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What are essential oils? Application and side effects

Essential oils are concentrated extracts from various plants. Practitioners use them in natural and alternative health practices such as aromatherapy and naturopathy.

Many plants contain some potentially helpful compounds. In many cases, however, there is insufficient evidence to suggest their use as a treatment or cure for disease.

This article will tell you more about the uses, benefits, and possible side effects of essential oils.

essential oils lying on a table Share on PinterestCold pressing and water distillation are two ways that manufacturers make essential oils.

Essential oils are liquid extracts from various potentially beneficial plants. Manufacturing processes can extract the beneficial compounds from these plants.

Essential oils often have a much stronger odor than the plants they are derived from and contain more active ingredients. This has to do with the amount of plant material needed to make essential oil.

There are several ways that manufacturers extract the essential oils, including:

  • Steam or water distillation. In this process, water or hot steam is passed through the plants, which removes the essential compounds from the plant material.
  • Cold pressing. This process works by mechanically pressing or squeezing plant material to release essential juices or oils. A simple example of this would be to smell the fresh scent of lemon after squeezing or rubbing a lemon peel.

After extracting the active ingredients from the plant material, some manufacturers may add them to a carrier oil to get more product from the same amount of essential oil. These products would no longer be pure essential oils, but a mixture.

Manufacturers use essential oils to make a range of products. The cosmetics and makeup industries use essential oils to make perfumes, add fragrance to creams and body washes, and even as a source of natural antioxidants in some beauty products.

Many naturopaths such as aromatherapists use essential oils. In aromatherapy, these essential oils are diffused into the air.

Aromatherapists believe that inhaling essential oils could allow them to get to the lungs and bloodstream, where some of the potentially helpful compounds can benefit the body.

Anyone who has used menthol steam massage to cleanse their sinuses has used some form of aromatherapy. As the authors of a 2013 study noted, inhaling menthol can reduce the feeling of congestion and shortness of breath in this way.

In addition to inhalation, the addition of essential oils to a carrier oil and massaging into the skin can also release the active ingredients into the body.

People should never apply essential oils directly to the skin without diluting them, unless under the direct guidance of a doctor.

It is also dangerous to ingest essential oils. Essential oils are not only extremely concentrated, but can also irritate the delicate cells in the body.

In rare cases, some people may ingest oral capsules containing essential oils. However, people should only do this with the guidance of a doctor.

Usually, however, a person shouldn’t put commercially available essential oils near their mouth or other places where they can get inside the body, such as the eyes, ear, anus, or vagina.

Some essential oils can be effective depending on what a person is using them for.

There are a number of plants that contain potentially active compounds. Manufacturers have processed dozens of these vegetable oils into essential oil products. Some of the most popular essential oils are:

  • lavender
  • peppermint
  • Tea tree
  • lemon
  • sweet orange
  • eucalyptus
  • orange
  • chamomile
  • ylang ylang

The compounds in these oils can have some health effects on the human body. The following articles provide more information on what general health conditions can benefit from using essential oils:

Many people think that because essential oils are natural products, they will not have any side effects. That is not true. Some of the possible side effects of essential oils include:

  • Irritation and burning sensation: Always dilute oils with a carrier oil before applying it to the skin. First, apply a small amount to a small area of ​​skin to test for possible reactions.
  • Asthma attacks: While inhaling essential oils is safe for most people, some asthmatics may react to inhaling the fumes.
  • a headache: Inhaling essential oils can help some people with their headaches, but inhaling too much can lead to headaches for others.

Accidental ingestion of essential oils can be dangerous and potentially life threatening.

A 2012 case study looked at a near-fatal case of someone who ingested peppermint oil. While most people don’t experience such severe reactions, many oils can act as toxins in the body.

Anyone who has accidentally ingested essential oils should call poison control. Those in the United States should call 1-800-222-1222.

Have the bottle ready to describe it to you.

The penetration of essential oils into the eyes or mucous membranes can also cause burns and damage to the surrounding area. If essential oils come into contact with the eyes, rinse them thoroughly with water and consult a doctor.

Keep essential oils out of the reach of children and keep them separate from other products. Some essential oils can be fatal to pets, even if a person is only using them in a diffuser. Always inquire about which oils are safe around pets or ask a veterinarian.

It is still unclear what effect essential oils have on pregnant or breastfeeding women and their children. While some consider them safe, many doctors advise pregnant women to avoid essential oils.

Essential oils are liquid extracts from potentially beneficial plants. People are starting to use essential oils on a large scale for a variety of common conditions, and some research shows that they can help relieve symptoms in some cases.

Essential oils are generally safe when a person uses them properly. Always dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin and never ingest them.