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You’ve probably heard about essential oils. But what are they anyway?
Well, put simply, essential oils are extracted from plants and used as aromatherapy or skin therapy to offer certain health benefits.
The benefits offered depend on the essential oil and the plant it comes from.
Sometimes, the benefits get a little exaggerated. But you can absolutely experience health benefits from them.
Companies use steam or water distillation to extract the nutrients and make essential oils.
It’s important to understand how an essential oil gets made. That’s because essential oils made through chemical processes can lose much of their potency…and therefore, health benefits.
You call these “essential oils” because the oil keeps the natural fragrance and flavor of the plant it comes from.
Lemon essential oil, for example, smells exactly like lemons.
Why Do Essential Oils Work?
Your body absorbs some plant nutrients when applied to your skin. That’s a proven fact.
Essential oils are also proven to affect your mind when you inhale them. This triggers your brain’s limbic system, which is largely responsible for forming memories.
This can also produce strong emotions, which of course leads to positive changes in your behavior.
Some claim this can also have a physical effect on your body, but science hasn’t proven this yet.
What Benefits Can You Get from Essential Oils?
People have frequently used essential oils as stress and anxiety relievers. Studies routinely show essential oils can be used as a supplemental method for relieving stress and anxiety (in addition to therapy and other healthy lifestyle habits).
Two small studies have shown you can use peppermint, dab it on your temples and forehead, and experience headache and migraine relief. You can find both at the National Institute of Mental Health:
But essential oils don’t just get used for their health benefits. Some people use them in more practical ways, such as to freshen up their laundry, repel mosquitoes, and possibly to extend the shelf life of some foods.
To figure out what really works, you have to give essential oils a try, and research their various uses. Then you just use them as you see fit.
Most often, if they’re going to cause harm, they’ll cause headaches, skin rashes, an asthma attack, or some other allergic reaction.
So you do have to read and understand the essential oil. And if it comes from a new plant you’ve never been exposed to before, like ylang-ylang, strongly consider simply avoiding it.
You should avoid eating essential oils because that most typically leads to harm. And if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, understand that little research has been done on essential oils, so you’re best to leave them alone in that situation too.
But for the most part, essential oils are pretty safe. And they certainly offer some nice health benefits too!