There has been a lot of talk in the past few years about essential oils. So, what exactly are essential oils? Essential oils are oils that have been extracted from the roots, flowers, leaves, or seeds of plants. Aromatherapy is the practice of diluting the essential oils and using them in soap, lotions, sprays, or salts, or in diffusers, which are dispersed through steam or vapor.
The use of essential oils goes back thousands of years, with our ancestors using plants to help them alleviate pain and suffering. One plant used for such things, eucalyptus, has been incorporated in recent years into such products as Vic’s Vapor Rub or Hall’s cough drops. Eucalyptus oil also keeps the bugs away and disinfects wounds. Another widely-used oil, clove oil, is found in many toothache medicines. Clove oil contains a compound called eugenol which is known for its antibacterial properties and fights dental pain, toothaches, sore gums and mouth ulcers.
Although there is no proof that essential oils can “cure” anything, the benefits of essential oils cannot be denied. Lavender, chamomile, and rose oils have been shown to help anxiety, while peppermint oil has been shown to help migraines.
According to an article in Scientific American, one recent scientific study has shown that lemon oil can help patients with dementia. Treatment of acne with tea tree oil has also shown to be effective, as well as the treatment of alopecia areata or hair loss with oils such as thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood.
"Essential oils don't work for everyone, but there's no harm in trying them as long as you use them in a safe way," says Harpreet Gujral, program director of integrative medicine at Sibley Memorial Hospital. "Even if they just boost your mood, it can make a positive impact on your health and well-being."
Although more studies need to be done on essential oils, many people use them on a daily basis, as part of a holistic life-style, opting for natural remedies, rather than depending on medications, and making frequent trips to the doctor’s office.
For a list of essential oils and their benefits visit healthine.com.