What are essential oils? Are they safe? Do they work? These are several of many questions more and more people are asking these days as the culture of home health care and beauty enhancement shifts from synthetic products and prescription drugs to natural remedies. By the end of this post, you'll be equipped with the basic information you need to lay the groundwork for supplementing your health and beauty regimen with essential oils.

Essential Oils Come From Plants

Perhaps you have a friend or family member who uses essential oils, and you've seen the small glass jars filled with liquid. Each jar of oil is created through various extraction processes, one of the most common being distillation. The chemical compounds and fragrance of the plant being extracted are retained in its oil. To give you an idea of how many plants it takes to make a jar of essential oil, take lavender for example, which is one of the most popular types of oil due to its properties that are known to have a calming effect. To fill a 15 mL bottle of lavender essential oil, it takes approximately three pounds of lavender flowers. Each oil to plant ratio is unique, however. For instance, it takes more than 240,000 rose petals to make the same 15 mL amount of rose essential oil.

You Can Use Essential Oils In a Variety of Ways

Essential oils are versatile, meaning useful for many things. Some people use them as perfume while others use them for culinary enhancement. If you do that, you'll want to make sure you do some research to find a food-grade product. Also, certain oils, such as tea tree, are safe to use topically but poisonous if swallowed. This is why it's imperative that you learn about each specific oil you're considering using to make sure that you know how to use it safely.

Ways to Use Essential Oils

With oils, less is more. You should always use the least amount of drops needed to accomplish what you want to accomplish. While you might assume that if one drop of something is good, then 10 drops is even better, that is not the way it works with essential oils. Many people use a diffuser, which is a battery-operated or electrical device that contains a basin. You add water and a few drops of oil to the basin, which, when heated, sends a mist into the air creating the aroma of the oils you used. If you're up late studying at night and don't want to consume energy drinks or commercial drugs to stay awake and boost your energy and focus, you might try adding a few drops of peppermint or citrus, such as lemon or sweet orange into your diffuser. You can also combine oils to create a unique effect. As part of a beauty enhancement regimen, many people use essential oils to treat skin conditions, such as acne. Oils known for helping to resolve skin problems include tea tree, lemon, thyme and rosemary. Several of these oils have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which help reduce inflammation and fight bacteria.

Medicinal Uses for Essential Oils

Many people nowadays are trying to veer away from prescription drugs and conventional products to treat illnesses or injuries. Essential oils are a natural way to help strengthen your immune system or resolve a particular problem. For instance, if you're having trouble sleeping, you might try applying a few drops of lavender to your wrists before going to bed or adding several drops to a diffuser near your bedside. Many people with seasonal allergies use a combination of lemon, lavender and peppermint, which is basically a natural form of Benadryl, a popular antihistamine product. There are also reports that essential oils have proven to be promising additions to treatment regimens for various forms of cancer, especially oil of frankincense.

Not All Essential Oils Are High In Quality

In fact, some are downright toxic because they are basically commercial products to which a ton of fillers have been added. The following list provides several helpful tips to keep in mind so that you know how to tell a quality oil from one that you shouldn't waste your money on:

  • The oil should come in a small, dark, glass bottle.
  • The Latin name of the plant from which the oil was derived should be on the label.
  • Only deal with companies that have years of experience and good reputations.
  • Avoid anything with the words "added fragrance" on it.

Some companies have much higher prices than others. It is typically the companies that use multi-level marketing to sell their oils that have the highest prices. You might be able to find a similar oil of similar quality from a company that allows purchase from its direct distributorship for a much lower price. This is because such companies don't have as much overhead cost as the MLM companies, which enables them to keep their prices down.

Remember that, just as quality and price varies from company to company, risks and potential danger vary from oil to oil. Not all oils are safe for children; however, some companies have developed a line of inventory specifically proven safe for kids. By researching ahead of time and comparing several products until you find one that suits your needs and preference, you can begin using essential oils as part of your natural beauty and health routine!