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Essential Oils - Do They Work?

and Making and Using Your Own At Home

By Dr. Grove Higgins


Essential oils are very popular. But we're not talking about mystical potions so many are intrigued by. Instead, essential oils are natural substances found in plants that can have very practical and effective uses. We're focusing on the tangible benefits these oils can bring into your life, especially in terms of aromatherapy, disinfection, and overall health.

Rube Goldberg machine, illustrating the multifaceted uses of essential oils. This intricate and whimsical representation captures the essence of how essential oils interact and benefit various aspects of our lives.
Multifaceted uses of essential oils.

What Are Essential Oils?


Essential oils are concentrated liquids extracted from plants. They capture the plant's scent, or "essence," and are often used for their aromatic and therapeutic properties. Popular oils include lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. But let's get to the nitty-gritty—how can these oils practically benefit you?


Aromatherapy: More Than Just a Pleasant Scent


Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to improve psychological and physical well-being. The psychological effects of aroma are both fascinating and impactful. Certain scents, like lavender and chamomile, can be calming, helping reduce stress and anxiety levels (Lewith, G., et al., 2005). On the flip side, invigorating aromas like citrus and peppermint can elevate mood, improve focus, and boost mental clarity, making them excellent choices for times when you need a little extra motivation or concentration (Sayorwan, W., et al., 2012).

  • Stress Relief: Lavender oil is a classic go-to for calming nerves. A couple of drops in a diffuser can turn your home into a stress-free sanctuary.

  • Improved Sleep: Oils like chamomile and bergamot can be added to your bedtime routine for a better night's sleep.



Disinfection: Not Just for Surfaces


Many essential oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties. For instance:

  • Disinfecting Surfaces: Thymol, found in thyme oil, is an effective agent for disinfecting surfaces in your home. It's often a key ingredient in eco-friendly cleaning products that are certified for healthcare settings. Proven to kill Covid-19.

  • Hand Sanitizer: Tea tree oil can also be a potent addition to your hand sanitizer, giving it a natural boost in germ-fighting power.

Health Benefits: Beyond Aromas


Essential oils aren't just for making your home smell nice; they may also offer a host of health benefits. For instance, peppermint oil is frequently used for its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, providing relief from digestive issues (Khanna, R., et al., 2014). Oils like eucalyptus and tea tree have been shown to assist in respiratory health, making them useful during cold and allergy seasons (Ben-Arye, E., et al., 2011). Essential oils can complement traditional medicine, but always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

  • Respiratory Health: Oils like peppermint and eucalyptus can help clear up sinuses and offer relief from colds and allergies.

  • Digestive Issues: Ginger and peppermint oils can be used to relieve nausea and indigestion.

Samaritan Oil: The Multi-Use Blend You Should Know About


Also known as Thieves Oil, Samaritan Oil is a blend of several essential oils, including clove, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon, and cinnamon. It was traditionally believed to protect against the plague. While we're not facing the plague anymore (thankfully!), this oil blend still has various uses:

  • Aromatherapy: Provides a spicy and uplifting aroma, perfect for increasing focus and mental clarity.

  • Disinfection: A powerful disinfectant that can be used to clean surfaces around the house.

  • Health Benefits: May help improve respiratory health and boost the immune system.

To make your own batch, use this convenient calculator. Just type in the size of the container you wish to use, and it will give you the mounts of each ingredient to mix. Place this on your hands after using the bathroom, behind your ears when you travel, and simply everywhere to spread a wonderful scent and disinfect!



References

  • Lewith, G., Godfrey, A., & Prescott, P. (2005). A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(4), 631-637.

  • Sayorwan, W., Siripornpanich, V., Piriyapunyaporn, T., Hongratanaworakit, T., Kotchabhakdi, N., & Ruangrungsi, N. (2012). The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 95(4), 598-606.

  • Khanna, R., MacDonald, J.K., & Levesque, B.G. (2014). Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 48(6), 505-512.

  • Ben-Arye, E., Dudai, N., Eini, A., Torem, M., Schiff, E., & Rakover, Y. (2011). Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in primary care: a randomized study using aromatic herbs. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011, 690346.


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