Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, aromatherapy and cosmetics. These oils are actually the first type of medicine used by humans and it is estimated that they started being used somewhere around 4500BC by the Ancient Egyptians. During this time, essential oils were used to treat illness and as a major component of celebrations and religious rituals. The three primary oils that were used during that time include myrrh, cedarwood and frankincense, three essential oils that are still very commonly used today.
These oils have been used since their discovery, but they have seen a resurgence in more recent times. Many people started to learn more about alternative and complementary medicine in the twentieth century and part of this education included essential oils. They are very common now and people use them for a wide variety of illnesses and other factors that can impact quality of life, such as stress and lack of energy.
Before using essential oils, it is important to learn a bit about how they work to promote optimal health and wellness. The following are common modes of use for these health-promoting oils:
- These can be applied directly to the skin so that they are absorbed
- These can be inhaled so that they pass through the lungs into the bloodstream to take effect
- They can also be inhaled and then they trigger signals to the brain to induce their effects
- They can be diffused into the air so that they can be absorbed and inhaled via the air
- They can be massaged into the skin
These oils are comprised on minuscule molecules that are extracted from plants and the liquid volatile compounds are what are left. Each of these compounds will possess distinct beneficial properties. These properties are what produce the health-promoting effects, such as inducing relaxation or helping to fight against illness and infection.
How to Apply and Use Essential Oils
- Topical: This involves applying the essential oil directly to the skin with direct application, the raindrop technique, as a cologne or perfume or with auricular therapy.
- Compresses: This involves making a compress and applying it the skin, such as a warm towel soaked in an essential oil mixture. This can be done via a basin or following a massage.
- Inhalations: This is most often done with a diffuser and this is the easiest way to use inhalation for essential oils. There are different types of diffusers, but they all release the oils into the air. Other options include cloth or tissue, vaporizer or humidifier, hot water and a fan or a vent.
- Baths: Bathing or showering with essential oils or adding them to bath and spa products are ways to use this method.