Volatile or essential oils are scented plant extracts. Their name comes from the fact that they contain the plant’s “essence”, they preserve its taste or odor. They are a rich source of phytochemicals. Used for decades in cosmetics, food, and, lately, in aromatherapy, they have valuable medicinal properties.
The trick to enjoying the incredible health benefits they provide is to know how to choose them. It is very important to use them for the exact purpose they were designed to serve. There are three major ways to use essential oils. Please find them explained below.
Ways to use essential oils
1. Topical application
Some oils allow direct application to the skin. Those that do are usually diluted with a carrier oil (almond or coconut) and have a concentration of 3-5%. Massage oils should have a concentration of only 1%. Some essential oils have antibacterial properties and are easy on the skin, so they do not require diluting.
Hot and cold compresses with essential oils are a great way to calm pain and inflammations. Many people add essential oils to the water when they bathe. This way, they both absorb the oil through the skin and inhale it during the bath.
When using essential oils topically, to improve absorption, it helps to massage the area thoroughly. Also, the absorption rate is higher around the sweat glands, on the armpits, feet soles, palms, head, and genitals.
It is best to apply the oil on a small skin portion in the beginning, and wait for a couple of hours to make sure no irritations, burning, or bumps appear. If they do, you are either allergic to the oil, or the formula you are using is too concentrated.
2. Internal Use
Some essential oils are used internally, to treat various affections. They can be used as a gargle, encapsulated, swallowed directly, or used as suppositories. They can help improve digestion, treat acid reflux, and improve gastrointestinal function. Used inadequately, some oils can have serious side effects and interact with certain medicines, so it is better to consult a medical professional before taking them.