A Crash Course on Essential Oils

essential oils

Essential oils have been used for many years to treat numerous medical conditions. They are all-natural tinctures of certain herbs, flowers, and other plants. If you have ever used essential oils for a skin or other medical condition, then you likely understand how easy they are to come by and how easy it is to make your own medications. If you haven’t used essential oils in any capacity, then you may be wondering exactly what they are and what benefits they can provide to you.

What Are Essential Oils?

As noted above, essential oils are all-natural tinctures that are extracted from various herbs, flowers, and other plants. They are not to be confused with fragrance oils, which are actually synthetic and do not provide the same positive medicinal properties of essential oils. Anything called an “essential oil” is going to be all-natural.

Essential oils are very concentrated amounts of their original substance. For instance, geranium essential oil could basically be described as a liquid amount of geranium at the molecular level. Because of this high concentration, essential oils tend to be very potent. As a general rule, you should not ingest essential oils. Their medicinal properties are almost exclusively absorbed through the skin.

What Are Carrier Oils?

When you’re making a concoction of essential oils, you will want to include any number of carrier oils to dilute the main ingredients. For instance, if you combine lavender essential oil and cedarwood essential oil to use as a skin ointment, the combination of the two may be too potent to be safe. Adding a carrier oil, however, can make the combination safe to apply to the skin. There are numerous carrier oils to choose from and some of the most popular include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Sweet almond
  • Avocado oil
  • Sesame
  • Grapeseed

Again, all of these carrier oils are all-natural. They are merely used to dilute the potency of otherwise strong essential oils. If you use an essential oil concoction on infants or toddlers, be sure to always dilute the solution with a carrier oil. A baby’s sensitive skin likely won’t be able to handle the potency of pure essential oils.

What Are Essential Oils Used For?

Essential oils can help treat numerous conditions and diseases, and they don’t all have to be absorbed through the skin. Many people use essential oil concoctions to treat chronic skin conditions like eczema. In some cases, essential oil ointments are used to relieve muscle tightness, chronic pain, and inflammation.

Other people use essential oils simply for fragrance. They do this by diffusing the oils in the air (similar to aromatherapy). This is decidedly different than using “air fresheners” because air fresheners tend to use synthetic ingredients that can be considered toxic to some. Inhaling essential oils can also provide benefits for respiratory congestion. It may also help in the reduction of stress and an increase in mental acuity.

In any event, it’s clear that essential oils can help both cosmetically and medicinally. It certainly makes sense to add a few tinctures to your personal medicine cabinet.