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Essential oil is a highly concentrated plant component distilled or cold-pressed from leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds and combined with a carrier oil. A small vial can represent an enormous amount of raw material. For example, it takes about 250 pounds of roses to distill one ounce of rose essential oil.
Historically, herbs and plants have been the source of medical breakthroughs. In 15th to 18th century Europe, Spanish traders brought potent herbal remedies from South America that finally gave doctors a way to treat smallpox, malaria, and syphilis.
Ancient Egyptians left behind a list of over 850 herbal medicines on the Ebers Papyrus, many of which we continue to use today.
Some essential oils are applied topically, but many are known for their scents and used by aromatherapy. In aromatherapy, a diffuser evaporates the oil molecules into the air to be inhaled.
Many plant essential oils, like lavender or sage, deliver a potent fragrance. Smells can change our moods, such as the aroma of freshly baked cookies or a breeze off the sea.
Unlike sights and sounds, smells take a direct route to the limbic system. They connect to the regions of the brain related to emotion and memory.
Smells can subtly influence our behavior. Brands go to great lengths to customize scents in stores and restaurants. For example, Starbucks masks the smell of food inside their cafes because customers prefer the aroma of brewing coffee.
Despite their ancient roots and modern popularity, there are fewer published scientific studies on essential oils than CBD. Here are a few of the results researchers have found.
Lavender Essential Oil
A controlled clinical trial found that lavender oil served as a mild sedative and promoted deep sleep. Another study focused on patients immediately before surgery indicates that lavender slightly reduced anxiety in that situation.
Rosemary Essential Oil
The rosemary plant is a hearty evergreen with a potent, woodsy smell. A team of researchers at Northumbria University did two studies. They put one group into a room diffused with rosemary essential oil and put another group in a room with no scent. Both groups completed the same tasks. The researchers found that the rosemary essential oil improved memory and cognition in older adults and resulted in higher test scores for children.
Garlic Essential Oil with Herbs Defeats Lyme's Disease
At Johns Hopkins, the combination of essential oils from garlic cloves, myrrh trees, thyme leaves, cinnamon bark, allspice berries, and cumin seeds killed "persister" forms of Lyme bacteria that can otherwise plague patients for years and resist traditional antibiotics.
Lemon, Orange, and Bergamot Essential Oils
The combination of lemon, orange, and bergamot essential oils protect food systems by preventing the bacterial growth that could cause food poisoning, including e-coli.
Tee Tree Oil
If you haven't yet tried tea tree oil, it's a topical astringent with a robust smell first popularly used in Australia. It's applied directly to the skin.
Tea tree oil works as a natural acne treatment. Multiple studies show its activity as an antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal treatment.
Oregano oil is another potent herbal remedy. It works as an anti-bacterial and can be taken orally. One study tested oregano oil on 13 bacterial strains, including some that were resistant to antibiotics. Oregano oil effectively killed even antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Peppermint Oil May Reduce IBS Symptoms
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an increasingly common problem. The research discovered that a patient's nerves become hypersensitive, contributing to the irritation. Peppermint essential oil was shown to bring relief to IBS patients.
Pure essential oils are potent, and diluting them in carrier oil is vital when applying directly to the skin. Some people have allergic reactions to essential oils. If you get a red, itchy rash or hives after using them, see a medical professional.
Full-spectrum CBD is the distilled product of the industrial hemp plant mixed with a carrier oil and, by that definition, an essential oil.
However, instead of stimulating the olfactory system or being absorbed through the skin, CBD activates receptors in your endocannabinoid system.
A unique neural net that stretches from head to toe, the endocannabinoid system functions to help the body to maintain equilibrium. It regulates several processes, including mood, sleep, appetite, reproduction and fertility, and memory.
Find out more about full-spectrum CBD and the health benefits research has so far discovered.
Essential oils are not a substitute for medical care, but they can supplement wellness and support healing. Even if an oil does nothing than enhance your mood, it can have a positive effect on your health.
Funding for research is challenging to find, and few studies have been done. Even so, the results with a variety of essential oils are encouraging.
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