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You may even hear some fantastic stories from people who claim different healing effects from them. Heck, it might even sound a lit outrageous. It's possible you could be wondering how some little bottle of smell good liquid could possibly help anyone.
First, it is good to understand what essential oil is. It is the essence of the plant captured into a liquid form that resembles an oil. It takes tons of plant matter to create the small bottles of oil you may see being sold everywhere. Each oil is a combination of different chemicals (I'm not getting into that because I am not a chemist and can barely wrap my mind around the dozens of chemicals) that give it a scent as well as any claimed “healing power”.
Humans have been utilizing plants and plant material in different forms for thousands of years. Essential oil is simply another form of plant material but extra concentrated. It's most common use is aromatherapy which science has done a few research studies on. We know that different aromas can sway our mood in different ways. As a natural way of perceiving the world around us, we use our sense of smell. Any scent that wafts under our nose will be transmitted through neuropathways and trigger different centers of our brain.
The sense of smell has long helped humans survive. If you smell smoke, it could indicate fire and danger and possibly mean you need to seek safety. If you smell bad food you know not to eat it. The brain stores all these different scents to be utilized in future situations when needed. Some scents can trigger memories and some scents have heavy footprints on your memory. Some scents can induce feelings of calm as soon as you smell them. Basically all scents have the ability to lure you in or repel you.
So back to these super oils. From what I can figure through my research is that minimal studies have been performed on essential oils, but there have been some. There have been mostly studies that look at the aromatherapy effect and it has been shown there is different effects on the system. There have also been some studies of topical use of lavender and tea tree oil. It has been shown that with heavy uses males can develop “man boobs”. This has to do with the way the oils have an effect on the hormones in the body.
If we take into account the fact of both science and personal observation there is definitely something that transpires with whenever our olfactory is activated. For instance, I know that if I am angry I can take a big whiff of sage or rosemary and it will instantaneously calm me down. This is an experience I have been able to observe in myself on more than one occasion. Likewise, I can see some immediate benefits from some of the topical uses. For instance, I have uses ginger on my wrists when they have been aching and I notice a decrease in pain within 15 minutes. Likewise, some oils can penetrate and work like a liniment and give the same sensations as icy hot.
From what I can tell most of the evidence is anecdotal. Personally I am okay with that, but I know there are whole other personality types that want everything to be backed 100% by science. Unfortunately, not everything will have that opportunity to be funded for research. This means making personal decisions based on what you know and what is important for you.
I know that when I weigh the options for myself I can see some benefits in utilizing oils for different things. Not to mention I think the smells are amazing and I might be a little obsessed or addicted. I always make sure to not be excessive in my use so that I am not using so much it becomes toxic. Also, these little bottles of oil can be really expensive and I like to make them last as long as possible before investing in another bottle. I figure that a little bit might help and I'm not allergic, so it won't hurt.
As with anything try and use sparingly and wisely. If you are allergic, don't use it. If you have an adverse reaction, don't use it. Overindulgence can become toxic (I'll go into that in another blog). If it works with you, then try it out. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't, either way, you get to determine that by observing how you feel in your body when you are using them. I even recommend keeping a journal while you figure out what you like and don't like, what works and doesn't work. Who knows you just might be pleasantly surprised.
If you want to geek out a little further, here are a couple of places with some good information. You can go down the rabbit hole even further and research more.