Essential oils are hydrophobic liquids extracted from natural sources such as plant leaves, fruits, flowers or seeds. They are extracted through processes such steam distillation, expression, absolute oil extraction, solvent extraction, cold pressing and resin tapping.
They are not oils in the strict sense of the word, it is only that they share the hydrophobic characteristic with normal oils. They are also called essential simply because they carry their original plant’s aroma.
Interest in these oils has been revived in the recent decades and they are finding wide application from medicinal, fragrance and household use.
Bugs such as mosquitoes, fleas, and flies use the natural body odor that your skin secretes, such as CO2 and Ammonia to detect your presence.
When you apply a stronger scent that will shroud your natural smell, the insects won’t locate their target and that’s the role of bug deterrents, both organic and inorganic.
Natural essential oils such as peppermint, citronella and geranium oils have the added advantage of reduced toxic effects to the user. They, therefore, make the best bug spray for babies.
Medical and pharmacological use
A good number of organic essential oils such as Germanium oil, Peppermint, and Lemongrass have antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiseptic properties which find application in a variety of medications. These include skin treatment, cancer remedy, and dentistry.
In the stomach, typical essential oil ingredients such as eucalyptus, methanol, anise, capsaicin, and camphor can relax the gastric sphincter and encourage belching. They also produce antispasmodic effect further down the gut.
Different natural essential oils have drastic differences in pharmacology. Some act as counterirritants exerting an antitussive effect. Other oils such as agathosma and juniper are highly valued diuretic agents and their clinical use is being examined.
Several organic essential oils such as peppermint are expectorants and they affect the mucous membranes in either beneficial or harmful ways. One beneficial way is clearing lung, throat, and nose and sinuses congestion. A harmful effect produced by oils such as turpentine and camphor is irritation and contact dermatitis.
In high concentrations, they can lead to reactions such as allergies, nerve or skin burning, fertility effects and even rare cases of death.
Some essential oils such as Zingiber officinale (essential oil of ginger) have been used to produce sedative and anesthetic effects important in surgery and dentistry. However, for some people, they can cause reactions such as nausea and vomiting even when carrier oil is used.
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of aroma from the essential oils of herbs, flowers, seeds and other plant matter. The scent of oils such as lavender, cinnamon, and peppermint have been claimed to produce therapeutic effects such cooling headaches and migraines, reducing skin irritation and calming stress and anxiety. When used in massage, users have reported effects such as reinvigorating numbness and soothing sore muscles.
Though experts refute these claims and even assert that these products may have long-term side effects, the growing popularity of aromatherapy is due to the feedback and demand from users.
Perfumery and flavor
Imagine donning a non-toxic cologne that gives you additional benefits such as claiming stress and anxiety? Essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, lemon essential oil, jojoba, cinnamon, and sandalwood have for long been used as perfumes to arouse good feelings and cover the body odor.
In fact, up to 98% of essential oils produced find use in perfumes, soaps, shampoos and household cleaners and the rest in medicine and aromatherapy.
They are also used to make food flavors and spices.
Those are the current major uses of natural essential oils and we can only wait and see what other use the growing interest in these products will produce.