03 Jun Key Facts About Essential Oils
Here are some well-known facts about essential oils. They:
- relieve pain
- improve mood
- help with sleep
- boost immunity
- tighten and improve skin
- promote hair growth
But that’s not all these wonderful plant oils can do for us. They’re also excellent additions to natural cleaners, help refresh fabrics, deodorize spaces, and do a host of other wonders!
They really do seem to be too-good-to-be-true, don’t they? So it’s not surprising then, that essential oils are looked at with deep suspicion. There is considerable confusion and even controversy surrounding essential oils.
The purpose of this article is to clarify the facts and myths around essential oils so that we don’t end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. There is little need for us to be wary of essential oils once we learn more about what they are and how they function.
What really are essential oils?
Essential oils are powerful, natural compound plant extracts. The oils capture the essence of the plant and are mostly obtained through distillation.
Essential oils are hence, concentrated and highly potent in nature. And they shouldn’t be used casually.
There’s a lot of information out there about essential oils. There are opinions and controversies. But there’s also considerable ongoing scientific research on essential oils.
Five facts about essential oils
#1 Essential oils are highly concentrated
Did you know that 1 lemon contains around 5 drops of oil? Or that it takes approximately 60,000 roses to yield 1 ounce of rose oil? (This, of course, would indicate why genuine and good-quality essential oils are so expensive.) But what we’re also getting at is the highly concentrated and potent nature of these oils. Distilled essential oils are 50 to 100 times more concentrated than the oils contained in the plants themselves. And so it is important to always bear this in mind when handling essential oils.
One principle to be kept in mind for using essential oils is that they must be diluted in a carrier oil. And that they must not be used directly on the skin or be ingested (unless specified).
#2 Essential oils work differently for different people
Just like most alternate and natural healing systems, aromatherapy also works differently on different individuals. Hence, administering essential oils to babies and children, pregnant or lactating mothers, and the elderly should ideally be on the recommendation of an expert.
And as with other natural ingredients, some people may even have allergic reactions to essential oils. It’s therefore, always a good idea to do a patch test when using diluted oils on skin or hair.
#3 Essential oils do expire
Essential oils do not last indefinitely. Their quality does deteriorate over time. The process of oxidation in particular can impact the quality and longevity of oils. So while they may not spoil like food or go rancid, truth is, that they do change over time. This would reduce their efficacy and make it unsafe to use post-expiration. (Most essential oils have a shelf-life of 3 years.)
#4 Not all essential oils are equal
The quality of essential oils depends on the process of extraction. Cold-pressing and distillation are the chief methods for extracting essential oils. Adulteration and dilution can also affect the purity of oils. Further, the method of storage and transportation can also impact the quality of oils. So all essential oils are not of the same quality.
#5 We can’t use essential oils indiscriminately
Just because essential oils have beneficial effects, we can’t use them unthinkingly. Only use them on certain parts of your body. Always avoid putting them on your mouth, eyes, nose, or genital regions.
Now that you know these key facts about essential oils, we hope that you will understand that it’s not essential oils per se, but the manner in which we use them that can be dangerous.
This is true about things like yoga and exercise too. The incorrect posture or overdoing either can cause injury or damage. Similarly with essential oils and aromatherapy.
So go ahead and use this wonderful gift from nature with care and caution.