Essential oils have been around for thousands of years and have been used to provide relief for a large variety of ailments and to promote general wellness. In modern times, due to new research and technology as well as an increased emphasis on sustainability and all-natural products, essential oils are more popular than ever. In this article, we’re going to discuss what essential oils are, how they’re used, and our picks of the top 12 best essential oils for health and wellness.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are complex chemical compounds derived from the flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, seeds, stems, and bark of some aromatic plants. They provide the ‘essence’, or natural odor/flavor of a plant, hence the term ‘essential oil’.
Essential oils originate in the chlorophyll-bearing parts of a plant and are then transported to other regions (such as the fruit and seeds) as the plant reaches maturity. It is believed that the natural function of essential oils is to attract pollinators or repel pests.
The two most common methods of extracting oils are distillation and cold-pressing. The eventual chemical makeup of the oil depends on the plant that is extracted, the carrier oil, and the process by which the essential oil is extracted. Apart from a shift to mechanical extraction methods, essential oils have largely remained the same; the main difference now is that more is known about how they function at the antimicrobial level.
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How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are derived from a wide range of plants with a myriad of unique properties, so their potential applications are numerous. Two of the most common ways they are used is by diffusing them into the air, or by applying the oil topically. Using essential oils aromatically allows you to appreciate their pleasant scents, and topical use can provide immediate relief to a targeted area.
Essential oils are a great additive to beverages such as tea, coffee, and wine. They are primarily used to impart a certain flavor and aroma, but they can also be added specifically to reap its unique health benefits.
In addition, since they are all-natural and non-toxic, essential oils are frequently included in other products, such as fragrances, cosmetics, and soaps. Oils such as lavender and chamomile oil are commonly added to lotions for their pleasant scents and soothing properties. There is even increasing evidence that the best essential oils can combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and be used in disinfectants.
12 Best Health-Promoting Essential Oils
There are countless varieties of essential oil that are available today, each with its own set of properties and potential uses. The following 12 essential oils are some of the most popular oils whose health benefits are strongly backed by scientific research.
1. Grapefruit Oil
Grapefruit oil is known for its somewhat tart and citrus-like aroma. In addition to being refreshing and energizing, grapefruit essential oil shows promise as a food preservative due to its antimicrobial properties. This could help food prepared with grapefruit oil last for longer.
2. Bergamot Oil
Bergamot is largely responsible for the distinctive tart and spicy flavor of Earl Grey tea. Using bergamot essential oil can relieve stress and anxiety, as well as potentially reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
3. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary is a member of the mint family whose sweet fragrance makes it one of the best essential oils for use as a culinary ingredient. Using rosemary essential oil can help boost the immune system, relieve muscle pain, and improve memory.
4. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is most likely known for providing the quintessential ‘minty’ fragrance. It has been shown to improve focus and concentration, and using it topically can produce a feeling of cool relief.
5. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is perhaps most popular due to its long history in aromatherapy, where it is typically enjoyed for its relaxing properties and sweet fragrance. In fact, studies have found that the use of lavender essential oil can soothe anxiety and increase production of the neurotransmitter melatonin, which is integral to healthy sleep. In addition to being a common ingredient in teas, lavender oil is also frequently used in cosmetics.
6. Lemon Oil
Lemons are traditionally known for having a sour yet refreshing taste and aroma. Like other citruses, they have strong antibacterial properties, which makes lemon essential oil a common ingredient in cleaning products and air fresheners.
7. Frankincense Oil
Frankincense is one of the primary constituents of various incenses and other kinds of fragrances. Its aroma has been known to produce a calm, almost meditative state, which makes it commonly used in yoga practice.
8. Lemongrass Oil
Lemongrass is commonly used as a medicinal herb and tea ingredient, and has an aroma similar to that of lemons. Lemongrass essential oil has antiseptic and anti-anxiety properties, which may explain why it has been used historically as a means of ‘spiritual cleansing’.
9. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is derived from the leaves of the tree of the same name, and has a strong woody aroma. Eucalyptus essential oil is often used as a natural remedy for cold and flu symptoms, and has even shown to be effective in fighting bacteria that cause tooth decay.
10. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil provides antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory effects. Using tea tree oil topically could help relieve acne, athlete’s foot, and even head lice. However, tea tree oil is not safe for oral consumption.
11. Patchouli Oil
Patchouli essential oil is used extensively in aromatherapy, but it has several other uses as well. Its use has shown to promote skin and hair health, and it can instill a grounding and relaxing feeling.
12. Orange Oil
Orange essential oil has an extremely refreshing quality that one would expect out of a regular orange. In addition, applying it topically can improve the skin’s ability to absorb vitamin C, as well as improve blood flow.
Essential Oils and CBD
Due to the many health benefits and soothing properties of essential oils, they are a commonly added ingredient to many CBD products. We at Tessera Naturals use various essential oils in our CBD product line to enhance the effects of CBD.
For example, rather than using an artificial flavoring agent, our mint flavored CBD tincture uses peppermint essential oil for flavor as well as for its relief properties. Our CBD Pain Cream contains Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Peppermint essential oils for their luxurious cooling effect and medicinal benefits. Lastly, our CBD Salve includes lavender essential oil for its pleasing scent, as well as its healing properties.
If you haven’t experimented with essential oils in the past, our CBD products might just be a perfect introduction to what they can do!