What are Essential Oils?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “essential oil”, it might sound like an oil which is absolutely necessary. Essential minerals and essential amino acids are responsible for this misunderstanding. An essential mineral or amino acid is called essential because your body does not produce it naturally and so you must consume some amount of it for optimal health. Essential oils are thus called because they are oils which represent the “essence” of the plant that they come from and are typically highly concentrated extracts. So, you’d expect mint essential oil to be very minty and cinnamon essential oil to be very…well, “cinnamony.”
Essential Oils Benefits
Many essential oils are regularly used for their concentrated aromatic properties and can be found in candles and bath salts for “aroma therapy.” Oils like cinnamon, eucalyptus and mint (menthol) are good examples. Essential oils extracted from flowers are often used in perfumes and candles
Some of these oils are also used for medicinal treatments, as in the case of menthol to soothe a sore throat or suppress a cough.
One very important essential oil, known as capsaicin, is extracted from hot peppers and has proven to effectively increase the body’s basal metabolic rate. This helps to burn more calories on a regular basis and may result in significant weight loss in some cases.
Essential Oils Risks
Because of the highly-concentrated nature of essential oils, some can prove to be irritants and shouldn’t be applied directly to the skin. Essential oils from citrus plants can also cause the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. In the right dose and dilution, essential oils can be very useful and safe, but caution should be used if you are ever handling pure essential oils.
With a variety of sources and applications, essential oils are extremely useful and valuable. Because of their concentrated nature, they are often more potent and more expensive than basic herbal extracts, but they are highly potent.