Essential oils smell great, especially some of the most fragrant oils like jasmine, neroli, patchouli, rose, sandalwood and ylang ylang, have long been used in perfume-making. But they are also good remedies for anxiety, stress, pain and other health problems.
How Essential Oils Are Used
Most essential oils are inhaled via diffusion or applied topically to the skin after being mixed with a carrier oil. Other essential oils are supposed to be ingested, but medical professionals and health authorities generally warn against the safety of this method.
When essential oils are inhaled via aromatherapy, compounds are absorbed through receptors in our noses, which send messages to our olfactory system, the part of the brain responsible for our sense of smell. Eventually, these messages reach other areas of the brain, such as the limbic system, which plays a role in our emotions.
When essential oils are applied topically for cosmetic reasons or to treat aches and pains, the compounds are absorbed into the skin and eventually enter the bloodstream before they’re metabolized by the liver.
Based on scientific research rosemary, sage and peppermint oils might improve memory and cognition to a degree, and lavender has been linked with improved sleep. However, just don’t expect essential oils to be magical elixirs, they shouldn’t replace standard medical care.
Let’s explores the effects of some popular essential oils.
Lavender is one of the most popular scents in aromatherapy. Studies in both mice and horses have found that the scent of lavender is calming. In humans, small-scale studies found that it might have a modest effect on anxiety.
Lavender is also a common sleep aid. A review of studies concluded that it may offer some small to moderate sleep-promoting benefits. However, the review called for larger and more rigorous studies that investigate lavender and sleep.
Beyond that, lavender may have some pro-social benefits. A study that involved 90 people found that the aroma of lavender was more effective than a control in promoting a sense of trust among strangers.
A study of 20 people conducted by research team at Northumbria University linked rosemary to improved memory and cognition, particularly among older adults. Another study found that rosemary might improve test scores among school-aged kids. Children who took tests in rooms scented with rosemary received higher scores than children in nonscented rooms.
Rosemary oil is also reputed to strengthen immunity, support the body’s elimination of waste, to comfort aching muscles and to calm irritated skin.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is often found in cosmetic products because of its purported anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied to the skin, tea tree oil might be an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne.
A review study found tea tree oil was better than placebos, and just as effective as benzoyl peroxide, in stopping pimples. In addition to acne, several older studies suggest tea tree oil may be helpful for nail fungus and athlete’s foot.
Peppermint oil, which may have pain-relieving qualities, has been used for centuries to treat gastrointestinal problems. But unlike some other essential oils, there’s pretty sound evidence to back up these claims. Reviews of studies have found that taking peppermint oil capsules may ease irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, like gastrointestinal pain.
Eucalyptus is believed to have a number of medicinal properties, although not all of them have been confirmed by research.
Respiratory conditions such as asthma and sinusitis may be helped by inhaling steam with added eucalyptus oil. The oil reacts with mucous membranes, not only reducing mucus but helping loosen it so that you can cough it up.
The Australian aborigines used eucalyptus leaves to treat wounds and prevent infection. Today the diluted oil may still be used on the skin to fight inflammation and promote healing.
NOTE: If you’re thinking about trying essential oils, make sure you check with your doctor first. No advice is offered or given in this article or this publication
source: Discover magazine