by: Colleen Perry
Herbs and botanicals were most likely the first medicines known to man. We are familiar with the aromas of our most common herbs and botanicals, such as garlic, onions, peppermint, basil, lemons and limes.
But we are less familiar with the essential products produced by the life blood of these plants–the volatile liquids called essential oils.
Essential oils are lipids. They are easily absorbed by the body but do not dissolve in water. Lipids store energy and form parts of cell structure. They contain oxygenating molecules that transport nutrients, cleanse cells and receptor sites and oxygenate the blood. The chemical components of essential oils give them their medicinal properties.
Essential oils promote healthy skin and relieve irritation. They are known to boost physical energy and stimulate mental focus. They have been shown to support healthy immune functions and improve respiratory health. Essential oils provide natural stress relief and can create calm. They are widely used to relieve discomfort in joints and muscles.
There are significant differences between essential oils that simply smell good and those that are therapeutic. In order to achieve therapeutic-grade classification, each essential oil must achieve the designation naturally, without excess manipulation and refinement. And they must meet specific criteria in four key areas: plants, preparation, purity and potency.
For quality oils look for a batch number on the bottle as well as the botanical name of the plant (if it is a single oil). Over 90% of the essential oils that are sold in America are fragrance grades, usually adulterated and/or they have synthetic ingredients and are not suitable for healing applications. Therefore, education is critical.
At some level, most adults are familiar with some commonly used essential oils. There are some interesting twists on some oils that we use almost daily.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) It’s more than a breath mint. According to Dr. William N. Dember of the University of Cincinnati, inhaling peppermint oil increases mental accuracy by 28%. It is also known to support the respiratory system. Peppermint is stimulating, energizing, and empowering. It can be used as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Uses include respiratory support, head discomfort, nausea, and fever-reducing.
Lavender (Lavendula agustafolia) For centuries lavender has been used as a relaxant. It’s added to bathwater and lotions to reduce nervous tension. Lavender supports the integumentary system (skin, nails, hair and exocrine glands). It’s sometimes called the Swiss Army Knife of essential oils.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) Known as the king of oils, frankincense is often used for mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.
Lemon (Citrus limon) Lemon oil offers an almost cure-all list of benefits. It is used as a cleaner, astringent, antifungal, antibacterial and calming agent. Lemon oil contains d-limonene which has been shown to protect and support healthy cell growth, improve microcirculation, alertness and memory. It is believed to be beneficial in supporting the circulatory and cardiovascular system, and it is used in reducing anxiety.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) This well-researched botanical has been used for centuries as an oil for the overall good health of organs such as the liver, brain and heart. It is used to reduce indigestion, hair growth, oral health, skin care, respiratory and immune system health. Rosemary also comes with a long list of aromatherapy benefits such as stress relief.
For more information on these and other essential oils, including their beneficial uses, contact Diane Thompson Manering at 916 224-4242.
Diane is an Independent Consultant for Young Living Essential Oils.