Essential Oils: Uses, Benefits, Choosing The Right Essential Oil For Your Needs
You’ve no doubt heard of aromatherapy, but how many of you really know what it is and what it can be used for?
Do you think that aromatherapy is simply a treatment which smells nice?
Or, do you know a little more about the benefits of this holistic therapy, and why it has been around for centuries?
Aromatherapy is an age-old treatment which is used by holistic therapists to treat a range of ailments.
Whilst there is some debate amongst medical professionals over whether aromatherapy is a credible option, many do agree that alongside medical methods, in some cases, aromatherapy could be a good way to reduce certain problems and pain issues.
When performing aromatherapy, you will use something called essential oils.
These are oils which are derived from plants, and the “essence” is extracted using various, rather complicated methods.
These methods ensure not to damage the oil in any way, and to maintain its benefits and and purity as much as possible.
There are countless essential oils, but a few of the most common you’ve probably heard of are:
- Lavender oil
- Lemon oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Tea tree oil
- Rosemary oil
- Ylang ylang oil
- Chamomile oil
- Frankincense oil
There are many, many more, but these are some of the most commonly used and therefore the easiest to find.
How Do You Use Essential Oils?
There are several ways to use essential oils, some of these oils including inhalation via a diffuser or steam, through massage, or topically on the skin.
Its very rare that ingestion of essential oils is ever advised and this should be approached with caution, only ever at the advice of an expert aromatherapist.
In some cases, essential oils can be used to make tea, but this isn’t the case with all oils, and again, you should seek advice before even attempting it.
Essential oils are very potent, and as such they are diluted down with carrier oils.
The most common type of carrier oil is coconut oil, but olive oil is also another very commonly used choice.
This means you’re getting the essential oil benefits but the benefits of the carrier oil too.
You can choose the method you use from a long list, but it’s always worthwhile speaking to your doctor before you attempt to use aromatherapy with essential oils.
There are few people who can’t use essential oils, but each oil has its own properties and that means you need to tread very carefully, especially if you have any specific conditions or you’re taking any medications.
Essential Oils Benefits
Aromatherapy with essential oils is thought to treat and minimise the effects of several different conditions and ailments.
Whilst a lot of studies have gone into these, medical professionals sometimes remain sceptical, however this is decreasing.
Several medical centres now have aromatherapy sessions, e.g. antenatal aromatherapy, aromatherapy for chemotherapy patients, etc.
Aromatherapy has been around since the days of Ancient Egypt and possibly even before, so this is not a new thing.
Despite that, it has taken to this very day for aromatherapy to become mainstream in a way, and for medical professionals to really start taking it seriously.
Countless studies have tried to prove the benefits of aromatherapy and oils, and they have yielded some very interesting and encouraging results.
Before we get onto the specific essential oil benefits, let’s mention some of the conditions and ailments which aromatherapy is used for in particular:
- Fatigue and general lethargy
- Menstrual problems and menopausal symptoms
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Certain types of cancer
- Erectile dysfunction
- Chronic pain conditions
The effectiveness of aromatherapy depends upon the method by which it is used and the oil you opt for.
It’s a good idea to read up on the various essential oils and their specific benefits, as they all have different ones.
For instance, lavender is particularly useful for sleep problems and anxiety, but tea tree oil has very high quality anti-bacterial qualities. The list goes on.
The benefits of essential oils in general however are quite similar.
Let’s explore them in a bit more detail below.
Pain Management And Control
Essential oils have been shown to be very useful in helping those with chronic pain conditions, via regular aromatherapy use.
Peppermint oil, rose hip oil, clary stage oil, evening primrose oil and lavender oil are some of the best choices for pain management problems and can be used in a variety of different ways, including via massage or inhalation.
Adding a few drops of essential oil to your bath water may also be a pleasant soother for minor aches and pains.
If you have joint pain, perhaps from arthritis, essential oils may also help to soothe the pain and help you move around a little easier as a result.
Ideal For Poor Sleep Quality And Insomnia
If you struggle to get to sleep at night or you suffer from insomnia, there are several essential oils which are known to have deeply relaxing properties, allowing you to nod off far easier, for a good night’s sleep.
Lavender oil is the most commonly used here, and you’ll find that we mentioned lavender oil a lot, as a general all-rounder oil which is very commonly available.
Valerian essential oil, clary sage oil, roman chamomile and bergamot oil are a few other essential oils which have relaxation properties, to help you fall asleep at night.
Aids With Stress And Anxiety Reduction
The soothing scent of essential oils may help you with stress and anxiety, and again, you can use these essential oils in a variety of different ways.
Inhaling is a good option here, so think about purchasing a diffuser as a way to inhale the oil and reap its benefits.
