Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile components of medicinal plants. They are the plants’ natural immune system, which defends against insects, harsh environmental components and disease. Those defense mechanisms can be used by us to bring about some pretty substantial healing properties.Essential oils can be used for:
Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy, which means that as you breathe in the aromas of the natural oils, your mood is shifted. Aromatherapy promotes holistic wellness by integrating mind, body and spirit. It can also have an enhanced effect when the oils are used during massage, because the client benefits from both the aromatherapy and the oils being absorbed by the body.
Essential oils are used frequently in various herbal products, such as soaps, lotions, facial creams, bath salts, lip balm, laundry detergent and more. They add healing properties while also giving the product a natural and beautiful aroma.
Essential oils are also beneficial for many ailments when used on cuts and scrapes, bug bites, headaches and sunburn and as vapor rubs.
M. Flora Peterson discusses how to extract and use essential oils in the following video. She explains that essential oils work at the cellular level, and when applied to the skin, they pass through the cell walls and cause a reaction in the body. That’s what makes these wonderful oils so powerful and helpful!
The video above gives you an overview of the 3 methods for harvesting oils, which are:
- Steam Distillation – The oils are carried out with hot steam and are collected in a cooling tube.
- Expression/Cold Pressed – High pressure forces the oil out. This method is especially used to extract the oils from fruit rinds, such as oranges, lemons and tangerines.
- Solvent Extraction – This method is used for fragile plants that can’t handle high heat, such as jasmine, hyacinth and amber. It is also the least preferred method because the process uses solvents, like petroleum, methanol and ethanol. This method should not be used for aromatherapy oils because the solvents are still in the oil when used on the body.
Flora then talks about some the uses for essential oils:
Adding Essential Oils to Carrier Oils
Carrier oils are used in conjunction with essential oils to apply them to the body. Since essential oils are so concentrated, you will only need one or two drops per ounce of carrier oil. The best carrier oils to use are safflower, apricot, grapeseed or jojoba oils (Jojoba oil is recommended because it is closest to the oils that your skin naturally produces).
Many people add essential oils to an olive oil or beeswax base to make their own lotions and creams. If you don’t want to create your own creams from scratch, essential oils are great for adding to unscented, natural lotions you buy at the store.
You can use a dropper bottle to hold your essential oil, and you can them apply a drop to your temples or wrists to get a wonderful whiff of the aroma as needed. Many people also add a few drops of the oils to water and store them in spray bottles to create a mist that can be sprayed on the body or on pillows or furniture. An aromatherapy bath or foot soak can also be a nice end to a stressful day.
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