There are two ways that essential oils can enter the body to create an effect: they can either be absorbed through the skin or inhaled through the nose. Through the skin, the molecules enter through the hair follicles, sweat glands and fat molecules on the skin, entering your lymphatic and blood systems to get circulated around your body, going to the places they are needed most. Inhaling an essential oil gets the essential oil molecules into your body via your olfactory system (sense of smell) and limbic system (the emotional part of your brain) – going to the brain and your respiratory system. Once in the body, they work their way to where they are needed and where they can begin to trigger healing: in a similar way to how taking a pain-relieving tablet works.
In the era of modern medicine, the naming of this treatment first appeared in print in 1937 in a French book on the subject: Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales by René-Maurice Gattefossé [fr], a chemist. An English version was published in 1993. In 1910, Gattefossé burned a hand very badly and later claimed he treated it effectively with lavender oil.
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.
“An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam. Some important information that you should know about an essential oil is the botanical name, chemotype (if applicable), origin of plant (this can drastically change the chemical constituents percentages) and extraction method.” (source)
Because a little bit of oil goes a very long way, a starter set of oils lasts months (if not longer) in our house. It’s a good thing the shelf life of oils is around 1-2 years. One of my favorite sets that includes seven basic oils and seven synergy blends is the “14 Essential Oil Set” from Plant Therapy. This set contains the majority of oils needed to make most of my homemade products, along with therapeutic synergies (blends of individual oils).
It’s important to choose the best essential oil, depending on the health concern or condition that you are trying to remedy. Each essential oil is made up of different compounds and possess different properties, so while some oils are great for relaxing your mind, easing muscle tension and promoting restful sleep, other oils are stimulating, energy boosting and support cognitive function.
Especially if skin sensitivity is a concern, definitely ALWAYS dilute your essential oil with a common neutral carrier oil (also called base oils) before application. Carrier oils are typically cold-pressed oils and do not evaporate like essential oils do, but they can go rancid where essential oils will not. Your choice of carrier oil will depend a bit on preference of smell, texture, and sensitivities to avoid allergic reactions. Popular choices for carrier oils are coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil or grape seed oil.
Ditch overpowering and harsh chemical-based sprays and keep your home smelling fresh and clean. This blend is made up of six essential oils for the ultimate weapon against odors. Citronella, Lavandin, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Myrtle, and Tea Tree work together to create a refreshing, bright scent that keeps you and your family happy and comfortable. Purification oil kills bad odors from cooking, laundry, pets, or anything else life throws your way. Diffuse it throughout your house or use a more targeted approach so you always feel confident in your home, in the car, or on the go!
Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that help to boost your immune system and fight infections. The chemical substances found in the oils, such as terpenes, esters, phenolics, ethers and ketones, have the potential to fight foreign pathogens that can threaten your health. Some of the best essential oils for your immunity include oregano, myrrh, ginger, lemon, eucalyptus, frankincense, peppermint (or Mentha piperita) and cinnamon.
Adding essential oils to your bath is an amazing way to take a relaxing time-out during your busy day. Buy a box of simple Epsom salts as the base for your essential oils. If you just drop the oils into the water, they will not dissolve as nicely as they do when first mixed into the salts, who then dissolve beautifully. Please don’t combine any other chemically produced soaps or products into this mix in an effort to fully enjoy all the benefits of the essential oil and Epsom salts alone.