Lavender oil, rose oil, ylang ylang oil, and jasmine oil are a few of the commonly used essential oils for stress management and anxiety reduction.
In terms of essential oils benefits, this is certainly one of the most commonly requested and used.
Helps to Minimise Headaches And Migraines
There is some suggestion that one of the essential oils benefits is to reduce headaches and migraines, usually through inhalation, however some people apply (diluted) essential oils to their temples and massage it in.
A few useful oils for this use are peppermint oil, rosemary oil, lavender oil (again!), chamomile oil, and eucalyptus oil
Reduces Chemotherapy Side Effects
Many health centres now offer aromatherapy to cancer patients who want to reduce the side effects of their chemotherapy.
This is becoming more and more commonplace and one of the best essential oils benefits around.
A few useful oils for this situation are lavender oil, ylang ylang oil, eucalyptus oil, jasmine oil, marjoram oil, and peppermint oil.
However, this type of benefit should only be obtained via the advice of a healthcare professional, to ensure that the oils and the method of administering them doesn’t cause any other side effects.
Certain aromatherapy oils may also be used in palliative care situations and hospices, to help patients feel more comfortable and relaxed.
May Help to Reduce Labour Pain
Whilst essential oils are certainly not going to take away the pain of labour completely, they may, in certain situations, help the women to relax a little and therefore breathe into the pain, rather than fighting against it.
A few useful oils for this specific use are lavender oil, peppermint oil, myrrh oil, ylang ylang oil, and geranium oil.
This should be at the say so of your midwife however, and shouldn’t be attempted without consultation with your medical team in labour first.
If you want to explore antenatal and labour aromatherapy options, speak to your midwife who will refer you to an aromatherapist and give you advice.
May Help to Boost Your Immune System
Another of the essential oils benefits to note is a boost to your immune system, whilst fighting bacteria, fungus, and viruses.
Most essential oils have antibiotic properties, and many have anti–inflammatory properties too.
This helps to boost your immune system and can fight any specific viruses you may have currently, or bacteria that may be lurking in your system.
Some of the best essential oils for this specific use are lemon oil, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, clove bud oil, and rosemary oil.
Helps to Improve Digestion
Certain essential oils are also known to help boost your digestion, especially peppermint oil, which is one of the most famous for this specific use.
Ginger oil, oregano oil and tarragon oil are also very commonly used oils for digestion.
Certain oils also help boost the absorption of nutrients from food, therefore ensuring that your body gets the very best of the vitamins and minerals from food.
However, you should be very careful with ingestion of essential oils and avoid if at all possible.
Certain oils can be used to make tea, but again, you need to be cautious and follow instructions from your aromatherapist.
Choosing The Right Essential Oil For Your Needs
The essential oils benefits we have just mentioned are certainly very encouraging and show you that nature can certainly bring many advantages.
Not everyone likes the idea of taking medication, but if your doctor advises you to do so, you must listen to their advice.
What you can do is supplement with certain holistic therapies such as aromatherapy, provided you inform your doctor of what you’re doing and get the green light.
The biggest part of the puzzle is choosing the right essential oil for your specific needs.
It’s a good idea to do research and read into the types that you can find easily.
Not all essential oils are that readily available but some of the most popular can be found in supermarkets and healthcare stores.
Lavender oil is without a doubt the most famous and commonly used essential oil.
You will not struggle to find lavender oil and with its delicious and wonderful scent, it has a wide range of different uses.
Many people add a drop or two onto their pillow or make a mist with lavender oil to help them sleep and it’s certainly a very worthwhile thing to try if you do struggle with nodding off to sleep, or general insomnia too.
You should also be careful if you have any specific allergies and perhaps try a patch test before you use an oil you’re not too sure about.
Remember to dilute essential oils with carrier oils, as these can be very potent without dilution.
In some cases you don’t need to do this, but it’s best to take dilution as the go-to point and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
Whilst essential oils do come from plants, that doesn’t mean they’re completely safe for everyone and everything.
You should certainly read into the specific oils you’re thinking of using and work out which is best for you.
If you’re not too sure, don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor.
Medical professionals are certainly becoming more and more open to the idea of using essential oils for certain conditions and afflictions, and they will give you honest advice about whether this is the right route for you and which oil might be the most beneficial.
Organic essential oils are usually the best option, as these have nothing false added in and they are completely as natural as possible.
These might be slightly more expensive, but they’re worth it for the added quality.
Having said that, most essential oils these days are organic, simply because we’re becoming more and more aware of what we use and what we put into our bodies.
That’s no bad thing, because if we want to remain as healthy as possible, we need to use the purest and most natural ingredients to meet our aim.
Overall, aromatherapy using essential oils is a very commonplace therapy these days, and provided you do your research and find the best option for you, you may find that you receive relief from a specific ailment, or simply enjoy the whole experience in general!