Ultimate Guide to Herbal Oils

Herbs not only add taste and texture to food, but are also abundant sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and unique medicinal properties. Certain herbs and spices can even help you maintain a healthy body weight, as they promote weight loss.

"Herbs" and "spices" are often used interchangeably; however there are differences between them. Herbs are obtained from the leaves of herbaceous or non-woody plants, and are used in larger amounts than spices. Spices, on the other hand, are obtained from roots, flowers, fruits, seeds or bark, and are usually used in smaller amounts than herbs because of their higher potency and stronger flavor.

Herbs come in various forms, including dried leaves and teas. But this site focuses on herbal oils, which you can make at home or purchase at health food stores. These oils have their own sets of uses and benefits, from food preparation to skin therapy and other practical uses. Herbal oils can be taken or used in different ways, such as for cooking and topical application. They can also be essential or infused.

Essential oils require a large quantity of plant material and need to be diluted before use because they are concentrated. Infused oils, on the other hand, use only a small amount of plant material and are used full-strength. Essential oils can be used in different ways, including aromatherapy, skin massage, adding them to bathwater, using them in a compress or burning them in a diffuser.

Because of their potency, essential oils should be used with caution. While they’re generally safe for topical application and aromatherapy, certain types may be toxic when ingested. With that in mind, do not use concentrated essential oils for oral ingestion or internal application, unless approved by a physician or a trained professional.

Dr. Mercola's Herbal Oil List is a directory that provides you the A-Z’s of herbal oils, and their time-tested health and healing properties. Learn the safe, effective ways of using them — in your cooking, as aromatherapy stress relief after a long day at work, and even for natural disinfection and household care.

Also included are oils that have been popularly touted to be healthy, but actually have potential side effects on your well-being. It is vital for you to know the truth about these oils, so you can weigh the risks and benefits before using them. Just as using too much of any food or health product can carry health risks, remember that herbal oils should be used moderately. They are NOT a substitute for a nutritious, balanced diet.

Pregnant women especially need to consult their physician before consuming or using these oils. Some oils may not be recommended for very young children and people dealing with certain health conditions. Take extra precaution and read through the information thoroughly before using any of the oils in this list.

About Dr. Mercola:

Dr. Joseph Mercola is a passionate advocate of natural medicine, a wellness champion and a visionary who has implemented much-needed changes to our current health care system. As a physician for 25 years, he treated thousands of patients at his wellness center outside of Chicago.

In 1997 he created Mercola.com, now the No. 1 natural health website in the world. A New York Times Best Sellers author, he has also appeared on national news media such as CNN, Fox News, ABC News, Today, CBS's Washington Unplugged, and The Dr. Oz Show.

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