People have been using essential oils to cure ailments, relieve stress and promote overall wellness for centuries—and all over the globe. But what are they, exactly? And just what do they do? Consider this your beginner’s guide to essential oils; we’ll teach you how to get started with essential oils and how they can improve your day-to-day life.
What Are Essential Oils And Where Did They Come From?
If you want to learn how to get started with essential oils, you first need to understand what they are. Essential oils aren’t technically oils at all; they’re actually plant compounds extracted from a plant’s flowers, leaves, roots, bark or peels. The earliest evidence of humans using plants to heal various ailments was discovered through cave paintings found in the Dordogne region of France that date back to 18,000 BCE. Ancient Egyptians were also among some of the first people to use essential oils as part of their medical practice, as well as for beauty treatments and food preparation.
In modern times, the potential healing effects of essential oils were rediscovered by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse—a man largely regarded as the father of modern aromatherapy. A French chemist, Gattefosse healed a bad hand burn with pure lavender oil in 1937 which spurred him to further examine other potential benefits of essential oils.
What Do Essential Oils Do?
Over the years, modern use of essential oils has reached the U.S, though it’s still not as readily accepted here as it is in European countries, where medical aromatherapy is extremely popular. Many physicians in Europe prescribe oils as part of a patient’s medical care, such as Dr. Wolfgang Steflitsch, a physician and vice president of the Austrian Association of Aromatherapy and Aroma Care.
Steflitsch notes that there is high-quality evidence that essential oils can help treat infections, provide relief from sleep problems and pain and improve anxiety and depression. We happen to love dabbing a bit of lavender on our wrists when we’re feeling stressed, or adding some eucalyptus to our bath to soothe a congested nose and chest.
Of course, it’s best to consult your doctor with any medical condition you may have. But just like meditation, why not incorporate alternative therapies to help improve your day-to-da health
5 Ways to Use Essential Oils
There are many ways to use essential oils, including adding a few drops to your bath water or body cream. Here are our favorite five ways to use essential oils.
- Put them in a diffuser
- Dab a little behind your ears, wrists, or anywhere on your skin
- Take a whiff
- Add a few drops to your water
- Mix a couple drops with your lotion and rub on skin
The Best Essential Oils For Common Ailments
Now that you know how to get started with essential oils, here are some of our favorite oils for treating common ailments.
- Cuts and burns
- Sore Muscles
- Itchy skin
Lemon helps with:
- Sore throats
- Alkalizing your body
- Cell regeneration
- Wound treatment
- Dry skin
Eucalyptus can help treat:
- Colds and flu
- Sinus pressure or pain
- Itchy scalp
Always be sure you check the label on your essential oil to make sure the manner in which you want to use it is safe. And double check that you’re buying pure essential oils—not synthetic. Synthetic oils (often sold at drugstores) do not have the same potency as pure essential oils, nor are they ingestible. Our favorite brands of pure essential oils are doTerra and Young Living. And if you want to read more about essential oils, check out these great resources:
Essential Oils in Diffusers
Using essential oils in a diffuser is a great way to fill a room in your house with specific scents that can benefit your health! Using aromatherapy diffusers like this one, you can blend different oils together for different purposes. Check out these essential oil diffuser recipes to get started today:
Do you use essential oils for health and wellness? Let us know in the comments section below!