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It seems that these days, almost everyone is talking about essential oils. But if all you know is that people rave about them and not much else, you’re probably not sure where to start.
Essential oils, which are natural and highly concentrated, having been extracted directly from a flower, fruit, leaf, bark, seed or root of a plant or tree, offer remedies for all sorts of home and health issues. They can be used in a bath, for massage, in an essential oil diffuser (see this post for a review of the top 5 most popular) and more, as well as for use in homemade beauty and cleaning products.
Many traditional hospitals, including Fort Worth Hospital in Texas and Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University Hospital, have begun taking advantage of the properties of essential oils to use them in treating anxiety, depression and even infections in patients.
Certain essential oils have also been used by midwives to help lessen fear and anxiety during childbirth. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggested that women who used aromatherapy during labor reported less pain overall and were able to use fewer pain medications.
So, now you know that benefits derived using essential oils aren’t only due to a placebo affect – they offer scientifically proven benefits, you probably really want to take advantage of them.
If you’re just starting out with essential oils, you may want to try picking up just a few different types, and then building up your collection as you get used to blending and using them on a regular basis.
Tips for first-time buyers of essential oils
- Keep in mind that perfume oils aren’t the same as essential oils and don’t offer therapeutic benefits.
- Be aware that there are poor quality essential oils on the market that won’t give you much benefit either, including oils that are diluted with cheaper, low-grade oils and synthetic fragrances. By purchasing your essential oils from a reputable supplier, you can help ensure that you’ll be getting the highest quality, and therefore, the highest level of benefits.
- One very important tip when searching for a company to buy your essential oils is to walk away if all of its different oils are sold at the same price. That’s a sign that they’re likely synthetic or of lesser quality, as the cost of essential oils should vary significantly, depending on how much of the raw material is needed to produce the oil.
- Your essential oils should not be capped with a rubber glass dropper top as the oils will eventually turn the rubber to a gummy substance that will render your oil useless. They should be stored, and typically come in, a dark glass like amber or cobalt blue. Keep them in a cool, dark place.
- Pay attention to the botanical name, as there are different varieties of common plants used to create the oils, particularly eucalyptus, lavender, anise, bay, and cedarwood. For example, two distinct oils are called “bay essential oil,” yet each one comes from a different plant, and the aroma, as well as the properties, also differ. Choose to purchase only from companies that list the Latin name of the oil, as well as the common name, to avoid confusion. The company should also list the country of origin it was derived from along with the method of extraction.
What are the best essential oils for beginners?
There are roughly 100 different types of essential oils, and each and every essential oil contains compounds that have unique healing and therapeutic benefits, making it difficult to know where to start when first building your collection.
Selecting several from this list, and adding a few more as you go, is a good way to begin.
Clove essential oil offers antioxidant, antifungal, anti-parasitic and antibacterial properties. It’s a top oil when it comes to dental issues, and has long be used in treatments for problems like toothaches, and it can also help treat infection, battle stress and headaches, fight indigestion, ease nausea and more. If you develop a toothache in the middle of the night or another time when you can’t get to the dentist right away, clove oil can be a real lifesaver.
There are two types of chamomile, an essential oil well-known for offering calming effects. They offer similar benefits, although Roman chamomile tends to be more calming, while German chamomile is considered to be a more powerful anti-inflammatory agent as it contains a compound known as azulene. Just a few of its beneficial properties including being an antibiotic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, antidepressant, sedative and analgesic. It may help to relieve anxiety, tension, and stress as well as to aid in healing the skin and soothe irritation. It may also aid in the promotion of the secretion of digestive juices, facilitating better digestion. With so many different benefits chamomile oil is a must for anyone’s medicine cabinet.
