By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege
Essential oils carry the physical properties of flowers and plants in a highly concentrated form. They are, in short, the essence of the plant and can provide therapeutic benefits in very small amounts. The particles in essential oils, which come from various parts of the plant such as the flowers, twigs, leaves or bark, can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin and their use can be traced back for thousands of years. Essential oils were even used in ancient Egyptian times, and were made by soaking plants in oil and then filtering the oil through a linen bag.
Most essential oils have antibacterial qualities and have varying physical and emotional effects depending on the oil, such as stimulation, relaxation, pain relief and healing. The most common ways to use essential oils include:
- Massaging them (blended with a carrier oil) into the skin
- Adding them to bathwater
- Using them in a compress
- Burning them in a diffuser
In The Maker's Diet, Dr. Jordan Rubin recommends 14 essential oils that have unique healing properties. He suggests putting five to 10 drops (total) of these "top healing oils" into a warm bath for a real "healing treat." Below you will find five beneficial essential oils along with their uses. I encourage you to check out The Maker's Diet to learn more about some of the more exotic, but highly effective, essential oils available.
I'd also like to point out that essential oils are not the same thing as fragrance oils. Essential oils come from plants while fragrance oils are artificially created and often contain synthetic chemicals. While they may smell good and are typically less expensive, they will not give you the therapeutic benefits of organic essential oils--and you don't want to be inhaling any synthetic chemicals! So, please be sure that the essential oil you use is of the highest quality and 100 percent pure.
Caution: Essential oils can produce very strong and significant changes in tiny amounts. They must be used with caution, especially during pregnancy. It is important to consult someone knowledgeable in aromatherapy before experimenting with these oils.
* Although sandalwood is a beneficial oil, the trees must be felled to collect the product and there has been much over-harvesting. Indian sandalwood is controlled by the Indian government, which allows a limited amount of the essential oil to be traded on the world market. However, due to its high value sandalwood may be produced illegally without replanting programs in place. There is concern that this oil should be on the endangered list and many essential oil producers are contemplating not selling it, so you may want to seek an alternative oil, such as Western Australian sandalwood.