“I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing.” ― Vannoy Gentles Fite. Many people ridicule the use of essential oils.
Right now, research has not found evidence that aromatherapy or essential oil treatment can cure any illnesses. But what if you find specific essential oils that relieve a condition or pain, or an essence that just makes you feel good? Doctors are quick to prescribe drugs — not to cure but to relieve. Sales of essential oils to U.S. consumers totaled $1 billion in 2019, with expected growth by 2022 to exceed $11 billion. All those people could not have been wrong.
My Hot Mess Press colleague, Judy Dudich, recently posted an article about fennel essential oil, known for being a go-to treatment for digestive issues. When combined with lavender oil, it relieves stress and anxiety. Another friend swears by a few drops of lavender oil on her pillow for the best sleep ever. If someone suggests using peppermint essential oil for nausea, I will try that before taking drugs.
What is an essential oil?
Essential oils are extracted from plants, roots, seeds, leaves and flowers by applying pressure or steam. The essence of the plant is in the oil. From there, the qualifier “essential.” You can use them aromatically, topically and internally.
The aromatic use of essential oils
There is a reason for saying, “fragrance is the substance of memories.” Of all our senses, smell is the only one directly linked to the brain’s limbic part. It takes no longer than 22 seconds for the oil’s aroma to travel from the nasal cavity to the brain. The limbic area of the brain is like the busiest U.S. airport. Fragrances of all kinds come to land, and our magnificent brains dispatch the appropriate responses.
The limbic area controls breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, hormone balance, memory and stress levels. Therefore, essential oils directly affect the psychological and physiological functions of the brain. Here’s what many people don’t consider. No medication from a doctor can reach the limbic “airport.” So what does your doctor do to treat your panic attacks, anxiety and depression? It’s simple, he prescribes all kinds of drugs to treat the symptoms and not the problem (and have you come back for more and more and more.)
Studies underway for essential oil as a treatment for brain injuries
When studying Frankincense and Sandalwood essential oils, researchers learned that breathing in their aromas increased the brain’s oxygen levels by as much as 28%. The increased oxygen levels significantly affect immune functions, emotions and learning abilities. Scents also play essential roles in memory recall. Medicinal evaluations are underway to evaluate the potential use of essential oils in the recovery of brain injuries.
The molecular structure of essential oils allows quick absorption by the skin. When applying essential oils to your skin, you can almost see them disappearing into your body. The oils take only two or three minutes to reach your bloodstream. Within 20 minutes, it reaches every cell of your body. However, you might need more frequent application than you would dose medicines because the oil metabolizes within about 2 ½ hours.
You can apply most oils directly to the skin area that needs treatment. For example, tap drops of Peppermint oil to the back of your neck, your temples and forehead. It helps to relieve a headache. Put lavender oil directly onto a burned finger and apply other oils to your back in the area where you have pain. However, it is always wise to test new oils on a small skin patch to avoid unwanted reactions.
You can use essential oils internally
Many people use essential oil in food merely for flavor. However, adding a few drops to a glass of water or a beverage could relieve specific conditions. Importantly, note that heat breaks down all the oil’s therapeutic properties. So adding it to hot coffee, tea or food should be for flavor and not therapeutic. Also, never add drops of lemon oil to water or another beverage in a Styrofoam and plastic cup. Citrus breaks down those materials, so use glass, stainless steel or ceramic.
Another important note about lemon oil — it is excellent for your skin but take care. Citrus oils are photosensitive and react to sunlight. Therefore, reap the benefits of citrus oil for your skin, but avoid prolonged periods in direct sunlight for about 12 hours after application.
Never put essential oil directly into your ears or eyes. If a drop lands in your eye, DO NOT clean it with water. Use a dab of a fatty oil like coconut, grapeseed or olive oil on the outside area of the eye as carrier. Do the same to treat ears, the carrier will help stop the burning in seconds.
Dilute essential oils with fatty oils whenever you use it on toddlers, babies and pets. Again, do a skin test before using unfamiliar essential oils.