermint: boosts energy and helps with digestion
- Lavender: relieves stress and sanitizes
- Sandalwood: calms nerves and enhances focus
- Bergamot: reduces stress and eases eczema
- Rose: reduces anxiety
- Chamomile: relaxes
- Ylang-Ylang: soothes headaches and nausea
- Tea Tree: fights infections and boosts immunity
- Lemon: aids in digestion, headaches, and more
Aromatherapy works by stimulating your body’s limbic system, which is an ancient part of your brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviors, sense of smell, and long-term memory. In fact, the limbic system is heavily involved in forming memories. This likely explains why smells can trigger earlier memories or emotions.
The limbic system also plays a role in controlling bodily functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. As such, some people claim that essential oils work through the limbic system to have an impact on these functions.
It is important to note that essential oil products are not classified or approved by the FDA as medicines; however, these products meet safety requirements for sale and use as directed on product labels as are other personal care products.
We think it’s fair to say that essential oils can be a complement or an aide to feeling well, and they are an effective and likely less harmful way to add scents to household and personal care products.
Below are a few of the EO-infused products you can find on ziggie: