Are Essential Oils Worth It? What Are They Good For?

White and Purple Flower Plant on Brown Wooden Surface

Essential oils are fragrant extracts derived from various plants and are mainly used in the alternative medicine practice known as aromatherapy. Different types of plants or plant parts are used to create essential oils. The process for extracting the oils can involve either distilling the plant material or putting it through a cold press.

The oil that is extracted will contain a condensed amount of the plant’s scent. This is sometimes referred to as the plant’s essence, hence the name essential oils.

What Are Essential Oils Used For?

A primary use of essential oils is aromatherapy. This is the practice of using different scents in order to induce a therapeutic reaction in the mind and body. Believers in aromatherapy state that certain types of essential oils will produce different effects in the body, and can be used for healing purposes.

Another use of essential oils involves making them into a body oil, cream or salve. Certain kinds of aromatic oils, when combined with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil, are thought to have a beneficial impact on the skin. They are commonly used to treat acne, burns and other skin problems.

The reason an essential oil needs to be combined with a generic carrier oil is to dilute its potency before rubbing it on your skin, otherwise, the highly concentrated EO can cause side effects that range from itching and redness to serious skin burns and pain.

Some popular essential oils and their uses are:

Lavender oil is associated with relaxation and is often used for helping with sleep.

Peppermint oil is thought to have positive effects on people with upset stomachs and may help alleviate headaches.

Lemongrass oil has been shown to have an anxiolytic effect and may have a clarifying effect on the brain.

Orange oil might help with clearing up your skin when applied topically (diluted).

Tea tree oil, also a diluted topical application, is thought to help with burns or scrapes.

All of these uses and others are subject to interpretation and debate. There has been very little clinical research to prove these claims. Some people swear by the effects of essential oils and use them continually as part of their healthy lifestyle. It is important that you research well before deciding whether using essential oils is right for you or not.

And when you do your research about this topic on the internet, be aware of the fact that many of the review websites out there that talk very favorably about essential oils aren’t as innocent or truthful as they may seem at first glance. Many of them are owned by marketers who participate in MLM (multi-level marketing) programs and who often push false information and exaggerated claims. Here’s more about this alongside a list of reputable essential oil brands available on today’s market.

How Are Essential Oils Used?

There are many different ways to use essential oils. The key thing to remember across all of these methods is that essential oils must be diluted. They are very concentrated aromatic compounds that need to be combined with water or other carrier oils before you inhale them or apply them to your skin.

Some of the most common ways to use essential oils are:

Diffusers: These are small appliances that create a light mist, similar to a humidifier. The diffuser will take water as its base and gently heat it to create a mist. You can add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice to create an aromatic experience. Just be careful with this technique, as different oils can have different effects on people. It is possible that a scent that you really enjoy will be irritating to someone else or even to your pets.

Scent Holders: If you want to use essential oils for aromatherapy but don’t have a diffuser, you can add a small amount of the oil to something that will disperse the scent. The easiest example is a cotton ball. If you put a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and leave it out, you’ll have a similar effect to the diffuser. There are also different types of personal inhalers on the market that can be used for this purpose.

Topical Oils: Combining an essential oil with a less potent plant oil will create a solution that you can apply directly to your skin. Always research the oil well to make sure that the ratio you are using of essential oil to plant oil is appropriate. Getting this wrong could cause a painful or even dangerous skin reaction.

Are Essential Oils Worth It?

Essential oils have one undisputed benefit — they can make a room smell lovely. The health impacts that each oil is said to have are not well proven and are largely based on anecdotal experiences that vary from person to person.

Everyone can experience the oils differently, so with general safety guidelines in mind, you can experiment with different oils and methods to find the ones that work for you. When you’re not sure if a certain oil or application method is safe for you or people around you, it is always best to seek the advice of a professional health practitioner.

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