Essential oils, touted as a natural way to soothe a long list of common ailments including mood swings, eczema, motion sickness, insomnia and much more, are a hot commodity in holistic medicine today. Only, if you’re a new user, navigating through a sea of different oils can be confusing.
To better help you understand the world of essential oils, BlackDoctor.org recently spoke to Monica Richards, Lead Researcher at Essential Oils Experts, who broke down everything you need to know – because not all oils are created equal.
BlackDoctor.org: What are essentials oils?
Monica Richards: Essential oils are volatile, highly-concentrated liquids that are steam-distilled from various plants, flowers, fruits or trees. As aromatic products, essential oils carry potent fragrances that are said to contain the ‘life force’ of the plant and can be used for topical application or inhalation through aromatherapy.
BlackDoctor.org: What are the uses and benefits of essential oils?
Monica Richards: Essential oils have been used for medicinal and cosmetic reasons for thousands of years and contain a wide variety of therapeutic properties that can impact our mental, emotional or physical state.
In clinical trials, essential oils have been noted to have numerous benefits including pain-reducing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, sedative, wound-healing, antimicrobial, anti-depressant and anti-cancer properties.
Essential oils can be used as natural remedies for many everyday ailments such as muscle pain, nausea, stress, anxiety, congestion, headaches, cramps, sleeping issues, minor cuts or bruises.
Since many contain antibacterial, antifungal and even natural insect repellent properties, essential oils can also be incorporated into our everyday cleaning routines, reducing the need for harmful chemicals and sprays.
For those interested in natural beauty remedies, the various moisturizing, anti-aging and antioxidant qualities of essential oils are effective for a wide range of hair and skin applications.
BlackDoctor.org: How do they work?
Monica Richards: In aromatherapy, there are two common routes of administration: inhalation and topical application. When you inhale essential oils, the molecules activate olfactory sensory neurons, which are found in small patches at the back of your nose.
Once triggered, these sensors send messages along olfactory pathways that are closely located to the limbic system in the brain. This system controls hormone levels, blood pressure, heart rate and memory. Depending on the molecules found in the essential oil, this may have a calming, invigorating or neutral effect on a user’s mental, emotional or physical state.
When applied topically, the diluted essential oils are absorbed through the skin and enter the circulatory system. From there, the essential oils may have an impact on the nervous system.
BlackDoctor.org: Are there tips for buying quality oils?
Monica Richards: Thanks to the growing interest in essential oils, more and more essential oil manufacturers have turned to selling their products online. While there are many high-quality producers online, there are also companies that are looking to simply make a profit. For users, new to essential oils, it may be difficult to determine the difference in quality, particularly when purchasing products online.
There are several signs of quality that can help set apart authentic essential oils from their synthetic counterparts. High-quality essential oil manufactures will often be transparent with their product information.
Single essential oils will often have an accompanying GC/MS report that indicate the batch meets industry standards for that particular essential oil. These standards are based off chemical profiles that have been cataloged by international organizations and confirm the essential oil has not been contaminated or altered in any way.
Companies may also list the essential oil’s Latin name, collection method, main constitutes, or place of origin. As many essential oils may have more than one variety, these factors help ensure you are selecting the correct essential oil for your needs.
The price may also help differentiate true essential oils from synthetic ones. The cost of an essential oil will vary from oil to oil, and depends on several factors such as availability, cost to produce and variety. If one essential oil of the same variety seems to be priced significantly lower than other competitors, this may be a sign that the essential oil has been ‘adulterated,’ or diluted with synthetic ingredients that reduce its therapeutic value.”
For more trusted information, recommendations, and breaking essential oils news, visit The North American Essential Oil and Aromatherapy Experts here.