What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the essence of the plant. It is extracted from various plants. They are made by pressing or steaming different parts of plants like roots, stem, leaves, fruits, etc. It contains a high amount of active ingredients of that plant with a stronger smell.


Essential oils are often used to ease stress, boost mood, relieve pain from headaches and migraines, get a better night's sleep, quell nausea, and even repel insects. Most essential oils have antiseptic properties as well.

The beneficial compounds in oils often are delivered in three ways—inhalation, topical application to the skin, and oral ingestion.


Essential oils typically are extracted using steam distillation, a process that involves applying steam to a plant until only oil remains. Essential oils contain volatile compounds, which make up the strong characteristic scent of a plant and give them their therapeutic effects.

In aromatherapy, these volatile compounds are inhaled using either a drop of oil on a piece of cloth, jewelry, or other item, or diffused into the air with an aromatherapy diffuser. Inhalation is the safest method for using essential oils.


Essential oils sometimes are applied directly to the skin to treat pain in a specific body part—to relieve backache, for example, or to ease sore muscles, or to relieve sinus pain—and some may be used topically for their antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, such as for acne or fungal infections.

However, many essential oils can be irritating and so should not be applied full-strength to the skin but rather diluted in a carrier oil

Essential oils also sometimes are added to soap, lotion, shampoo, bath salts, and other products, and used during massage and spa treatments.

Health Benefits

Essential oils can be used to treat many physical and emotional health issues. At the molecular level, these oils contain beneficial compounds like antioxidants, terpenes, and esters that may help to boost wellness.

Common Oils

There are dozens of essential oils, each with a unique scent and potential healing properties.

  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Tea Tree
  • Vanilla
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cucumber
  • Sage
  • Star Anise

Possible Side Effects

When used as directed, essential oils have few side effects or risks, although the way a given oil is used has a great deal of bearing on its safety.

Topical application of essential oils is generally safe, however, certain oils can cause a reaction that may include contact dermatitis, burns, and skin irritation. A patch test should always be done when using a new essential oil to see if you're sensitive to it.

Ingesting essential oils is not always safe and depends on the oil. Many essential oils are FDA-approved as ingredients in food and fragrances and are labeled generally regarded as safe (GRAS). However, some oils can be toxic and only ingested under medical supervision. Use caution when ingesting essential oils and do not swallow large amounts.

Do not use essential oils near your eyes, genitals, or mucous membranes. If you get an oil in your eyes or mucous membrane, you can dilute it with a carrier oil.

Like any health supplements, essential oils may interact with prescription medications when taken internally. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before combining any essential oil with medications.

Do not use essential oils in a humidifier, CPAP machine, or any other breathing device.





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