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What are the essential oils and how do they work?

Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine that uses plant extracts to enhance health and well-being, and often includes essential oils.

However, some health claims regarding these oils are controversial.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about essential oils and their health benefits.

What exactly are essential oils?

Essential oils are plant-derived chemicals.

The oils capture the aroma and flavour of the plant, or its "essence."

Each essential oil has a distinct aroma due to the presence of unique aromatic components.

Distillation (via steam and/or water) or other processes, such as cold pressing, are used to produce essential oils.

After the aromatic compounds have been extracted, they are mixed with a carrier oil to form a ready-to-use product.

The method by which the oils are produced is critical, because essential oils obtained by chemical procedures are not considered authentic essential oils.

What is the mechanism of action of essential oils?

Essential oils are most widely utilised in aromatherapy, which involves inhaling them through various techniques.

Essential oils should not be consumed.

Essential oils' molecules can interact with your body in a variety of ways.

Some plant compounds may be reduced when applied to the skin.

Certain application methods, such as applying with heat or to diverse parts of the body, are thought to increase absorption. However, there is a scarcity of research in this field.

Inhaling essential oil fragrances can excite your limbic system, which is a region of your brain that regulates emotions, behaviours, sense of smell, and long-term memory.

Surprisingly, the limbic system is strongly engaged in memory formation. This helps to explain why familiar odours might elicit memories or emotions.

The limbic system also regulates various unconscious physiological activities, including breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. As a result, some people believe essential oils might have a physical influence on your body.

However, investigations have yet to confirm this.

Popular kinds

There are over 90 different types of essential oils, each with its own distinct aroma and potential health advantages.

Here is a list of ten common essential oils, as well as the health benefits linked with them:

Peppermint: stimulates energy and aids digestion.

Lavender is a stress-relieving herb.

Sandalwood: used to calm nerves and aid with concentration.

Bergamot: used to relieve tension and treat skin diseases such as eczema.

Rose: used to lift one's spirits and alleviate worry.

Chamomile: used to boost mood and relax.

Ylang-Ylang: used to relieve headaches, nausea, and skin problems.

Tea tree oil is used to treat infections and enhance immunity.

Jasmine: used to treat depression, childbirth, and low libido.

Lemon: utilised to help with digestion, mood, headaches, and other ailments.

The Health Advantages of Essential Oils

Despite their widespread use, little is known about essential oils' ability to cure specific health concerns.

Here's a look at the research on some of the most prevalent health issues that essential oils and aromatherapy have been used to address.

Anxiety and stress

It is believed that 43 percent of people who suffer from stress and anxiety use some type of alternative therapy to help them feel better.

Initial research on aromatherapy has proven quite positive. Many studies have demonstrated that the aroma of particular essential oils can be used in conjunction with standard therapy to relieve anxiety and stress.

However, due to the smells of the chemicals, conducting blinded experiments and ruling out biases is difficult. As a result, numerous studies on the stress- and anxiety-relieving effects of essential oils have come up short.

Interestingly, utilising essential oils during a massage may help decrease stress, albeit the effects may only persist for the duration of the session.

Only ten studies were deemed to be solid enough to be analysed in a recent evaluation of over 201 papers. It also came to the conclusion that aromatherapy was ineffective for reducing anxiety.

Migraines and headaches

Two short trials conducted in the 1990s discovered that rubbing a peppermint oil and ethanol mixture on participants' foreheads and temples alleviated headache pain.

Recent studies have also found that putting peppermint and lavender oil to the skin reduces headache discomfort.

Furthermore, applying a blend of chamomile and sesame oil to the temples may help cure headaches and migraines. This is an old Persian headache treatment.

More high-quality research, however, are required.

Insomnia and sleep

Smelling lavender oil has been demonstrated to improve sleep quality in postpartum women and people with heart disease.

One meta-analysis looked at 15 studies on essential oils and sleep. The majority of research found that smelling the oils — predominantly lavender oil — improved sleep habits.

Inflammation reduction

It has been proposed that essential oils can aid in the treatment of inflammatory disorders. Some in vitro investigations indicate that they have anti-inflammatory properties.

In one mouse trial, consuming a mixture of thyme and oregano essential oils helped induce colitis remission. Two research on caraway and rosemary oils in rats yielded comparable results.

However, relatively few human studies have been conducted to investigate the impact of these oils on inflammatory illnesses. As a result, their efficacy and safety are unknown.

Antibiotics and antimicrobial agents

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has rekindled interest in the discovery of novel chemicals capable of combating bacterial illnesses.

Test-tube experiments have extensively explored essential oils, such as peppermint and tea tree oil, for their antibacterial benefits, yielding some promising results.

While the results of these test-tube studies are intriguing, they may not necessarily reflect the effects that these oils have on your body. They do not demonstrate that a specific essential oil may treat bacterial infections in humans.

Other applications

Aside from aromatherapy, essential oils have a wide range of applications.

Many people use them to smell their houses or to refresh items such as laundry.

They are also utilised as natural fragrances in homemade cosmetics and high-quality natural items.

Furthermore, essential oils have been proposed as a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to man-made mosquito repellents such as DEET.

However, the outcomes of their effectiveness have been equivocal.

Certain oils, such as citronella, have been found in studies to repel certain types of mosquitos for up to 2 hours. When used in conjunction with vanillin, the protection time can be extended to up to 3 hours.

Furthermore, the qualities of essential oils suggest that certain of them could be employed industrially to enhance food shelf life.

How to Select the Best Essential Oils

Many firms claim that their oils are "pure" or "medical grade," but these terms aren't widely defined and hence have little meaning.

Because essential oils are the products of an uncontrolled sector, their quality and content can vary widely.

To ensure that you only buy high-quality oils, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Purity: Look for an oil that solely contains aromatic plant compounds and no additions or synthetic oils. Pure oils are typically labelled with the botanical name of the plant (such as Lavandula officinalis) rather than words like "essential oil of lavender."

True essential oils are those that have been altered the least by the extraction process. Choose an essential oil that has been extracted without the use of chemicals using distillation or mechanical cold pressing.

Purchase a brand that has a reputation for creating high-quality products.

Side effects and safety

The fact that something is natural does not imply that it is safe.

Essential oils, like plants and herbal goods, contain various bioactive components that can be harmful to your health.

Most essential oils, however, are regarded harmless whether breathed or mixed with a base oil for use on your skin. Keep in mind that people in your area, such as pregnant women, children, and pets, may be inhaling the perfume.

Nonetheless, they may have some negative effects, such as:


Attacks of asthma


allergy symptoms

While a rash is the most common adverse effect, essential oils can produce more serious responses, and they have been linked to one death.

Lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and ylang-ylang are the oils most typically connected with unpleasant responses.

Oils strong in phenols, such as cinnamon, can cause skin irritation and should not be applied on the skin without a base oil. Meanwhile, essential oils derived from citrus fruits boost the skin's sensitivity to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn.

Swallowing essential oils is not advised because it can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal.

Few studies have been conducted to investigate the safety of these oils for pregnant or breastfeeding women, who are normally advised to avoid them.


If essential oils are blended with a base oil, they are typically regarded safe to inhale or apply to the skin. They should not be consumed.

However, there is no evidence to back many of their linked health claims, and their effectiveness is frequently exaggerated.

Using essential oils as a supplemental therapy for minor health issues is most likely safe.

However, if you have a significant health problem or are on medicine, you should consult with your doctor before using them.

What are the essential oils and how do they work? What are the essential oils and how do they work? Reviewed by ViralBlossom on June 27, 2021 Rating: 5

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