Essential oils are all the rage online these days. Bloggers everywhere claim their benefits and odd uses but is this really what Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know? What’s the truth behind essential oils? Do they help? Do they harm? Are they just useless placebos? Are there real health benefits?
Essential oils are also known as volatile oils because they evaporate quickly after they come in contact with oxygen. Essential oils are obtained by water or steam distillation, or by cold pressing (for citrus peel oils). Through this process, the oils inside a plant can be extracted into a highly concentrated form. Oils that are made with chemical processes are not considered true essential oils. Because different essential oils come from different plants, the resulting effectiveness tends to change from plant to plant.
Do Essential Oils help?
There is overwhelming evidence that some essential oils are beneficial. The calming effects of lavender are well known. Adding a just a few drops of lavender to your pillow at night will certainly help you sleep. One of my favorite things is a soak in the tub with a lavender bath bomb shortly before bed. Adding a few drops to a diffuser near the bed will help as well.
Combining essential oils with carrier oils such as waxes, butters, alcohols, or other diluting substances allows you to use the essential oils on your skin. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute the oils, you may end up with an unfortunate reaction (and unhappy skin). Many products such as salt and sugar scrubs use coconut oils or shea butter as a carrier and provide real benefits to keep your skin healthy and happy.
Many people suggest using essential oils for other things around the home. Such using lemon oil to remove permanent marker, or Thieves essential oils when making homemade cleaning products. Since these products don’t contain harsh chemicals, and provide excellent cleaning properties, they are much better for the environment and your home
Do they harm? Are they just useless placebos? Are there real health benefits?
The jury is out on this one for a number of reasons. The pharmaceutical industry uses a number of essential oils in medications however, since the oils are a naturally occurring things, the scientific community hasn’t dedicated much research to their uses on humans. For the most part, it is safe to say that many essential oils should not be ingested with foods or as a capsule. Most essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin and should only be used with a carrier.