We break down everything you need to know about essential oils and their health benefits (Photo: @ aromatherapyassociatesasia / Instagram).
By Helen Yu
May 21, 2021
Curious about essential oils? Here is a complete guide on how to use it properly to get the maximum therapeutic benefit
Sign up for our newsletter to receive all of our top stories.
You have successfully subscribed
Essential oils have been causing a lot of buzz lately and the wellness trend has shown no signs of slowing down since the coronavirus pandemic broke out. Many people use them as a mood booster during these stressful times.
Loved for its unique healing properties and amazing aroma – especially by those looking to improve their general wellbeing – essential oils can be traced back to ancient times when people used them to make medicines or perfumes for meditation and other spiritual practices used.
Reducing stress, reducing the signs of aging, improving the quality and mood of sleep – the benefits of these natural elixirs are said to be many. But how exactly do essential oils work? How do I find the best and use them safely as part of a healthy lifestyle? We reached out to Suki Ng, Asia International Trainer at Aromatherapy Associates, to learn the basics about essential oils and all the ways we can incorporate them into our daily lives.
See also: Essential oils to help you undress
Contrary to what the name suggests, essential oils are not essential oils – although some people consider them an integral part of their daily skin care and sleep routine. Not to be confused with perfumes. These oils are fragrant compounds extracted from various types of aromatic plants such as flowers, herbs, and woods and are most commonly used in aromatherapy to provide users with a range of therapeutic benefits.
Inhalation: Essential oils have long been valued for their positive effects on the respiratory tract. When inhaled, essential oil particles are absorbed through the mucous membranes that line the respiratory structure and enter the bloodstream for whole-body effects. Oils with antibacterial and antiviral properties are particularly suitable for this type of application, as they can aid the respiratory system and provide symptomatic relief from allergies and infections, congestion of the sinuses and soothing a sore throat.
Current applications: Essential oils can also be effectively applied over the skin in the form of body massages, baths or showers for ultimate relaxation. All essential oils are believed to have non-pathogenic, antibacterial properties, some of which are antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. They also contain antioxidants that can help prevent cell damage from oxidation and the build-up of toxic waste in skin cells, thereby relieving sore, tired muscles, and soothing skin conditions – including dark spots, eczema, inflammation, or other sensitivities.
Because essential oils are highly concentrated, it is not recommended to apply them directly to the skin. It is best to use the oils in diffusers or mix them with a few drops of carrier oil before applying them to the body for massage.
Lavender oil: Extracted from blooming parts or stems of lavender, lavender oil is one of the most common types of oils used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep. It’s also antibacterial, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory, which is great for renewing skin cells, relieving itchy skin, and treating sunburn.
Rose oil: Rose oil is extracted from the petals of the rose and is characterized by its uplifting aroma. It is known for its ability to stimulate blood circulation and improve skin texture. It’s lightweight and easily absorbed, which is also a great moisturizer for dry skin.
Frankincense Oil: Frankincense oil is extracted from the sap of sap from Boswellia trees. In addition to relieving anxiety, it also helps regenerate new skin cells, promotes deep breathing, and prepares the body and mind for a good night’s sleep.
Geranium oil: Geranium oil is obtained by steam distilling the leaves and small pink flowers of Pelargonium graveolens – a plant species that is native to the Cape Provinces in South Africa. It’s known for its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, which are ideal for improving skin problems such as acne breakouts and irritation, as well as promoting lymphatic drainage.
Bergamot oil: Bergamot is a great essential oil for boosting mood and energy levels. Extracted from the peel of small citrus fruits, this oil has an uplifting scent to help relieve anxiety. Properties can stimulate blood circulation and aid digestion.
Chamomile oil: Chamomile oil is made from small, daisy-like flowers that are often touted as a promising sleep elixir with calming and stress-reducing properties so you can sleep better and wake up refreshed. It also helps relieve pain.
Rosemary oil: Rosemary is a rich source of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. Not only does it help improve the overall texture of the skin and treat scalp conditions, but it is also analgesic and contains properties to increase alertness and memory, as well as relieve muscle pain.
Sandalwood oil: Sandalwood oils are a powerful remedy for inflamed skin, stress, mental disorders and much more. Distilled from the wood and roots of the Santalum album or East Indian sandalwood tree, this oil can protect your skin from rash and irritation. This also promotes mental clarity and strengthens self-confidence.
Vetiver oil: Vetiver oil is known for its soothing, grounding aroma. It offers a variety of health benefits, including calming an overactive mind for restful sleep and relieving feelings of depression.
Ylang Ylang: Ylang Ylang has a sensual, floral scent and is a popular oil in many perfume and skin care formulas. Not only does it help regulate the activity of the sebum glands, but it also promises to improve mood, stimulate the skin’s natural glow, and promote hair health.
The only essential oils that should be used are those that guarantee safety and high quality, offered by reputable brands. When choosing oils, you should pay attention to the labels on the bottles and indicate the country of origin, as environmental factors such as climate and altitude would affect the chemical profiles and properties of the essential oils produced. The cultivation and extraction methods behind it should also not be overlooked.
See also: Skincare Secrets with It Girl Bianca Bradner
If you are on medication or are pregnant, it is recommended that you consult a doctor before using essential oils. People with asthma should inhale the aromas a few times to check that their breathing is not impaired before applying the oils. Finally, people with epilepsy are advised not to use stimulant formulas that contain ingredients such as rosemary, camphor, fennel, and eucalyptus.