Essential oils are substances released by plants. Being complete of vegetable origin, they provide health benefits through aromatherapy, calm, stimulate, preserve food, heal, disinfect, and act as insecticide, fungicide, bactericide, repellent.
What is aromatherapy and what are its benefits?
Essential oils are obtained through extraction techniques such as cold pressing and different types of distillation. The terpenes, which are volatile organic compounds present in essential oils, can be extracted from leaves, roots, seeds, fruits, flowers, and plant trunks.
Terpenes represent the most important class of chemical substances secreted by plants and are derived from a molecule (isoprene) formed by various carbon bonds. The term terpene came from turpentine, which is a resin coming from pine trunks, and the word terpene, of Greek origin, means pleasant smell. However, terpenes are not only present in pines and conifers. They are found in citrus fruits (such as orange), eucalyptus, roses, among others.
Know the techniques of vegetable oil extraction.
Terpenes can react with other substances or with themselves and originate other chemical compounds such as menthol, camphor, vitamin A, squalene, limonene, and farnesol. Besides these substances, terpenes are also highly reactive with other compounds present in the atmosphere, such as ozone, nitrate, and hydroxides.
Terpenes represent the most important class of chemical substances secreted by vegetables and are derivatives of a molecule (isoprene) formed by several carbon connections. The term terpene appeared from turpentine, which is a resin coming from pine trunks, and the word terpene, of Greek origin, means pleasant smell. However, terpenes are not only present in pines and conifers, they are found in citrus fruits, eucalyptus, roses, among others.
As most of the essential oils have terpenes in their compositions, the benefits they can offer us are many:
Certain essential oils, such as those of eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon, thyme, and melaleuca can act as antiseptic, against inflammatory and antibacterial, inducing damages to the cellular structures of bacteria and fungi such as Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. Taking advantage of the capacity that the terpenes present in the essential oils have, several types of equipment were developed to purify and sanitize the air, eliminating pollutants that can cause damages to the health.
Most common essential oils and their properties
Essential Oil Properties
Rosemary Analgesic, Antiseptic, Anti-inflammatory, Stimulant and Tonic
Analgesic Chamomile, Antiseptic, Anti-inflammatory, Cicatrizant and Tonic
Eucalyptus Analgesic and Antiseptic
Analgesic Mint, Antiseptic, Anti-inflammatory and Stimulant
Antiseptic, Stimulant, and Tonic Lavender
Antiseptic and Anti-inflammatory Lemon
Melaleuca Analgesic, Antiseptic, Anti-inflammatory, Cicatrizant and Tonic
Possible applications of essential oils
Thanks to the different compositions of essential oils, some benefits can be achieved by various applications, among them:
Flavoring of the environment;
As most essential oils have terpenes in their compositions, the benefits they can offer us are many: Certain essential oils, such as those of eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon, thyme, and melaleuca can act as antiseptic, against inflammatory and antibacterial, inducing damage to the cellular structures of bacteria and fungi such as Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. Taking advantage of the capacity that the terpenes present in the essential oils have, several types of equipment were developed to purify and sanitize the air, eliminating pollutants that can cause damages to the health.
Uses of terpene
According to the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), terpenes have a great potential to interfere in the behavioral, physiological, and biochemical functions of insects. This is due to the toxic, repellent, and attractive properties that terpenes have on insects. Therefore, they are used in insecticides, both for domestic and agricultural use, an insect repellent, disinfectants, fungicides, solvents such as turpentine, industrial degreasers, among other products, such as some air purifiers and sanitizers that use the bactericidal properties of terpenes to reduce the number of pollutants, bacteria and fungi that can cause damage to our health.
You can use citronella essential oil in a diffuser, for example, to keep legs away. Each essential oil has one or more functions, seek expert help to know how you can use them.
Essential oils are well known for their pleasant aromas and therapeutic benefits. Check them out:
How to use and some necessary care
The essential oils are very concentrated, thus having a very strong aroma when pure. For the aromatization of environments, you can add one drop in the environment, to each one meter, which will be enough. Another possibility is to dilute about 10 ml of pure essential oil in 1 liter of water, moisten a cloth with this solution and pass in the desired environment; or apply a few drops in a diffuser. Avoid the exaggeration of the essential oil for aromatization, because, for possessing in high concentration, they can cause nausea and discomfort when there is excessive exposure.
When a region of the body suffers an impact or injury, pain, swelling, and redness soon appear. Many people use the compress to relieve and accelerate recovery from this impact or injury, but did you know that some types of essential oils can help even more in this recovery? Some oils have analgesic and stimulating properties of peripheral circulation, so they can be used for the treatment of muscle contusion. From two to three drops of essential oil in the compress is enough to increase the effectiveness and contribute to muscle relaxation.
The essential oils are widely used in massages, thanks to their analgesic, relaxing, and stimulating properties of peripheral circulation. It is good to remember that the essential oil, because it is very concentrated, must be diluted in some carrier oil, like vegetable oil, to avoid possible skin irritations and adverse reactions. About 35 drops for every 100 ml of vegetable oil is a good proportion for application in massages.
Some essential oils can improve the respiratory system (in cold situations, for example), besides providing a possible psychological relaxation. Adding a few drops of the oil (about four) to a container of hot water can help the breathing of the person who is going to inhale.
Several types of essential oils carry compounds that have antiseptic action. Therefore, they can be used in cleaning, killing several miniature organisms. Some pure drops can be applied on a cloth that is passed in the desired area, however, the drops must be well spread for the smell not to get too strong.
The essential oils can also be used in hair treatment, being mixed a few drops (ten) in shampoo (100 ml) or vegetable oil (100 ml), and massaging the mixture on the scalp. They can be used for dry hair treatment (cedar and sage essential oils), oily hair (cedar and lemon oils), dandruff treatment (rosemary and melaleuca), and hair loss (rosemary and cedar).
In the bath, essential oils are efficient to calm the mind and improve the respiratory system through inhalation. In the shower, three drops can be applied to just one corner of the box, because if more than this is added, the moisture generated in the bath can concentrate a lot and cause discomfort and nausea. In the bathtub, about ten drops can be added, because they will be well diluted by a large amount of water in the bathtub.
As in massage, some types of essential oil should be diluted in vegetable oil to avoid irritation and high concentration on the skin. Depending on the type of application desired, do not exceed 35 drops for every 100 ml of vegetable oil.
Some essential oils can be ingested and provide health benefits, but safety depends very much on each type of essential oil, application, and the reaction of the person’s body. Never ingest essential oil without being sure about its safety and indicated quantity, because they are extremely concentrated.
Where to find and what care to take at the time of purchase
It is very important to verify that the product is 100% natural and pure, free of components that can be harmful to health. Normally, products that contain essential oil can also have harmful substances, such as parabens, to improve some physical aspects of the product and even its lifetime.
Another important characteristic that should be observed is that essential oils are normally photosensitive, that is, they degrade when exposed to light, so normally they should be stored in a dark container to prevent their contact with external light. Understand more about in “What are essential oils?
Some essential oils have no recommended use for certain cases. Rosemary, for example, should be avoided for pregnant women. So always seek a medical recommendation before using essential oils. It is important to be sure that there is no possibility of adverse effects such as allergy and even more serious effects.
Some essential oils are not recommended for certain cases. Rosemary, for example, should be avoided for pregnant women. So always seek a medical recommendation for the use of essential oils. It is important to be sure that there is no possibility of adverse effects such as allergy and even more serious effects.