What Are Essential Oils?
An oil is “essential” because it contains the “essence of” the plant’s chemical properties —which are the constituents of the plant. The term essential used here does not mean crucial as with the terms “essential amino acid” or “essential fatty acid”. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation using steam. A cold pressing process is used for citrus oils. Essential oils can be extracted by other processes such as chemical solvents, but unfortunately this will degrade the quality of an essential oil.
Essential oils have been used for cosmetic, dietary, medical, spiritual & religious purposes for thousands of years. They are offered to modern users today for emotional, physical, & spiritual wellness that can be truly life-changing. People today use essential oils through aromatic diffusion, topical application, &/or dietary consumption.
How Do Essential Oils Work?
Essential oils stimulate the powerful sense of smell which has a significant impact on how we feel. Humans can distinguish 10,000 different smells. These smells are sent to the limbic (the emotional) system. This is the part of the brain that controls our moods, emotions, memory & learning. Doctors have found that patients who lose their sense of smell have a high incidence of psychiatric problems such as anxiety & depression.
Scientific studies show essential oils contain chemical components that can exert specific effects on the mind and body. Each essential oil contains as many as 100 chemical components, also known as constituents, that exert a strong effect on the whole person.
Depending on which component is predominating in an oil, determines what the oil does in the body. Some oils are relaxing, others are soothing, and others relieve pain. Then there are oils such as lemon and lavender, which adapt to what the body needs. These oils are called “adaptogenic”. The mechanism in which these essential oils act is still not well understood. However, what is understood is that they affect our mind and emotions positively and leave no harmful residues, or side effects when properly used under the guidance of a individual trained in their use.
How Much Essential Oils Should I Use?
Arndt Schultz Law governs the use of essential oils. It says substances vary in action depending on whether the concentration is high, medium, or low. High concentrations stop a process or shut it down; medium concentrations inhibit the desired action; while low concentrations, stimulate the sought-after action. It’s another way of saying less is more.
The benefits of ‘Less is More”
Using less means limiting unwanted reactions like; skin reactions in the form of irritations, rashes, blisters, hives, etc., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or headaches. Using less means there is less chance of organic damage to the person’s system. These minimal amounts result in gentle restoration reducing the possibility of side effects, allergic reactions or toxic interference. In other words, the action of small and very large doses of the same substance on living matter are opposite in their effect on the body. Health is ideally expressed as balance in a person’s system. The use of small doses of essential oils, result in a gentle speedy, recuperation period without nasty side effects. So, when in doubt as to how much to use remember less is always more.