Beyond Beauty – The Healing Power of Essential Oils
Essential oils started to gain popularity almost two decades ago and they are once more seeing a resurgence. These plant oils are usually inhaled with aromatherapy diffusers, applied topically on skin, or ingested directly. Although they are most widely used as beauty products and skin treatments, essential oils offer a wide range of benefits, some of which we still don’t fully understand. Based on current research here is what we know about some of the most popular essential oils.
Therapeutic Benefits of Popular Essential Oils
Lemon essential oil has an invigorating aroma that instantly raises energy levels. It is regarded as a mood booster that can help relieve anxiety. Evidence from animal studies suggests that the essential oil may also help lower the risk of weight gain, especially when dealing with drug-induced obesity (1).
The fragrance of lavender is one that is highly sought after and with good cause. The subtle floral fragrance is instantly relaxing and studies suggest that inhaling lavender essential oil aroma may also provide relief from headaches (2). Lavender essential oil is also said to have a mild sedative effect, but it’s no substitute for a melatonin supplement.
Popular with herbalists and aromatherapists alike, chamomile is already widely recognized for its medicinal value. The essential oil is just as valuable when used in aromatherapy diffusers. It has a calming effect and has also been found to relieve inflammatory conditions and skin disorders like eczema (3).
Another essential oil that is popular with both herbalists and aromatherapists, clove oil is recognized for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and analgesic benefits (4). This is why it is often used in dental hygiene products and is one of the best remedies for toothaches.
Like lemon, bergamot is a citric essential oil that offers similar health benefits. It is regarded as energizing and is often used as a mood booster to counter chronic stress and anxiety. Although more research is needed, bergamot may come to play a role in the fight against cardiac disease as it is being investigated for potential cholesterol-lowering effects.
Eucalyptus essential oil is another important ingredient in traditional or folk medicine. The essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy to treat upper respiratory tract infections, sinusitis, and congestion. Studies have confirmed immunomodulatory and antimicrobial effects of eucalyptus, and it is commonly used as an ingredient in mainstream medications and chest rubs to treat colds and coughs (5).
Jasmine is probably one of the most popular floral scents in India, second only to rose. The sweet-smelling floral essential oil is regarded as an effective stress reliever, but it is most notable for its skin care benefits. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, jasmine oil is helpful in the management of skin conditions like psoriasis (6).
Keep in mind that when using essential oils, it is best to use them for inhalation or as topical applications after diluting with carrier oils. There is inadequate research on the safety of ingesting essential oils and experts warn that many of them can be toxic.
It is also worth noting that the health benefits of essential oils are marginal, with a few exceptions. If you’re serious about improving your health, you need to focus on nutrition and lifestyle habits, as they have a far more significant impact on wellbeing.
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