Essential oils are bottled concentrated compounds extracted from some potentially beneficial plants. For the past few decades, the study of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) has gained popularity, and essential oils play an important role in this treatment approach. These oils contain volatile chemical compounds extracted from a single plant species and are used in Aromatherapy, a type of CAM practice.
All plants do not produce essential oils, and the plants that produce these oils can be extracted from the roots, stems, leaves, fruits, or even flowers. They have a great smell that naturally helps heal your mind, body, and spirit. To know more about essential oils and their tremendous beneficial effects on human beings, read through this article.
How Are Essential Oils Extracted?
There are various techniques for extracting essential oils from plants. However, the most commonly used method is steam distillation. In this method, steam is passed through the plant materials forcibly, and this mixture is then collected and eventually condensed inside the container to form a liquid. This liquid contains both oil and water forming two distinct layers.
What are the benefits of essential oils?
Aromatherapy, one of the Complementary and Alternative Medicines treatment approaches used for centuries, involves a wide use of essential oils to heal the human body’s physical, mental, and emotional state. When inhaled these oils, the fragrance molecules travel directly from the olfactory nerves through the brain, thus affecting the emotional center of the brain known as the amygdala. Research has shown various beneficiary effects of these essential oils, like:
- Lowering stress and easing anxiety feelings
- Boosting mood and uplifting the spirits
- Increasing concentration and clarifying thoughts
- Providing relief from painful migraines and headaches
- Improving sleep
- Reducing skin inflammations and increasing skin texture
- Killing skin bacteria, viruses, or fungi
- Providing relief from nausea
- Reducing appearances of skin scars
- Reducing signs of aging
Which Plants Produce the Best Essential Oils?
Some of the plants commonly known for producing the best essential oils are lavender, lemon, peppermint, bergamot, orange, rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, cedarwood, roman chamomile, etc. The unique scented liquid acquired from these plants is used in Aromatherapy, perfumes, and even food seasonings. It takes a massive amount of these plant materials to prepare these oils, thus making some of the best essential oils brands quite pricey. We will discuss the benefits of some of these best essential oils in detail:
Lavender Essential Oil:
Lavender is a light pinkish purple-colored herb grown mostly in Northern America and the Mediterranean mountains. It is most often grown for its essential oil by the steam distillation of the flower tips of specific lavender species. It has a light and fresh floral scent. This herb is highly recommended in the cosmetic world for skin and beauty and also has some medicinal benefits.
- You may add it to your bath water or diffuser, use it as a room freshener or body spray by adding it with water or even combine it with a base oil to prepare body oil.
- It has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, which help in healing minor rashes and burns.
- Studies show that lavender can help reduce stress and depression and treat insomnia. It also helps to get relief from painful headaches, toothaches, and sores.
- It is used to prevent hair loss.
Lemon Essential Oil:
Lemon is a citrus fruit of small evergreen trees belonging to the Rutaceae family, usually grown in some Asian countries. Besides consuming it, lemon is also used as an essential oil serving as a home health remedy. It is usually extracted through steam distillation from the peel of fresh lemons. Lemon oils have a traditional sharp, clean, and citrus fragrance. Here are some of its benefits.
- It can be diffused into the air as a room freshener. When inhaled, its distinct smell energizes and uplifts your mood.
- It can be diluted and topically applied to the skin along with a base oil or any skin packs, thus helping clear skin.
- It can kill harmful skin bacteria and viruses and control rashes.
- It is believed to reduce stress, fight exhaustion, and ease nausea.
- Research shows that lemon oil might help improve cognitive behavior in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Tea Tree Essential Oil:
Tea tree oil originates from the leaves of a small tree named Melaleuca Alternifolia, native to Australia. It is extracted by the steam distillation method of the leaves and terminal branches. The oil has a fresh, camphor-like, and medicinal smell. Australian aboriginals have been using this oil for centuries to reduce cough and cold, and its benefits are highly valued even these days.
- It is available in both diluted and neat forms, where the diluted ones range from 5 to 50% strength in skin care products.
- The compound named Terpinen-4-ol contained in this oil helps in killing bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It also activates your white blood cells, thus helping to fight germs and heal infections.
- You may apply the raw form of tea tree oil using cotton swabs directly to acne, and the result can be observed in a few days.
Peppermint Essential Oil:
Peppermint herb is native to Europe and North America. The essential oil is extracted from the flowering parts and leaves of the peppermint plant. It has a sharp smell that is cool and refreshing at the same time. It is widely used for various health purposes. Some of these benefits are listed below:
- It is used in soaps and many cosmetics as a fragrance.
- It serves well for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive issues.
- It is mostly known for its topical use to get relief from severe headaches, joint and muscle pains, and inflammations.
- It also helps reduce cough and cold, improve mental state, and fight stress as an approach of Aromatherapy.
Rosemary Essential Oil:
Rosemary, an evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves, is native to the Mediterranean region and Europe. Although well known as a food flavor, rosemary is quite famous as an aromatic and medicinal plant throughout the globe. It has a powerful, refreshing herbal smell and great benefits.
- It helps in improving brain function and enhances concentration power.
- It reduces hair loss and promotes hair growth. It can be applied topically on the skin along with a base oil.
- It provides relief from pain and stress while uplifting your mood.
- It helps in reducing joint pains.
Bergamot Essential Oil:
Bergamot oil is extracted from the peels of the citrus fruits grown on Bergamot Orange trees. It has a sunny and pleasant citrus scent widely used in luxury candles and perfumes. It has a wide range of benefits like:
- It is used in Aromatherapy. Mix it with a carrier oil and use it as a body lotion and also in other body care products.
- It can treat acne when applied to your skin with a base oil overnight.
- Those with rough unmanageable curly hair can use it to soften and tame curls.
- It helps in reducing stress and fatigue and also in fighting food poisoning.
Although we discussed the various essential oils and their benefits, you should always remember that proper research or doctor consultation is a must before using these strong compounds. Knowing the risk factors when buying even the best essential oils brands is crucial. Most essential oils are poisonous and hence shouldn’t be consumed. It is suggested to always do a patch test before using a new one.