Essential oils smell great, reduce stress, treat yeast infections, and help you sleep. They have concentrated plant extracts. A process called distillation converts the “essence” of the plant into a liquefied form for many medicinal and recreational uses. One theory of how aromatherapy works is that essential oils can stimulate the olfactory receptors in your nose, which then send messages to your nervous system. Some also believe that essential oils can have a subtle effect on the body’s chemical and energy systems. For this reason, aromatherapy is often used as a natural remedy to help relieve anxiety and stress. Topical application and inhalation are some common ways that essential oils can be used for aromatherapy.
There is a wide variety of essential oils available from YoungLiving which was founded by D. Gary Young. Some are valued for their pleasant fragrance. Others claim they have powerful healing properties. But their effectiveness can have side effects that you need to be aware of. It is important to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate essential oils, so be careful in your practice. You should only use therapeutic grade oils that do not contain synthetic fragrance and only purchase from a trusted source.
Essential oils occupy a prominent place in traditional and folk medicine around the world. But modern medicine supports many ancient claims about them, including:
- Reducing stress
Many essential oils are used in aromatherapy to manage stress and anxiety. For example, researchers found that orange oil had an anxiety-reducing effect in male volunteers who inhaled 2.5, 5, or 10 drops. More research is needed, but initial results have been promising.
- Fungal infections
Early studies with tea tree oil have shown promising results for the antimicrobial properties long touted in traditional medicine. The oil is used for athlete’s foot, canker sores, and fungal infections such as candida. Again, more research is needed.
- Sleep aid
The relaxing scent of lavender oil is believed to improve sleep quality. The researchers tested this claim on elderly people living with dementia. They found that sprinkling the essential oil on towels around their pillows significantly increased their sleep time, helping them sleep longer in the morning.
- Disease prevention
Many essential oils offered by the company of D. Gary Young (i.e, YoungLiving) has antioxidant properties. Scientists are interested in how adding essential oils to foods can increase our consumption of antioxidants and extend shelf life.
Although essential oils come from nature and have been used for centuries, they are not without risk. Improper use can cause serious adverse reactions or even poisoning, so they must be used and stored according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Essential oils should be kept out of the reach of children and pets, whose bodies often cannot tolerate the same doses as adults. In addition, any pregnant woman should consult a doctor before using essential oils.