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What are essential oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated versions of the natural oils in plants. Extracting the oil is achieved by a process called distillation, usually by steam or water or a mechanical method such as cold pressing. Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are mixed with a carrier oil to create the product ready for use. Many parts of the plant are used, including roots, barks, leaves, flowers & stems.The oils capture the plants scent & flavor, thereby creating the “essence” of the oil. This includes the plants “healing” properties and any other characteristics.
So the answer is- In essence, essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell or flavor of the original plant (or it’s “essence”)
How do essential oils work?
Essential oils are commonly used in the practice of Aromatherapy, inhaled through the nose or mouth, or rubbed on the skin. When rubbed onto your skin, some of the plant chemicals are absorbed. Certain methods can improve absorption, like applying with heat or different areas of the body. Inhaling the essential oil aromas can stimulate your brain, especially the part of your brain called the limbic system. This is associated with emotion, behaviour, sense of smell and memory. And can also have an effect on blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
It’s therefore easy to see why some scientists claim essential oils can have a big effect of emotional & physical behaviour, although it’s yet to be actually confirmed.
So the answer is- Essential Oils work by stimulating your sense of smell or having a medicinal effect when absorbed.
What is the practice of Aromatherapy?
According to Wikipedia the practice of Aromatherapy is
“using plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds for improving psychological or physical well being.”
You can see from this that the use of essential oils and Aromatherapy are entwined
Do Essential Oils have Therapeutic Benefits?
Essential Oils have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. If you think about it, when oils are still in their original plants they offer all kinds of benefits & protection to that plant as well as helping with pollination. So, it makes sense that these properties are carried over into the essential oils that are extracted from the original plants. Many essential oils are believed to have healing effects when applied to the human skin and importantly antiseptic effects, which means they reduce inflammation & infection.
When inhaled they are believed to have very good calming effects of the mind, so that is why people use them for relaxation & meditation.
Are essential oils the same as fragrances?
No, Essential Oils are a product of nature, whereas perfumed or fragrance oils are artificially created in a chemist’s laboratory. Fragrances can mimic a natural smell, such as “summer rain”, but they don’t have the therapeutic effects of essential oils. They do have their place however, seen commonly in soap, candles perfumes & cosmetics.
What is a “100% pure” oil?
For “pure” see “single” oil, the same thing really. It means that “pure” or “single” oils such as Lavender or Rosemary are not a blend or a mix of aromatherapy oils. You are purchasing just that oil, with no blend or mixing of other oils. Some companies claim their oils are 100% pure, but then add some additives, so how can they be 100% “pure” oil? As always check with the contents if you can.
What Types of Essential Oil are there?
There are over 90 types of Essential Oils, each with their own characteristics, smell, and potential health benefits.
Here are some popular essential oils and the Health claims associated with them
- Lavender – Used for stress relief, particularly Insomnia
- Peppermint – For energy boost & digestion aid
- Bergamot – Reduces stress & improves skin conditions such as eczema
- Rose – Improves mood & reduces anxiety
- Chamomile – Improves mood & relaxation
- Ylang -Ylang – Improves headaches, nausea & certain skin conditions
- Tea Tree – Fights infections & boost immunity
- Jasmine – Helps depression, childbirth & Libido
- Lemon – Aids digestion, mood, headaches etc
- Sandalwood – Calms nerves & aids focus
What are the Health Benefits of Essential Oils?
Some of the health benefit claims are shown in the list above, but here are the supposed health benefits for Essential Oils
- Stress, anxiety & depression – It is estimated that 40+% of people with these conditions use some form of alternative therapy.
- Headaches & migraines – Dabbing peppermint oil or Chamomile to the forehead is said to reduce headaches & migraines.
- Reduce Inflammation – Studies have shown that some oils, such as Thyme & Tea Tree fight inflammatory conditions.
- Antibiotic & antimicrobial – peppermint & Tea tree oil have been studied and found to help fight bacterial infections in humans
- Sleep & Insomnia – Lavender inhalation has been consistently shown to improve sleep quality & even heart disease in some patients
What Essential Oils are good for sleep?
There are a few Essential Oils that are good for sleep according to experts in the field. The trick is finding which essential oil your body likes best! Everyone has different hormonal tendancies. An oil that might send you to sleep, might be useless for me. So I advise a bit of trial and error. Probably try Lavender first, then try others if the Lavender doesn’t work. Here are the main essential oil contenders for a good nights sleep-
- Lavender – There are many promising studies promoting the benefits of improves sleep after inhaling Lavender
- Ylang Ylang – Quite floral in it’s scent (to me at least) and is supposed to give many people a good nights sleep
- Sandalwood – A little pricier but a little goes a long way sometimes. A rich woodsy oil said to be ideal for insomnia in some people
- Cedarwood – Another woody smell as the name suggests. Said to work well with a diffuser.
- Bergamot – A Citrus fruit with the oil cold pressed from the peel & rind
- Chamomile – Known for it’s soothing & relaxing qualities. A light floral scent
- Vetiver – Rich and earthy smelling. Known for it’s relaxing qualities
- Marjoram – Said to be excellent for a peaceful sleep plus muscles & joints
What is an essential oil blend?
