Essential Oils aid in the holistic healing of your mind, body and spirit. But what exactly are they? Put simply, Essential Oils (EOs) are concentrated plant extracts. These oils have historically been used as a natural remedy to enhance overall health and well-being.
Aromatherapy, a popular way to use Essential Oils, has been well-established among different cultures for centuries. The fragrance of EOs have many benefits, including the ability to affect your mood and your surrounding atmosphere.
Aromatherapy involves smelling or inhaling scents to improve your health. Our sense of smell is more delicate and fast acting than any of our other senses, which is why aromas can be so provoking. The chemicals in a scent can trigger physiological responses and affect our mental state. These combined effects enable aromatic oils to work holistically, on our mind, body and spirit, to bring balance, healing, and a profound sense of well-being.
"Aromatherapy conveys the concept of healing with aromatic substances" -Robert Tisserand
There is an art and a bit of science behind the "essential oil madness". My goal is to help you dive into discovering their many benefits so that you can implement them into your own wellness journey. With a little bit of knowledge and a dash of common sense, oils can be used safely by almost everyone.
Essential oils are versatile and also pleasurable to use as they contain the very essence of nature. In recent years, an increased emphasis on holistic healing has led to a rejuvenated interest in the traditional use of essential oils. This spike in interest also coincides with a rise in stress related conditions related to hectic modern day living. Since EOs have the ability to soothe the body and the mind, they are especially helpful with combatting the effects of chronic stress. **Please note that for any serious condition, I always recommend speaking with your primary care provider. Aromatherapy can be used as a complimentary therapy to other treatments as well**
On the Mind
EOs can be used to help achieve a certain state of mind. For example, a stimulating oil can be used to enhance focus while a calming oil can be used to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Studies have shown that the compound linalool, found in lavender and clary sage, can reduce anxiety. In addition, limonene, found in citrus oils, can ease anxiety and relieve depression. Chamomile and bergamot essential oils contain the compounds alpha and beta-pinene which also work as an antidepressant, helping to lift the spirits and increase a sense of well-being. When we feel anxious or depressed, it is not just our minds that are affected. Our bodies also suffer. We tend to hold stress and tension in our muscles which causes pain, inflammation and muscle stiffness. This can throw off our overall balance. The adaptogens contained in EOs help to keep the balance between our body systems running smoothly. This is a process called homeostasis.
On the Body
Essential Oils also contain many medicinal properties that are associated with their respective plant. Oils can be anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and/or antifungal. Many EOs are also antimicrobial in nature, which help to kill harmful microorganisms that cause disease. One of the best-known antiseptic essential oils is Tea Tree, a personal favorite of mine! The chemical components such as thymol found in thyme, menthol in peppermint, and eugenol in clove oil have been shown to have powerful antiseptic properties as well. In a world where many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to conventional antibiotics, essential oils are emerging as a viable alternative.
There are also EO options that contain mild anesthetic properties which help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory). Oils such as thyme, rose, eucalyptus, clove, bergamot and fennel have been shown to work on the body in a similar way to NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen. These oils work by inhibiting the enzymes in the body that cause inflammation (often associated with pain), and swelling. Frankincense is a great example of this, as studies have shown it can significantly suppress the production of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. This prevents the release of leukotrienes, which cause the inflammation.
Some EOs even contain detoxifying properties to help support waste removal. Our excretory system includes our lungs, our liver, our digestive system, our kidneys and even our skin. Many of our body systems work together to remove the "bad stuff". Supporting your body with a good detoxing oil is vital to powerful health!
Last but not least, EOs can help to boost immunity. Considering that we are all smack dab in the middle of a pandemic, everyone should be concerned with boosting their immunity. By enhancing your immune response to disease, your body will recover and fight off illness quicker, sometimes even avoiding symptoms of illness altogether. All essential oils work on the root cause of disease and well as alleviate symptoms in our body. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of the ways EOs work to improve body functioning, I hope this helps you see their potential!
On the Spirit
EO have also been used for centuries to enhance spiritual practices. The right fragrance can be used to help calm breathing, settle and focus the mind and create a sense of intent towards spiritual development. A good time to use oils is during mindful practices such as prayer, meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques.
The use of oils and aromatic infusions are discussed throughout the Bible and YES! Plants and their oils can be used in God-honoring ways. God is the creator of our human bodies and all of nature. Essential Oils do not have any "magical powers", but God did intricately designed Human bodies to react in certain ways to the plants he created. That is Gods Wisdom and Grace on display and He should always get the glory for any benefits we may (or may not) receive. While it has become popular to use EO in many modern-day spiritual practices, I always promote using EOs in a biblical manner that glorifies God. Christians should maintain a heart of gratitude and worship, while relying on Him for all health and healing. God said "...I am the Lord, who heals you." -Exodus 15:26
All in all, healing and enhancing aromatic oils are a joy to learn about and to use! If you enjoyed this post, I'd be very grateful if you'd help it spread by giving it a share or even leaving a comment. In future posts I will dive deeper into specific oils and their uses. In the mean-time, you can check out the oils I have available in my shop and begin your wellness journey now!
Your Health and Wellness matter!
Adrienne Aimes, RN
Linalool Study: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2009.10.002
Limonene Study: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2012.09.005