The next time you walk into a spa take a few minutes to enjoy the soothing music playing in the background and the faint smell of lavender drifting through the air. What you are smelling are the aromas of essential oils – it’s real lavender, not the fake aroma chemicals from your typical office air freshener dispenser.
We have all heard of essential oils, but not many know exactly what they are. These natural substances are often used in health and wellness, such as aromatherapy, and act as a form of alternative medicine.
With all the information overload about essential oils and their health claims, it can make one’s head spin. There have been many articles written recently by amateurs without any experience in the subject with outrageous claims of various healing properties of essential oils, most of them unsupported by science, and used only as a marketing ploy.
What Are Essential Oils?
Not to bore you with the details, but these emollients are extracts of various plants. It is called an “essence” because the specific extraction process keeps the flavor and the scent intact, without adulterating it. They are derived through several processes, like distillation, using either water or steam, solvent extraction, CO2 extraction, maceration, enfleurage, or microwave “dry” distillation. One of the best do-it-at-home ways to preserve the “essence” of the plant is through cold-press extraction, where whole plant or fruit is mechanically pressed to squeeze out the juice and the oil.
Once these compounds have been removed and separated from the source, if stored on their own they can be too strong to use directly and may also cause more harm than good. This is why most “essences” are added to a safe carrier oil in a pure form, such as olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba, avocado, argan, sweet almond and grapeseed, to name a few.
A lot of essential oils are not meant to be taken orally. Some users have reported positive effects from using them internally, though. At any rate, the oil will display on its label if it is for oral or external use only (which you should always respect).
We have a list below of some of the more popular essential oils and their application. Some have positive results in treating a few common health conditions such as an upset stomach or constipation.
Using Essential Oils
Peppermint oil contains a common component known as “menthol” which is used in many topical formats like creams and solutions to treat various conditions, from muscle pain, commonly used by athletes and in sports, to bad breath. Peppermint oil has a numbing effect once applied to an affected area. It can also be used as a mild pain-relieving substance for those who are suffering from the pain of any part of the body.
You can inhale it through a diffuser or apply it directly to the area after you have mixed it with a carrier oil or cream. For constipation, you can apply it to your stomach and it will help ease the symptoms, whilst relaxing the abdominal muscles.
Peppermint oil can also help you beat snoring and having a better-quality sleep.
Ginger oil is a very common and helps those dealing with digestive issues, nausea, and constipation. It has a distinct warm and spicy aroma. Ginger oil has also been used to help ease the following conditions: arthritis, colds and migraines.
Fennel oil is used in food and drinks, from cooking supplement to an important ingredient in healthy treats for kids. It is a flavorful product that has been around for centuries. As a tea it is used to relieve stomach issues such as upset stomach or constipation. Blends of fennel, aniseed and cumin have become very popular as an herbal tea in Europe, and are drank after meals to aid digestion.
Studies have also revealed it contains laxative properties. The MOXE blog also mentions fennel oil as a laxative and notes that it acts to reduce spasming and increase motility in the digestive tract.
Rosemary oil also acts to kick-starts the digestive system, providing relief after a bad meal or a spicy chutney. When you get blocked up, this can help in similar ways to peppermint, allowing for easier bowel movements. When inhaled it can bring relief from nausea and headaches, too.