Essential Oils are one of the oldest forms of medicine–but are just now making a splash into the mainstream wellness scene. We were curious to learn what essential oils are actually good for and if they can heal everyday ailments that plague us on the regular. To gain some insight, we tapped founder of the NY Institute of Aromatherapy and co-author of the forthcoming book FOOD TO FACE BEAUTY, Amy Galper.
What are essential oils? Essential oils are highly concentrated fat-loving liquids that contain volatile aromatic compounds. A fat loving (lipophilic) substance means its molecules easily dissolve in fixed nut and seed oils and are repelled by water. These volatile aromatic compounds are generally extracted from the roots, seeds, flowers, wood, leaves, fruit and needles of aromatic plants using water and steam. Other methods, like C02 extraction and cold pressing the peels of citrus fruits, are also used.
They are called “essential” because these extracted aromatic compounds contain the essence of the plant’s aroma. Although they are are also known as “oils” – they are actually not at all greasy feeling. In fact they are light, dry and evaporate quickly, And the reason why we call them “oils” is because when added to water, they float on the surface.
Essential Oils as Plant Medicine: Essential Oils have been integrated into herbal medicine practice for thousands of years. Their curative effects have been well documented throughout the centuries to support the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Essential Oils are the core of what we call Modern Aromatherapy, and is an ideal complementary care modality to promote the wellbeing of the body, mind and spirit.
Why can essential oils be so effective? Essential oils are powerfully effective because they are quintessentially holistic. When applied topically, the complex array of molecules is absorbed through our skin and connects to our blood vessels and can help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, increase circulation, to name a few physical (body) therapeutic actions. And, at the same time the essential oils are being absorbed into our bloodstream, we are smelling the aromatic compounds on the surface of our skin, and those olfactory messages trigger emotional, psychological and spiritual responses. Essential oils affect body, mind and spirit simultaneously.
Which essential oils are good for? For each of these issues, blend a few drops of each of the essential oils together and then add the mix to an unscented nut and seed oil, like olive, or almond, sesame or coconut, or add to an unscented cream, and massage on temples, back of neck, belly or wherever else needed. Or you can drop a few drops of the blend onto a cotton ball and sniff as needed. Do not ingest, and keep away from children.
Common Ailments + Their Essential Oil “Prescriptions”:
Headaches: Peppermint, eucalyptus + frankincense
Insomnia: Roman chamomile, clary sage + lavender
Seasonal Allergies: German chamomile, marjoram + white pine
Digestive issues: Fennel, Ginger + grapefruit
Lack of focus: Rosemary, spearmint + sage
Depression: Red Mandarin, ylang ylang + rose geranium
Hangover: Lemon, juniper berry + cypress
Intro by: Ava Donaldson
Photograph Courtesy: Parisienne Farm Girl