Despite the sudden burst in popularity, essential oils are not a new thing. The ancient Egyptians were among the first people to use aromatic essential oils, incorporating them into their daily lives. Pure essential oils were incredibly valuable and saved for priests and royals. Ancient books such as the Bible also talk about the use of essential oils. According to the book, Essential Oils for Beginners, the Old and New Testament reference essential oils over two hundred times.
According to a review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “at least 90 essential oils can be identified as being recommended for dermatological use, with at least 1,500 combinations.” What gives these oils their skin benefits is their ability to fight against pathogens that are responsible for dermatological infections. Oils can also help to improve inflammatory skin conditions, like dermatitis, eczema and lupus, improve the general appearance of your skin and even aid wound healing. (16)
There are three different categories of oils: top notes, middle notes and base notes. Generally, top notes are more stimulating, uplifting and refreshing and base notes are more sedating and relaxing, though this is not always the case. Whilst not always strictly accurate, another good general guide to this is that citrus oils (Lemon, Lime etc) can often be top notes, uplifting and stimulating, whereas floral oils (Lavender, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Rose etc) are more middle to base notes and more relaxing.
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What is an essential oil? Typically created through the process of distillation — which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming — they are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. In fact, sometimes they are called volatile aromatic oils because of their high concentration of the aromatic compounds. (1) They also are simply called aromatherapy oils.
This is one of the most vital things you must know about essential oils: not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, most of them are worthless to your health and often synthetic. Therefore, when buying such oils — whether 5ml, 10ml or 15ml bottles — choose pure ones that are certified USDA organic, 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and indigenously sourced.
Aromatherapists, people who specialize in the practice of aromatherapy, utilize blends of supposedly therapeutic essential oils that can be used as topical application, massage, inhalation or water immersion. There is no good medical evidence that aromatherapy can either prevent, treat, or cure any disease. Placebo-controlled trials are difficult to design, as the point of aromatherapy is the smell of the products. There is disputed evidence that it may be effective in combating postoperative nausea and vomiting.