New products are popping up every day touting the existence of “essential oils” in their ingredients. But why are essential oils so important all of a sudden?

The fact is, essential oils have been around for ages.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are described as any of a class of volatile oils that give plants their characteristic odors and are used especially in perfumes and flavorings, and for aromatherapy.

(reference: Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

Some oils we first hear about are mentioned in the Bible. The three Wise Men brought Frankincense and Myrrh to Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. Both of the oils are still being used today for their medicinal properties. 

Essential oil companies, such as Young Living and Doterra, Biolandes and Garden of Life, use a specific extraction process to harvest oils from various plants.

Why Use Oils?

Essential oils have a large variety of uses. Diffusing oils not only makes a home or office smell good, it dispenses the therapeutic qualities of the oils into a room. Some oils are suited for internal and topical use. Always read and follow directions for the particular oil you’re using.

Shaylah Schultz,  of Blountville, TN, has used essential oils for several years and said she depends on them almost daily.

“One of the main benefits I’ve seen from using oils is stopping or decreasing migraines.” she said. “When I feel a migraine coming, I can, many times. use peppermint oil and it will go away.”

Do the Research

It’s also good to keep in mind what an essential oil is not.  Though some products are advertised to have “oils” – read the fine print before buying.  An oil isn’t always a pure essential oil. If you’re looking for a naturally scented product, read to see if it’s merely a fragrance oil at the end of the rainbow.  A fragrance oil can include synthetics in its makeup.

Essential oil companies are plentiful and it pays to do some homework before going shopping. Keep in mind how the oils are sourced and processed – read each company’s statements about purity. A good place to start would be having a discussion with someone who is an expert in the field.

Kevin Gravell, licensed massage therapist, certified aroma therapist and wellness coach, offered some professional advice on buying essential oils. He owns Bamboo Therapeutic Massage and Body Works, located in Jonesborough, TN.

“It is a big industry so it will draw in a lot of “me too” companies that will often cut corners or more likely dilute the essential oils with cheaper carrier oils or use synthetic rather than pure essential oils.” He said.

He advises that cheaper oils may be tempting to buy, but are not always the best choice if you want quality and safety.

“Pure, organic oils that are truly therapeutic are not cheap, because a lot of research, preparation and processing has occurred to get the purest oil which has undergone vigorous testing to guarantee its quality.  So expect to pay $30 to $50 for a 1oz bottle. You would for a small bottle of cologne that has gone through less testing and contains cheaper synthetic ingredients.”

“My recommendation is to keep to the bigger, more reputable suppliers that give a quality guarantee or seal of conformity rather that the guy in the market who mixes his own blends for a few bucks.” He added.

Schultz said Young Living oils are her “go to” – “I like the fact that they have a seed-to-seal guarantee. They know where each of their crops comes from and know that no pesticides, etc are used.”

Stock Up

There are many different oils available –  got a sinus headache, a cold or just need to relax? There’s an oil for that!

Gravell suggested some oils to start out with –  “My top four, in order, are Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon and Frankincense.”

  • Peppermint is a basic oil that reportedly helps with indigestion, respiratory problems, headache, nausea, fever and stomach problems
  • Lavendar oil is touted for its ability to help reduce stress and anxiety, eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, enhance blood circulation and also help treat respiratory problems it is also known as a pleasing fragrance that is used in deodorant products and soaps
  • Lemon oil is known for helping treat skin disorders, hair conditions, fever, infections, complications from asthma, obesity, insomnia, stomach problems and fatigue, among many other uses
  • Frankincense, as mentioned earlier, is hailed as being an antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent, digestive aid, diuretic, expectorant and a sedative, among other uses

(reference: Organicfacts.net)

Gravell also said he has seen his own clients starting to use oils.

“My clients are pretty curious to which oils I may be incorporating into their massage oils and why, and will often ask my opinion on the subject to their use or application.”

Schultz said she loves her peppermint oil.  “My number one oil is peppermint. I don’t go anywhere without it!” I use it for everything from headaches to stomach aches, and everything in between.”

 

(cover image credit: up-nature.com)

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