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Essential oils are (essentially) plant products. Despite the fact that they are called oils, they lack the fatty acids that actual oils contain. The plant is broken down, usually with steam, into its liquid essence. Consider “pure” vanilla extract extracted from the vanilla bean, and you have the idea. In point of fact, a pure extract is an essential oil. In addition to possessing culinary properties, essential oils can be applied topically for a variety of maladies. Used in a diffuser, they make wonderful home fragrances. Many of them have antibacterial properties, making them very effective in cleaning solutions.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, and many of them should never be applied topically in undiluted form. Therefore, it is important to have the necessary information about any given oil in order to use it effectively. They need to be diluted in what are commonly known as “carrier” oils. Sweet almond oil is one example of an excellent carrier oil. The only ones that are generally accepted as safe to apply topically in an undiluted form are lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose geranium. The best oils for use in cleaning solutions are lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary.
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There are numerous mood benefits to various oils. For example, lavender and chamomile oils are wonderful for relaxation. Eucalyptus can ease chest congestion and sinus stuffiness. Orange, grapefruit, lemon, and ylang-ylang are a few examples of oils that can positively affect mood. Rosemary is widely believed to affect concentration.
Granted, there has been a shortage of “scientific” study of essential oils. Pharmaceutical companies have yet to come up with high-profit incentives to use them. Being natural products, they are not eligible for patents. There is hope, however. There is currently a research team at Johns Hopkins Hospital applying scientific study to the widely-reported efficacy of these little wonder elixirs.
We live in a society that has long demanded a “quick fix.” Pharmaceutical companies have become obscenely wealthy by exploiting this tendency. Unfortunately, however, the list of possible “side effects” for any given medication is usually far longer than the list of ailments for which it is prescribed. Why not give natural remedies a try? Unless they are seriously misused, side effects are nil. Do a little research when in doubt.