Who hasn’t swooned over a sniff of lavender or the bright notes of citrus? Our sense of smell is highly developed, and closely linked to the parts of our brains that process emotion and memory. Essential oils have incredible powers to not only evoke positive feelings and set mood, but have a host of very real health benefits.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential oils are compounds that are extracted from plants in a way that captures the plant’s scent and flavor, also called its essence — hence the term essential oils. These oil essences are obtained through distillation using steam or water, or by methods such as cold pressing. The unique aromatic makeup of an individual plant is what gives a certain essential oil its characteristic essence.
HOW DO ESSENTIAL OILS WORK?
One of the most common applications is aromatherapy — using the essences to stimulate our sense of smell to improve and change mood. For example, some oils such as lavender and chamomile are very soothing; simply breathing in this smell can have a relaxing effect on the mind and body. Other oils are rejuvenating, such as peppermint, and have an energizing effect.
Using essential oils for aromatherapy can be done in a number of ways, the most common of which are through a diffuser or oil burner that allows us to smell the scent in the air, or by rubbing oil that has been diluted or mixed with a carrier oil directly on the skin.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT QUALITY LEVELS OF ESSENTIAL OILS? HOW DO I TELL THE DIFFERENCE?
Not all essential oils are equal. The method of extraction is crucial, and highly impacts the quality and health benefits of the resulting product. Because it is an unregulated industry, it falls on the consumer to be aware of exactly how certain ones are made and to choose true, 100% essential oils that are of the highest quality. There are a few things to look for:
- Purity. Look for oils that contains only pure aromatic plant compounds, without additives or synthetic oils.
- Quality. True essential oils are those that have been changed the least by the extraction process. Choose a chemical-free essential oil that has been extracted through distillation or mechanical cold pressing.
- Reputation of the maker. Look for those brands that have a reputation for producing high-quality products, and are completely transparent about both their ingredients and process.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIRECT HEALTH BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS?
When applied directly to the skin, some plant essences are absorbed — this is another reason why making sure the essential oils you are using are only of the highest quality and production. When absorbed, oils are rapidly metabolized and do not remain in the body, and for this reason are considered preferable to other synthetic fragrances.
When the aroma from essential oils is inhaled, it stimulates certain areas of the limbic system — that part of the brain that plays a role in emotion, behavior and long-term memory. The limbic system is also linked with unconscious functions like breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.
Studies have been overwhelmingly positive when it comes to the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils, finding them to help with anxiety, depression and stress. Research has also found positive effects against headaches and migraines, particularly from lavender, peppermint, chamomile and sesame oils. Likewise, smelling lavender oil has shown to positively affect the quality of sleep.
Other health benefits that have been backed up by science include fighting inflammation and colitis, balancing hormones, lower cortisol levels, boost immunity and fight infection. The antibiotic/antimicrobial properties of essential oils have also become much more important with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in recent years. Certain oil extracts such as from peppermint and tea tree have been extensively investigated and show promising results in this area.
Some of the most popular essential oils, and their benefits, are listed below:
- Peppermint: Used to boost energy and aid digestion.
- Lavender: Used for stress relief.
- Sandalwood: Used to calm nerves and help with focus.
- Bergamot: Used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema.
- Rose: Used to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
- Chamomile: Used for improving mood and relaxation.
- Ylang-Ylang: Used to treat headaches, nausea and skin conditions.
- Tea Tree: Used to fight infections and boost immunity.
- Jasmine: Used to help with depression and libido.
- Lemon: Used to aid digestion, mood, headaches and more.
There are many different plant essences that have plenty of positive benefits as essential oils — just make sure that you are using a true, high-quality oil that has been processed in the proper way.
All P3 products are made with pure essential oils of the highest quality and sourced responsibly so you can enjoy the aromatic benefits of your favorite P3 flavors without worry!