Essential Oils are the chemical compounds that are extracted from the plants. These oils are termed as “Essential” as they contain the essence of the fragrance of the plant from which they are derived. Essential oil is a concentrated liquid which is hydrophobic in nature and contains volatile and aromatic compounds obtained from the plants. They are also known by the other names such as volatile oils, ethereal oils, and in simple words as oil of the plant, etc. They are extracted from the plants by certain methods such as solvent extraction, distillation, absolute oil extraction, cold pressing, etc.
These oils need to be mixed in some carrier oil. They are ‘oil loving’ or ‘lipophilic’ in nature.
Essential Oils have a wide array of uses, such as they are used in cosmetics, perfumes, soaps, as well as food and drink flavours, for adding scents to incense, beverages, confectioneries, etc.
Essential Oils can be used for various purposes as they have a number of uses. They have an impact on the mind and physiology of the individual. Now, essential oils are in great demand because people believe that the simplest prevention-oriented health tools are the best.
Pharmacological and Medicinal Uses of Some Essential Oils are
Thymol is obtained from thyme, a common spice.
- This oil acts as a strong anti-biotic, fungicide and powerful anti-oxidant as well.
- It reduces bacterial resistance to common drugs such as penicillin.
2. Eucalyptus Oil
It possesses vermin and insect controlling properties.
- It is regarded as non-toxic to humans, therefore; it is used as a primary cleaning and disinfecting agent.
3. Eugenol or Clove Oil
It is used as a popular anti-septic and anesthetics in dentistry for hundreds of years.
4. Lemongrass Oil
Lemongrass is a tropical and a grassy plant which is used in herbal medicine and cooking.
- Lemongrass essential oil is extracted from the stalks and leaves of the lemongrass plant.
- It is widely used in aromatherapy to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety.
Essential Oils can be used in a number of ways because they are beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit. When we breathe the aroma of essential oil, it travels through the nose straight to the brain, thus affects mind and body. These oils help us in keeping us cool and calm.
How Essential Oils are Useful for Overall health?
1. Massage with Essential Oils
Massage improves the muscle tone, relaxes the muscles, and improves circulation and lymph flow.
- It also relieves mental stress and physical tension.
- For massaging with essential oil, it should be diluted in a carrier oil such as vegetable oil such as sesame oil, almond oil, olive oil, etc. before applying it on the skin.
- Add 20-30 drops of essential oil to 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Essential oils that can be used for massaging are lavender oil, jojoba oil, coriander essential oil, etc.
- Apart from its relaxing effects, coriander essential oil is also known for promoting healthy digestion.
2. Foot and Hand Bath
Feet are considered as a very important area in aromatherapy because the reflex points of the feet affect every area of the body and the skin of the feet area absorbs essential oils more quickly.
- Hand baths with essential oils can be soothing for people who have problems with circulation and aching joints.
- Add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil to a bowl of water. The temperature of the water can be adjusted according to the person’s needs. Warm water relaxes and sedates the system, whereas cold water invigorates and energizes the body.
- Tea tree essential oil can be used for foot bath as it has anti-fungal properties while the lavender essential oil is known for its wound healing properties.
3. Chest Rub
Many essential oils such as rosemary, spike lavender, fir, eucalyptus, etc. are recommended to assist in respiration and to relieve congestion.
- Dilute 10-20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, rosemary essential oil or peppermint essential oil in 30 ml of carrier oil such as sesame oil, almond oil, etc. and rub on the upper chest and back.
- Over the counter vapour or chest rubs often contain eucalyptus oil to suppress a cough. Eucalyptus contains the key compound known as eucalyptol or cinelol which shows anti-inflammatory effect.
- Like eucalyptus, rosemary essential oil also contains a compound cinelol. Cinelol helps to break the mucus and also reduces inflammation.
- Peppermint essential oil relaxes the muscles of the windpipe known as bronchial muscles.
4. Steam Inhalation
In case of cold, inhale the fragrance of essential oil through the nose directly 3-4 times a day.
- Alternatively, add 3 drops of lemongrass essential oil to a bowl of hot water and cover the eyes. Place a large towel on the head and inhale the steam deeply.
- Lemongrass essential oil helps in fighting bacteria and can help to combat airborne illnesses such as common cold and flu.
5. Mouth Wash
Due to the anti-septic and anti-biotic effects of essential oil, it helps in freshening the breath and also useful in maintaining the healthy gums.
- For mouthwash, add a few drops of essential oils such as tea tree oil or lemon essential oil to a cup of water and swirl around the mouth but do not swallow.
- Tea tree oil is a great alternative to good oral health because it helps to fight against bacteria and gingivitis.
- It also eases the inflammation in the mouth and speeds up the healing process.
Mix thoroughly a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a teaspoon of honey and dilute well until the honey is dissolved.
- Use 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil in 30 ml of warm water.
- Peppermint essential oil has anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and decongestant properties which are helpful in the treatment of respiratory tract infections, cold sores, inflammation of the throat, etc.
- Menthol is an active component of peppermint oil, which calms the inflammation and breaks up mucus.
A compress is a clean, damp and folded cloth that is infused with essential oils and applied on the affected area.
- Warm or cold water can be used for compression depending on its use.
- For compression, take a small bowl of water and add 2-5 drops of essential oil.
- Stir, soak the cloth, wring and apply.
- Ginger or Rosemary essential oil can be used for compression as these are effective in the treatment of localized swelling.
There are certain side effects of oral consumption of essential oils such as menthol, eucalyptus oil, anise, camphor, capsaicin in high quantities.
- Excessive use of tea tree oil may cause dermatitis.
- Menthol Oil can cause a burning sensation and excessive cold feeling.
- Balsam of Peru is considered as an allergen, in excess, it can cause allergic reactions.
- Internal use of essential oils is prohibited in pregnancy as they can be abortifacients.