Essential oils have been receiving a lot of media attention lately, with many people pondering their potential for relieving all kinds of different symptoms. 

A big question on the lips of many is “do essential oils work?”. There’s evidence to show that these plant-based oils can have a positive effect on your health if you use them the right way. 

If you want to try out essential oils, you should understand a little bit more about what they could potentially assist in treating and which manner to use them appropriately. 

What Essential Oils Are and What They Are Not

Essential oils are extracted from plants and they keep the natural flavor, smell or “essence” obtained from their source. High-quality essential oil brands are produced by pressing or steaming different parts of the plant such as the leaves, flowers, fruit or bark.

The method used to extract the essential oil is very important. During processing, several pounds of the plant are processed to capture the fragrant compounds and the essential oil. If the essential oils are extracted through a chemical process they are not regarded as true oils.

How Essential Oils Work

Essential oils are frequently used in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is an alternative medical treatment that uses essential oils to treat various conditions. In this age-long practice, the patient inhales the scent molecules in the oils and these molecules travel from the nose to the brain and have a positive impact on the emotional center of the brain called the amygdala. 

The aroma from the oils can also improve your long-term memory and sense of smell. The limbic system (part of the brain responsible for behavior and emotions) has an effect on the control of other functions in the body such as blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. That is why some users of essential oils claim that they have a physical effect on their bodies.

Essential oils aren’t supposed to be ingested like a drink or liquid medicine. However, you can apply it directly to the skin. When applied to the skin, some of the chemicals get absorbed. Some application methods such as applying heat to the part of the body may boost absorption of the oil into the skin.

A skincare product manufacturer may add lavender (a popular essence oil) to liquid bath wash for a soothing soak. Similarly, a massage therapist can put some drops of wintergreen to help tight muscles relax.

Types of Essential Oils

While there are scores of essential oils with a unique aroma and touted health benefits the following are among the most widely used:

* Lemon: aids digestion, reduces headaches and improves mood

* Jasmine: reduces depression and helps to increase libido

* Tea Tree: improves immunity and helps to ward off infections

* Rose: reduces anxiety and improves mood

* Sandalwood: helps the mind to focus and calms nerves

* Peppermint: improves digestion and boosts energy levels

* Lavender: relieves stress and aids relaxation

Can Essential Oils Treat Health Conditions?

Essential oils are widely used to treat certain conditions, especially in aromatherapy and alternative medicine. Here are some of the common conditions that essential oils can treat.

Headaches and Migraine

Studies have shown that dabbing a mixture of ethanol and peppermint oil on temples and foreheads can relieve pain and headache. Others have used a mixture of lavender oil and peppermint on the skin to reduce headaches. 

The traditional Persian headache therapy which involves applying a mix of sesame oil and chamomile to the temples has also received some scientific reviews.

Improving Quality of Sleep

A study showed that in newly welcomed mothers can benefit from smelling lavender oil as it improves quality sleep. Virtually all the studies reviewed by a group of researchers showed that inhaling the smell of lavender oil had a positive boost on sleep habits. 

Safe Ways to Use Essential Oils

It is important to use essential oils in a safe and healthy way to avoid any adverse effects. Safe ways to use these plant oils include:

* Body oil: Mix the essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba or olive oil when you want to apply it to your skin to prevent irritation.

* Aroma stick: This is an essential oil inhaler with an absorbent wick. The wick soaks up the oil and gets it ready for you to inhale the scent when you need it.

* Aromatherapy accessories: You can use keychains, bracelets or necklaces with absorbent materials that you may put some essential oils on to sniff conveniently during the day.

Essential oils can improve your mood and make you’ll feel great after taking a sniff of their fragrance. They can also relieve the symptoms of some health conditions. However, if you want to integrate them fully into your lifestyle, it is important to talk to your doctor or alternative health expert.