Essential oils

Essential oils have been used for ages.  In ancient Egypt and China, you find records or these oils being used for various reasons.  There is no hard evidence of when it was being used in Egypt, but dates go back to around 3 500 BC.

What exactly are essential oils?  Essential oils are compounds that are extracted from plants. The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavour or “essence.”  These unique aromatic compounds give each oil its characteristic essence.

Essential oils are usually extracted by distillation; often using steam.  Other processes include expression, solvent extraction, manual extraction from the peel of an orange (for example), absolute oil extraction, resin tapping, wax embedding, and cold pressing. These oils are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products.  Essential oils are also used for adding flavour to food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products.

There are many different essential oil brands and flavours on the market today, used by massage- and aromatherapy therapists and the general public alike.  I am going to look at a few, well-known essential oils today.

Carrier oils:  vegetable oils that are derived from the seeds, kernels or nuts from a plant.  Coconut oil, Apricot kernel oil, Jojoba oil, Grapeseed oil, Avocado oil, Rosehip oil, Almond oil, Olive oil, Arnica oil, Argan oil, Flaxseed oil, Broccoli seed oil, Evening Primrose oil, and others, are just some of the many different types of carrier oils.

Carrier oils are used, together with essential oils, to dilute the latter.  Due to its high concentration, essential oils can only be used in small amounts.  When you add a carrier oil, you can, when massaging, for example, cover the whole body without causing any skin irritation, when combining these oils.

Here are some of the above-mentioned carrier oils’ benefits:

Coconut oil:  moisturises dry skin, is anti-fungal and antibacterial;

Apricot kernel oil:  rich in vitamins A, B and E; can help to reduce skin inflammation;

Jojoba oil:  deeply nourishing, especially for dry skin; helps to balance the sebum;

Grapeseed oil:  protects the skin and assists in reduction of wrinkles and stretch marks;

Avocado oil:  rich in vitamins A, D and E; moisturizes dry, rough skin, hydrates skin, nails and hair;

Rosehip oil:  good for skin regeneration; treats scars and stretch marks;

Almond oil: contains antioxidants; easily absorbed;

Olive oil: contains healthy fatty acids, antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory;

Arnica oil: contains helenalin (an potent anti-inflammatory substance); antibacterial; fatty acids; can be used on its own to treat muscle ache, inflammation and help heal bruises;

Argan oil: contains omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, antioxidants, vitamins A and E; good for skin and hair;

Flaxseed oil: relieve common skin disorders like eczema; improves skin’s elasticity and texture; full of omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-lineic acids (which helps to reduce inflammations)

Broccoli seed oil: moisturizer; filled with omega 3-, 6- and 9 fatty acids; high in antioxidants; reduces dryness and promotes healthy hair

Evening Primrose oil: anti-inflammatory; improves nerve function and skin’s elasticity.

Essential oil-examples:

Lavender oil:  many benefits, including aiding sleep and relaxation, relieving headaches, reduces itching and swelling when applied topically;

Rose oil:  high in antioxidants; can aid in treating acne and improving overall skin complexion;

Hyssop oil:  it can help to minimize scarring, reduce inflammation and also acts as an overall healing agent;

Grapefruit oil:  extracted from the peel, grapefruit oil is known for its anti-fungal properties that can help to reduce harmful bacteria on the skin;

Lemon oil:  uplifting oil; loaded with antioxidants that helps to reduce swelling;

Peppermint oil:  popular cooling oil; assist in muscular tension, sunburn and skin rashes;

Roman Chamomile oil:  another companion of the well-known chamomile oil, roman chamomile assists in treating skin conditions like inflammation and eczema;

Tea tree oil:  probably one of the most well-known oils, tea tree oil is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral oil; help to treat eczema, reduces reactions in people allergic to nickel, and treats insect bites and staph infections.

Please remember to only use a small amount first, in case you have an allergic reaction.  Always dilute the essential oils, never take in orally, and make sure to buy only the pure essential oil-brands.

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