How Do Essential Oils Work?

a woman practicing mindfulness, sitting on her bed with a cup of tea.

Essential oils are concentrated botanical extracts that have a multitude of wellness benefits. Essential oils are usually obtained from plants through steam distillation or cold pressing. They can come from flowers, resins, seeds, wood, roots, leaves, fruit peels, and more. 

In the natural world, plants use their essences for self-preservation and self-defense. Plants use their essences to ward off invaders, keep pests away, heal themselves, protect against bacteria and disease, attract pollinators, and more. With essential oils, the powers of the natural world are available for us to use too! 

Each essential oil has a wide variety of uses, which is helpful if you’re trying to cut down on the number of products you buy. 

Essential oils are all-natural, bringing you toxin-free wellness. They can be used in aromatherapy – which involves the diffusing of essential oils and breathing in the benefits. They can be used topically on your skin. Or they can be used on surfaces in your surroundings. 

Essential oils work by harnessing the natural chemical constituents and compounds found in plants and making them available in a concentrated form. They can positively impact your mental and physical health, as well as provide household solutions for cleaning, repelling insects, deodorizing, and more.  

How Do Essential Oils Work in Aromatherapy? 

When essential oils are inhaled, the olfactory receptors in the nose absorb the botanical compounds. Your olfactory system then sends signals to your brain. These communications from the olfactory system stimulate the amygdala and the limbic system, which are the parts of your nervous system that regulate emotions and memory. Through this process, the aroma of essential oils directly affects your mood and emotions. That’s why it’s called aromatherapy! 

How Do Essential Oils Work in Topical Application?

When applied topically, the therapeutic compounds in essential oils can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. One important note about topically applying essential oils is that they should be diluted with a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation or discomfort. Popular carrier oils include jojoba oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and olive oil. 

Can You Ingest Essential Oils? 

No, essential oils shouldn’t be ingested unless you are under the direct supervision of a medical doctor who is also trained in aromatherapy.

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