This is when you combine several different Essential Oils into one amazing recipe. Your probably going to need a diffuser, which is the best way to get these blends into your atmosphere. We will discuss diffusers later. A typical oil blend recipe maybe-
Liquid Sleep Recipe-
- 15 drops of lavender
- 10 drops vetiver
- 5 drops frankincense
- 5 drops ylang ylang
- 5 drops wild orange
There are many essential oil blend recipes out there on the internet. It can be difficult to know which oils combine and which don’t so it may be an idea to check out different essential oil blend recipe sites like redefinedmom.com here
What are the Essential Oils Safety and Side Effects?
Most Essential Oils are considered safe, but sometimes, some people suffer adverse reactions to all sorts of natural or chemical products. I recently suffered an allergic reaction to a chemical that other people had been using for years and years. I took one sniff of a cleaning fluid and spent the next 5 days in agony as a rash covered my entire upper torso. So I know it happens.
Hopefully, you will already be aware that you suffer an allergic reaction from any oils recommended, but obviously we recommend due diligence and some research if you can as to what type of oils cause what type of reaction in certain people. We already know that phenols can cause skin irritation, but that is usually found in Cinnamon, which is not one we recommend at the moment.
Why Does lavender help with sleep?
Research shows that lavender eases anxiety and insomnia. In one study a group of volunteers were made to sleep in rooms where lavender oil was diffused into the air throughout the night. Another group in rooms with no lavender oil. The ones in the lavender oil diffused rooms slept 20% better than the other group.
Researchers found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep, the very deep slumber, where we organize memory amongst other things.
How do i use lavender for improved sleep?
You can do a few things once you have the Lavender oil. Sprinkle some on a tissue and place on your pillow, or use an aromatherapy diffuser
What types of Diffuser are there?
There are 4 main types of Essential Oil diffusers on the market today:
- Nebulizing Diffuser –
Uses pressurized air & oil. A stream of air blows across a small tube, creating a vacuum that pulls the oil onto the surface of the tube and out in a fine mist. A timer can be set to allow a burst of essence at certain times, so you can fill it and forget it. This is probably the first choice for those who use essntial oils for their mental health and well being.
- Ultrasonic or humidifying Diffusers –
Very similar but uses electronic frequencies to create ultrasonic vibrations for distribution of the fine mist. They require regular cleaning and you can’t use cirtus oils as they erode the ultrasonic parts
- Evaporative Diffusers –
As the oil evaporates, it’s released into the air as it turns from liquid to gas. Needs a small fan to blow out the air. Typically the least expensive and used by those who just want a burst of freshness now and then.
- Heat Diffusers –
Works in similar way to evaporate diffusers, but uses heat instead. Relatively inexpensive and quite, but can change the composition of the oil when heated.
What is the Best Essential Oil Diffuser for Sleep?
I have tried a few Oil Diffusers with a Lavender essential oil and the one I like best and my current one is the InnoGear 500ml
It’s very attractive, in a sort of futuristic sort of way, one of the reasons I chose it.Plus it’s quite compact and I love the light.
Materials– The shell is plastic wood grain color and smooth to the feel. Very durable & doesn’t shatter.
Style– Unique compact egg shaped design, with a natural looking faux wood grain finish that goes well with any furniture, but especially wood.
Water capacity– the unit holds 500ml and covers upto 459 sq ft and can run upto 15 hours. Auto shut off when water runs out.
Noise– Extremely quiet thanks to ultrasonic technology, so no disruption to your sleep
Settings and Lights– 4 time set modes, 1,3,6 & continuous hours. Light features 7 colors and 3 settings, cycle through light, fixed light and shut off
My favourite feature– All of it really, looks great, very quiet, lights great, very very nice indeed.
- Extra capacity of 500ml water
- Runs for upto 15 hours
- 4 timer settings, 1,3,6 & continuous
- Auto shut off when water runs out
- Whisper quiet, so no disrupted sleep
- Can be used with lavender oil for improved sleep
- 7 color changing LED light
- Easy to plug & unplug
- Looks fantastic, especially at night with the light on
- Over 700+ excellent customer reviews on Amazon
- Great price at under $30 at time of review
- The top does not lock or screw in place so once knocked over, nothing to prevent spillage
Check out the reviews & current Amazon price here
Best Essential Oil Mix For Sleep
This pack of Essential Oils is excellent for the Aromatherapist amongst us. Not only do we have sleep inducing oils like Lavender, but we can use blends to increase our chances of sleep improvement. There are many sleep recipes on the internet, so you maybe mix some Lavender with some Frankincense and sleep away!
Of course, not only sleep, but other areas of aromatherapy such as skin improvement & migraine reducing can be tackled using these oils.
8 of the best oils for under $15
- Set of 8 so promotes multiple aromatherpic healing
- Ideal for use in Diffusers, Humidifiers or Vaporizers
- All oils derived from latest cold pressing techniques
- 100% natural standards, paraben free & cruelty free
- Over 6,600+ Amazing customer reviews over on Amazon
- Great Value at under $15 at time of review
- Some of my favourites like Bergamot not included in this pack
Check out the amazing reviews & current Amazon price here