Essential oils are (essentially)
plant products. Despite the fact that they are called oils, they lack the fatty
acids that actual oils contain. The plant is broken down, usually with steam,
into its liquid essence. Consider “pure” vanilla extract extracted from the
vanilla bean, and you have the idea. In point of fact, a pure extract is an essential
oil. In addition to possessing culinary properties, essential oils can be
applied topically for a variety of maladies. Used in a diffuser, they make
wonderful home fragrances. Many of them have antibacterial properties, making
them very effective in cleaning solutions.
Essential oils are highly
concentrated, and many of them should never be applied topically in undiluted
form. Therefore, it is important to have the necessary information about any
given oil in order to use it effectively. They need to be diluted in what are
commonly known as “carrier” oils. Sweet almond oil is one example of an
excellent carrier oil. The only ones that are generally accepted as safe to
apply topically in an undiluted form are lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood,
and rose geranium. The best oils for use in cleaning solutions are lemon,
grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary.
There are numerous mood benefits to
various oils. For example, lavender and chamomile oils are wonderful for
relaxation. Eucalyptus can ease chest congestion and sinus stuffiness. Orange,
grapefruit, lemon, and ylang-ylang are a few examples of oils that can
positively affect mood. Rosemary is widely believed to affect concentration.
Granted, there has been a shortage of
“scientific” study of essential oils. Pharmaceutical companies have yet to come
up with high-profit incentives to use them. Being natural products, they are
not eligible for patents. There is hope, however. There is currently a research
team at Johns Hopkins Hospital applying scientific study to the widely-reported
efficacy of these little wonder elixirs.
We live in a society that has long
demanded a “quick fix.” Pharmaceutical companies have become obscenely wealthy
by exploiting this tendency. Unfortunately, however, the list of possible “side
effects” for any given medication is usually far longer than the list of
ailments for which it is prescribed. Why not give natural remedies a try?
Unless they are seriously misused, side effects are nil. Do a little research
when in doubt.