What are essential oils?
Essential oils are the highly concentrated essence of a plant, they are thought to help plants survive and each has a unique chemical composition that can be therapeutic to us in terms of our health and wellbeing.
Some essential oil compounds can be anti-inflammatory, pain relieving or antiseptic whilst others can help to ease stress and anxiety whilst also having a physiological effect to help balance and restore our emotions.
Each essential oil is made up of several (sometimes up to a 100) different chemical components, each component has it’s own role to play within the health of the plant however some will be more dominant than others and these are the benefits that we can feel too.
How do essential oils work?
Our sense of smell is very sensitive and gives our body an immediate reaction, this reaction can initiate a physiological response and affect our body and how we feel.
Essential oils can be used to affect our state of mind, such as helping to make us more alert and focused or help us to relax when feeling stressed. One of the most common examples of this is Lavender oil, which includes the chemical compound linalool which has been shown to ease anxiety, helping us to relax.
Essential oils can also be used as natural healers, taking advantage of their medicinal properties to help heal the body. Many oils have anti-bacterial properties such as Tea Tree that can kill bacteria, whilst the menthol compound found in Peppermint oil can be a powerful anti-septic.
We can also use essential oils to help stabilise our hormones if they are out of sync. For example, Rosemary oil has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
How can essential oils help us?
Due to their ability to affect our emotions, moods and hormones we can use them to target areas we need more support with. Maybe its feelings of stress, or tiredness, perhaps we are feeling run down or we want to give ourselves a burst of energy.
One of my favourite benefits of essential oils is how just a gentle sniff from the bottle can be enough to change my mood, it can lift me or calm me, it can even help me to relax into sleep. No need for anything more than just a gentle inhalation and when coupled with a few deep breaths the effects can be so soothing.
As well as helping us internally through their scent, essential oils can also help us externally too; for example oils such as Eucalyptus and Bergamot have been shown to have a similar effect on pain and inflammation in the body as traditional medicine such as ibuprofen, proving particularly helpful in relieving localised pain such as tension headaches and muscles aches. Citrus oils such as lemon can be used as an antibacterial for household cleaning.
There are countless ways we can integrate essential oils into our lives and feel the benefits of them with safe and consistent use.
I’m looking forward to sharing all the way I love to use oils in my daily routines to help inspire you to use them too.