Essential oils are the concentrated extracts of plants, collected and bottled for their aromas and healing properties. Different plants have different effects; basil, for instance, aids in digestion. The effects of essential oils are based on the plant they came from, and as such are quite numerous. They can cool the body, like eucalyptus and grapefruit do, as well as warm it, like birch and clove do. Geranium, juniper and rosemary are known to energize those who use them, whereas cypress, nutmeg and sandalwood help the users calm down.
Essential oils like chamomile, sage and thyme are known for their therapeutic uses in pain relief. They even have medical uses, like lavender, fir and lemongrass, which have anti-inflammatory purposes. They can also be cures themselves, as the essential oils of marjoram, nutmeg and orange are often used to treat insomnia.
The countless healing and therapeutic benefits of essential oils can be found in books and on the Internet if you look for them. Alternative medicine sites and those that focus on organic lifestyles are great places to look for more specific effects of certain essential oils. If you’d like to know what essential oils can do to help you, consider looking up these sources for more information.
Research, of course, is only the first step. If you want to take advantage of the benefits of essential oils, you’ll have to know how to use them. The most common ways of using essential oils are through inhalation, massage, and bathing.
Inhalation works with the principle of aromatherapy—certain smells can have positive effects on your well-being. Lavender, for instance, is known to have a very relaxing scent. You can enjoy the therapeutic properties of their scents by adding about two drops of the desired essential oil into a bowl of steaming water. The heat from the water will release the scent of the oil, which will then mix with the warm steam. Place your head a comfortable distance away from the bowl and breathe the steam in for the healing effects. You can keep the scent from dispersing by covering your head and the bowl with a towel.
You can also use a vaporizer for aromatherapy. Place 4-5 drops of the oil into your vaporizer and let its scent fill the room. If you don’t own a vaporizer, a quick trick is to place a drop or two onto the surface of a light bulb. The heat from the bulb will produce a similar effect to the vaporizer.
Essential oils can also be mixed with massage oils to produce a desired effect. For instance, mix in a little eucalyptus oil with some almond oil for a cooling massage.
You can also add essential oil compresses for improved pain relief and to reduce inflammation. Take note, though, that due to the concentrated nature of essential oils, it’s recommended that you don’t apply the pure substance directly onto your skin. Always dilute the oil before applying it to your body.
Lastly, adding a few drops into a warm bath will combine both of the previous methods. A good, long soak in the tub will let your skin absorb the essential oils as you breathe in their vapors.