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What are Essential Oils?
The pure extracts derived from the different parts of the plant, viz. flowers, leaves, stems, etc. are termed essential oils. These compounds capture the scent, flavor and properties of the plant, in short, the essence of the plant; hence, are called essential oils. Most of the pure essential oils are extracted by a process known as steam distillation. A mechanical method like cold pressing is also often used. It is very important to check the authenticity and purity of the essential oils before using them, as the benefits derived from them are directly proportional to it.
Why Essential Oils are used
For centuries essential oils have been used in aromatherapy and naturopathy. The traditional system of alternative medicines has been using these oils to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. It is very recent that the Western Medicine System has focused on the benefits of these plant compounds.
Essential oils are administered, primarily in three ways – topical application, ingestion and inhalation. Some of the research conducted on essential oils have shown that inhaling the aroma of essential oils deeply impacts our limbic system. The limbic system is part of our brain that is responsible for long term memory, emotions, sense of smell and our overall behavior. The most interesting job performed by the limbic system is forming and retaining memories. It also controls quite a few of our physiological systems including respiration, cardiac function and blood pressure. Through essential oils, the physical well-being of our body can be ensured.
Essential oils have historically been part of the beauty regimen of women. Of late, the cosmetic and beauty industry has started incorporating the benefits of these oils in their products. For example, it is not unusual to find lavender essential oil in products meant to treat acne. People are waking up to the all-natural, chemical free way of personal care which is not only more beneficial but also free from harmful side effects. With zero ammonia, no paraben, our skin will definitely be more thankful.
Some of the essential oils are instant mood lifters. Using them in a diffuser boosts your state of emotions along with therapeutic effects. Add a bit of cheerfulness to your evenings by using a few drops of essential oil of your choice in a diffuser. You may have noticed them as a permanent feature at spas. Now you know why!
Types of Essential Oil
Primarily, essential oils come in two forms-
Blends are generally more powerful and effective. You could make your own blend or buy the ones made professionally. Now, this brings us to the most commonly asked question – Why blends? Read on to find out.
Why use a blend in place of single essential oil?
Let me ask you a question. What is more beneficial and wholesome - a plate of lettuce or a plate of salad? The answer without a doubt would be the plate of salad, right? Why? Because it contains nutrients from a variety of vegetables that do more good to your body collectively than the nutrients from lettuce alone. Likewise, when two or more single essential oils are combined, the resulting oil is far more effective than its single counterpart.
The synergies of different individual essential oils when mixed into one act separately as well as in a symphonic manner. Each one brings out the prime effects that cannot be traced to one individual oil. In common terms, the resulting combination is more powerful than their individual impact. For example, chamomile oil is anti-inflammatory in nature. But when it is appropriately blended with lavender essential oil in the right proportion, the anti-inflammatory property of chamomile oil is increased manifold. Therefore, for the treatment of any ailment, the blend between chamomile and lavender is far better than the individual essential oils.
Each essential oil possesses a different frequency with which it penetrates both our body and mind at different levels. Higher frequencies are the best to tend to any mental issue while the middle frequencies cater to respiratory function, digestive system, metabolism and emotions. The oils with deeper notes evaporate slowly and hence are considered good for improving concentration, creating and sustaining focus, etc. When an ailment disturbs you, it is more often than not a package of physical and mental disturbance together. If you treat the physical ailment with one essential oil, what about the mental pain and vice versa. Also, some essential oil needed for the treatment may be extremely strong and the body might not be able to bear it. For eg., clary sage gives a lot of people a headache when used singularly. That is why blends are beneficial. The different oils mixed together carry different frequencies that can work together to create harmony. Extra strong essential oils are blended with other oils that can mitigate the strong effect of the former. This enables their usage without causing any discomfort. Blends help essential oils perform their function effectively and without any harsh side effects. They are especially useful to people with special sensitivities like children, the elderly or pregnant women.
Like a melody is a combination of different musical notes yet unique in itself, blends of different essential oils may have therapeutic effects and mesmerizing aromas of their own which may or may not be traced to the characteristics of the single essential oils. In fact, most blends work in such a way to hide the weaker compounds in the single essential oils that may trigger an adverse reaction. The wonderful thing about blends is their customization. Not everyone would be allergic to one compound in an oil. Different people have different sensitivities. Thus mixing different oils, it is possible to make a customized blend in accordance with individual requirements. Lavender is a great essential oil for calming and promoting sleep. But on its own, many people dislike its scent or find it too strong for their liking. Lavender when blended with others of the same range becomes much more tolerable without having any bearing on its capabilities. Blends make things much easier than the single essential oil.
How to Blend?
Although you can blend your own essential oils, it is still recommended to buy professionally blended oils. The way and the order in which the oils are added have a great bearing on the final composition of the blend and its effectiveness. So unless you are very sure of it, it is better to go for pre-blended oils. Also, the purity of individual oils makes a huge difference in the quality of the blend. If you are blending the oils, ensure that the single essential oils are of the highest quality. Generally, this tends to be more expensive than buying the same blend from the market unless you want to do it in bulk.
Blends are always more effective than the individual essential oils as they tackle a host of issues together through the various mix of oils in one go. Their potency is far greater than their single counterpart. Include them in your lifestyle and get ready to be surprised by the positive impact on your body and mind!
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