Use Essential Oil Safely and Effectively These days essential oils seem to be everywhere. It is in magazines, big stores, and even featured by celebrities. It has become popular nowadays because of its ubiquity in both health and well-being. As it is highly plant-based aromatics, it is important to use essential oil safely and effectively.
What are the essential oil and their Historical facts?
Essential oil is obtained or extracted from plants, roots or other natural sources. It is also referred to as ethereal, ethereal oils and volatile oils, which have been around for the last 6000 years.
The essential oil has a rich history because they were mainly used for medical purposes. It is still commonly used to cure ailments like cancer, skin related problems, depression, anxiety, etc. However, due to insufficient research information, the credibility of essential oil has been questioned in many countries. As a result, it has remarkably reduced in comparison to evidence-based medicine. But gradually, with the increase of numerous disease and skin complications, the demand for essential oil has increased.
The ancient aromatherapy
People are using essential oil for a medical purpose from the prehistoric period. Going back to primeval era, the Chinese, Egyptian, and the Romans have used this therapy. Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine that depends on the powerful sense of smell. They used essential oils from the plants, roots, fruits, etc. to heal the body, mind and soul. Aromatherapy is just the modern name of the ancient practice. And from years, from ancient time till today, the scientists have been conducting experiments on sleep-promoting, pain-reducing, stress-relieving and mood-boosting benefits of the oil.
How essential oils are extracted?
The main process to extract oils from parts of plants like leaves, herbs, roots, petals and rinds is distillation and in many cases through steam technology, which is a purification of liquids. There are also other processes which include resin tapping, solvent extraction, cold pressing, phytonic processing and absolute oil extraction. The end product is then used for flavoring foods, enhancing perfumes, in cosmetics, etc.
How essential oil smell affect the body and mind?
Our sense of smell is directly connected to the brain, which controls our emotions. The cells inside the nose detect all the aroma and odor of everything around us and send it to the brain. There is also a cluster of cells at the top of our throat that detects the smell of the food we consume. The information is immediately transferred to the limbic system of the brain, which comprises regions of amygdale that manages emotional reaction and memories.
The thalamus is a small part of our brain located just above the brain stem. With the help of thalamus, the data is passed in the other parts of the brain, which produce our sensory perceptions. That’s why you identify with the scent of the rose garden, or cookies in the oven, or banana bread baking so strongly.
How to use essential oils?
There are different methods to use essential oils, and not many people know this. It is not only used for skincare but also cure many health problems. There are three primary ways to use an essential oil –apply to the skin, inhale or ingest. Within these, there are many different kinds of methods.
Inhalation – Essential oils are volatile, that means it quickly evaporates. You can hold the bottle of oil close to your nose to inhale directly or place a few drops of the oil into your palm or wrist to inhale. Mix a few drops of will into hot water and make a tent-like structure with a towel and inhale the steam. Take precaution not to burn yourself.
Take a bath – A hot bath can be very effective in treating physical ailments. Adding essential oil in the water will make the bath more soothing. One must remember that oil does not mix with water; it floats on the surface of the water. Hence, to avoid this, you need to add Epsom salt or sea salt into the water with the oil. A hot bath with essential oil also enhances the blood flow in your body.
Massage – You can add essential oil to your massage to experience a better outcome. You must be very careful while applying essential oil directly to the skin. Mix it with coconut oil or almond oil to avoid any adverse effect. The blend should not exceed 1% of essential oil. Such massage will enhance lymphatic circulation, moisture your skin and brings deep relaxation.
Saunas – Add two drops of essential oil in two cups of water and pour the mixture into the sauna. This composition will cure sore muscles and will rejuvenate the entire body.
Gargle – Mix a few drops of essential oil with a glass of water, and then gargle the solution and spit it out. It will comfort sore throat. Remember not to swallow the water.
Air freshener – Add six to ten drops of essential oil with water into a spray container. Shake well before spraying the mixture into your house or bedroom to neutralize any odor.
Topically – The most common places in your body to apply essential oil are a temple, pulse point, chest, bottoms of feet and behind ears. Use two to three drops only. Not all oils are safe to use topically. Before applying any oil topically, do check with the manufacturer if it is safe to use that way.
Precaution to observe
Caution if pregnant – Essential oils have the propensity to affect your hormones, so precaution must be taken when using the product if pregnant or undergoing nursing duties. The essential oil can pervade through the placenta to the baby. It can cause some severe damage like miscarriages or birth defect. Several oils are safe to use during pregnancy, so do consult your doctor before using any essential oil.
Avoid using it on babies and children – Generally essential oils are not given internally to babies and children. It is because they have less developed organs, which are likely to get damage whenever a new substance is introduced. The oil may contain impurities or allergens, which can develop complications in their body. Products such as rosemary, wintergreen and eucalyptus contain a high amount of menthol and cineole, which may slow breathing or completely stop it amongst infants.
Avoid using oils on certain areas of the body – One must avoid using it on eyes, inner parts of ears, nose and wounded parts of the skin, as it can cause irritation. Wash your hand thoroughly after using or blending essential oil.
Going out – Before going out in the sun, avoid essential oil, as it increases the sensitivity of the skin, which can cause skin redness or itching.
Medical condition – If you have any medical condition, consult a qualified doctor before using essential oils. People having liver or kidney disease must avoid using it because the essential oil which gets absorbed into the body may cause serious damage to the liver and kidneys, as it is cleared from your body by them.
Sensitive skin – Some essential oils should not be applied directly to your skin if you have sensitive skin. Always dilute the oil before using it. Lemongrass, cumin, lemon verbena and cassia are common irritants.
Overuse or misuse – Overuse of essential oil can cause headache or dizziness.
If it is accidentally getting into your eyes, clean it with the help of cotton and olive oil.
If a child accidentally consumes it, rush them to the nearest health centre.
Use essential oil safely and effectively
When you are buying an essential oil for the first time, do some research. Make sure you choose genuine and pure oils that are safe for you.
Many products have high quantities of phenols and aldehydes, which may cause skin irritation. It is recommended to dilute the oil to minimize irritation.
Always dilute the minimum dosage of essential oil according to your skin sensitivity level. Increase concentrations may cause dermal skin reactions.
Whether you take the essential oil internally, inhale, diffused, or topically each of these procedures has its safety measures which must be taken care of. Do read the buyers manual properly before using it.
Inflamed, damaged or diseased skins are vulnerable to the effects of essential oils. Therefore, it is unsafe to apply these products in damaged skin.
The risk associated with popular essential oils-
This oil can cause membrane irritation, double vision, nausea, facial flushing, and vomiting if applied without diluting.
This oil can cause skin burning if applied before sunlight exposure.
It increases the effects of some drugs when used internally.
It affects the hormones of males who have not reached puberty.
It may cause a rash or burn if applied topically and also cause hallucination when ingested.
It may cause heartburn if taken internally.
- Tea tree
It causes loss of muscle coordination if swallowed.
This oil may cause restlessness, vomiting, rapid heart rate and kidney damage if the large amount ingested.
If essential oils are properly diluted and necessary precaution is taken before using the oil, then it is the best aromatherapy product available. It is advisable to consult with your doctor or your beautician before using it.