In holistic nutrition school, I am introduced to many modalities of natural health—it’s not all about nutrition. I am always trying new ways to improve my health and wellness, and sometimes on my health path, I follow my nose.
A couple of months ago, my nose led me to an introductory seminar on essential oils. In this seminar, I learned about aromatherapy—also known as essential oil therapy. Yeah I know how it sounds—a man surrounded by beautiful fragrances in a room full of women. It may sound a little feminine, but I am always open to trying new things, especially when it can improve my health.
And this is what I want to share with you: everything I learned about how you can improve your health with essential oils.
What Are Essential Oils?
It’s true; the scents from various essential oils can help treat many health conditions. In the essential oil seminar, I was able to witness the therapeutic effects of essential oils for myself. An essential oil magically relieved my headache, and it also helped calm my emotions, which seemed to be out of control at the moment.
But what are essential oils exactly? They are simply volatile aromatic compounds found within flowers, seeds, stems, roots, and other plant parts.
After the seminar I decided to purchase an essential oil to take home. There were so many that I couldn’t decide what to choose. Next thing I knew, I had five essential oils. I did some research, and discovered how they would help my health. And I’d like to share this research with you.
Healing Essential Oil #1: Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus)
Eucalyptus oil is the go-to essential oil for colds, the flu, or allergies. I purchased the oil as a holiday gift for some people on my list. Eucalyptus oil may smell familiar—it’s an active ingredient in “Vicks VapoRub.” In aromatherapy, eucalyptus oil is also helpful for headaches, measles, rheumatoid arthritis, poor circulation, muscular aches and pains, skin infections, and respiratory infections, such as bronchitis, coughs, sinusitis, throat infections, and asthma. It can also help to control blood sugar and to relieve mental exhaustion and pneumonia. It also benefits dental health, and can be found within toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Healing Essential Oil #2: Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)
I wanted to know which essential oil would be best for adrenal fatigue, and the teacher suggested basil oil. Evidence also suggests that basil oil can effectively treat mental exhaustion. In a randomized, controlled, double-blind study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2013, researchers found that the inhalation of basil essential oil can help reduce mental fatigue or burnout. Basil oil is also used for digestion, respiratory conditions, colds, the flu, blood circulation, eye health, depression, and migraine headaches. Basil oil can also be added to soups or pasta dishes. One important note: pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid basil essential oil.
Healing Essential Oil #3: Lemon (Citrus Limonum)
The scent of lemon essential oil is very inviting. In fact, a couple drops of lemon oil in water can help treat many health concerns, such as digestion, weight loss, depression, and overall immune function. Why is lemon essential oil powerful? It contains about 70% of the antioxidant d-limonene. Lemon oil is also known to relieve skin conditions, such as acne, boils, warts, and varicose veins.
Healing Essential Oil #4: Frankincense (Boswellia Carteri)
Frankincense has been considered a very effective essential oil for centuries. Frankincense oil is often derived from the boswellia genus tree, Boswellia carteri. In the Bible, the herb is well known as one of the gifts to baby Jesus. The essential oil is also very valuable—especially when it comes to your health. It contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, carminative, and digestive properties. Overall, frankincense is largely considered useful for multiple health conditions, such as depression, asthma, respiratory infections, headaches, digestion, stress, anxiety, and many cancer types.
Healing Essential Oil #5: Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
Peppermint is known for its strong minty aroma. Peppermint essential oil can be added to herbal teas to help improve digestion. A drop of peppermint essential oil on your abdomen can also help relieve stomach pain. The essential oil also has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, carminative, and antibacterial properties. It also helps relieve acne, muscle and joint pain, colds, mental alertness, headaches, stress, and respiratory conditions. When peppermint is diffused, it can also improve indigestion and calm hysteria and nerves.
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are also simple to use. I use a diffuser with most oils; however, many oils can also be ingested or applied topically. Also, I had a massage the other day, and the registered massage therapist applied essential oils. This is not the case with every essential oil. For example, certain hot essential oils may cause irritation, and should be diluted before applied to your skin. Essential oils to avoid on the body include cinnamon, basil, clove, thyme, cassia, oregano, nutmeg, and the thieves blend. It is best to consult an aromatherapy practitioner for the proper use of essential oils.
I’ve suggested five great essential oils, and that’s a good start. But know that there are approximately 200 varieties of essential oils for you to discover, so your journey to better health using essential oils is just beginning.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Lawless, J., The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2013), 53–54, 93–94, 99, 119, 132.
Varney, E., et al., “Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot study,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine January 2013; 19(1): 69–71, doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0089.
“Health Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil,” Organic Facts web site; https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-eucalyptus-essential-oil.html, last accessed February 25, 2015.
“Frankincense Oil: The King of Oils,” Mercola.com web site; http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/frankincense-oil.aspx, last accessed February 25, 2015.