Lavender is known to help speed healing in cuts and burns as well as rashes and stings. It can also decrease anxiety, reduce inflammation and promote better sleep, particularly after trauma. Its specific properties include being an analgesic, antifungal, antiseptic, sleep inducing and a disinfectant. As mentioned, there are different types of lavender essential oils, including English varieties (Lavandula angustifolias), French (Lavandula dentate) and Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia), which grows in lower elevation areas of France and Spain. Bulgarian Lavandula angustfolia is generally considered to be the best pick as it’s lower in cost than the others but offers the same benefits. Bulgaria is also the world’s biggest producer of lavender oil. Put a few drops on your pillow just before going to bed, and odds are, you’ll get a much better night’s rest.
Ginger essential oil contains gingerol, which offers powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s also been shown in studies to increase thermogenesis, resulting in a boosted metabolism which makes it easier to lose weight. It’s stimulating, relieves nausea and pain, supports joint health and improves mental clarity.
Peppermint oil not only smells wonderful, it can help boost your energy level, improve focus, support healthier digestion, reduce fever and headache, and provide muscle pain relief. Some of its properties include being antiseptic, analgesic, a stimulant, anesthetic, and antispasmodic. Carry some along with you when you’re traveling, or just out and about, and when fatigue hits, take a whiff – it’s an instant pick-me-up.
This essential oil helps to improve respiratory issues such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and allergies. It has the ability to reduce congestion and improve mental clarity too. Eucalyptus oil contains a number of important properties, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic and serving as a decongestant.
This warm and exotic oil can help reduce inflammation, aid in regulating the menstrual cycle, shorten the life cycle of a cold, build immunity, heal age spots, fight cancer and support brain health. It is most commonly used as a disinfectant, antiseptic, diuretic, expectorant, and a sedative.
Lemon is one of the best oils to have on hand for use in making homemade cleaning products. Cold-pressed from lemon rinds, it has a strong, purifying citrus scent that helps to uplift and revitalize. Lemon oil is an amazing, natural cleaner, very effective when used to clean dishes, metal surfaces, and even clothes. As it’s a disinfectant, it’s often used to clean surfaces of items like knives and kitchen blocks that tend to get contaminated easily. As lemon is also quite calming, it’s another good one to carry wherever you go to help beat things like mental fatigue, nervous tension, exhaustion, and anxiety as it helps to refresh the mind and create a more positive mindset.
9. Tea tree:
Tea tree is antibiotic, anti-fungal, antiseptic, expectorant and antiviral. It’s often used to inhibit viral and bacterial infections. It can even be used to kill insects, protect a wound and speed the healing of a scar. If you have a cold or a cough it can stimulate systemic functions and appropriate discharges, it can less its duration.
Grapefruit essential oil offers a variety of properties – it’s considered to be a tonic, a disinfectant, stimulant, antiseptic and antidepressant. It supports a well-running metabolism and is even said to help reduce cellulite by mixing it with coconut oil and rubbing it on cellulite areas. It also offers stimulating effects on the mind, helping to improve mental clarity and memory.
Rosemary improves brain function and memory, making it ideal to use when working or studying. It’s also known to relieve mental fatigue, helping one to focus on a particular task longer. As it can naturally stimulate hair growth and thicken hair, if you want to enjoy thicker, healthier, locks, add a bit to a homemade shampoo and/or conditioner. Regular use of this oil can result in hair that’s longer and stronger. If you suffer a dry, flaky scalp or other scalp conditions, regularly massage rosemary oil into your scalp to nourish it and eliminate dandruff. Other attributes include the ability to reduce pain and relieve respiratory issues.
Sandalwood has a wonderful spicy, earthy aroma. It acts as a natural aphrodisiac that can boost libido and improve energy levels too. In addition to being an aphrodisiac, it’s considered to be anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent and serves as a calming, sedative substance. There are three varieties of sandalwood; avoid Australian sandalwood (Santalum Spicatum), which does not offer many benefits, as well as Hawaiian sandalwood(Santalum Ellipticum), as it tends to be very expensive without offering additional value. Indian sandalwood (Santalum Album), is considered to be the best.
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