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How Effective Are Essential Oils?
Plant-based aromatherapy comes directly from the essence of the plant

Over the last few years, essential oils have become a popular topic among aromatherapy and natural product consumers. There are a handful of different ways you can use essential oils, but it can be difficult to determine which oils and which methods are the most effective.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are as close to the pure essence of a plant as you can get. These natural oils are extracted by distillation, which pulls concentrated oil from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots or another part of the plant. Oils from citrus plants such as lemons and oranges go through a cold pressing process rather than distillation. According to Dr. Brian Lawrence at the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, an essential oil has to be extracted by physical means — such as distillation or cold pressing — and not with chemical treatments.

How can you use them?

You can use essential oils for a variety of purposes depending on which oil you’re using. One of the most popular and effective uses for essential oils is diffusing. By using a diffuser, you can release the oils into the air so that they are absorbed directly into your bloodstream. Marisa Moore at Food and Nutrition Magazine recommends using lavender as a calming agent, while oils like lemon and eucalyptus help boost your immune system and cleanse the air of toxins. Not only does this method have health benefits, but it also freshens up your environment with pleasing and pleasant scents.

You can also apply oils topically. Jimm Harrison at Massage Magazine recommends diluting your oils before applying them to your skin by using carrier oils. Add about 12 drops of your essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil or a lotion or moisturizer. Avoid applying the essential oil directly to your skin, as its high concentration can sometimes cause irritation.

Do they work?

The effectiveness of an essential oil is widely debated. For the most part, the effectiveness depends on which oil you’re using, how you’re consuming it and how pure the oil is. Robin Foroutan, a registered dietitian, stresses the importance of finding top-quality essential oils instead of settling for the cheap, low-quality brands. Forotan explains that if you don’t use high-quality oils, there may also be some issue with metal contaminations that could negate the effects or cause issues.

Consumer Reports points out that many mood-lifting essential oils such as lavender and lemon may appear to help, but their perceived effectiveness is possibly based on the placebo effect. However, a study led by a professor at Ohio State University showed that lemon oil had a noticeable effect on patients. “There were not significant positive effects for lavender, but the mood effects for lemon oil were notable,” said Professor Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D.

At the end of the day, essential oils’ effectiveness depends on the individual. Not everyone will see positive results, or any change in mood or physical health, while others will see significant improvements in their ailments. It’s important to figure out what works best for you and do your research before you decide to try using essential oils.

This article is presented by Gossett Volkswagen.

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