Did you know that scientists have discovered about 350,000 vascular plant species? What’s more, about 7% of those species have documented medicinal or therapeutic use.
Many of those plants, in turn, undergo processing that turns them into essential oils. These are plant extracts often used in the holistic treatment known as aromatherapy.
With that said, it pays to learn the most crucial essential oil facts if you plan to use such products yourself. While most are generally safe, their incorrect use can still cause more harm than good.
To that end, we created this guide discussing essential oil information. Read on as it can help you make a more educated decision when buying and using these plant products.
1. There Are Thousands of Types of Essential Oil
So far, scientists have physically and chemically characterized over 3,000 essential oils. However, only about 150 of those undergo industrial-scale manufacturing. Peppermint, lavender, sandalwood, chamomile, and tea tree oils are to name a few.
2. The Essential Oils Market is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
Experts estimated the global essential oils market value to be at $18.6 billion in 2020. What’s more, they expect it to almost double and reach $35.5 billion by 2028.
The spa and relaxation sector, in turn, is the biggest user of essential oils. That’s because more and more people are turning to their facilities for aromatherapy.
3. Essential Oils Differ from Essential Nutrients
The term essential has different meanings for essential nutrients and essential oils.
Essential nutrients are those needed by the human body. There are 28 such vitamins and minerals, playing many roles in the body’s processes. So, without them, people can become undernourished and develop various illnesses.
By contrast, the term “essential” in essential oils refers to the source plants’ essence. That essence is what gives certain plants their odor and flavor.
In other words, essential oils, unlike essential nutrients, aren’t crucial for the body. Even without them, the body can still perform its critical physiological processes. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not helpful, as some have potential health benefits.
4. Many People Use Essential Oils to Improve Moods
As many as two in 10 US adults experience a mood disorder at some point in their lives. Such mental conditions include anxiety disorders, depression, and bipolar disorders.
Fortunately, it appears that certain essential oils can be beneficial for moods. Examples are lavender, sandalwood, chamomile, and lemon essential oils. There are also anecdotal and clinical reports about these extracts promoting anxiety relief.
5. Inhalation Is the Most Common Way to Use Essential Oils
Aromatherapy derived its name from the words aroma and therapy. It’s an alternative treatment method that uses the potential therapeutic effects of fragrances. According to studies, it has a history dating back at least 6,000 years.
So, it’s no wonder that inhalation remains the most common method for using essential oils. You can breathe in their wonderful aroma either straight out of the bottle or with a diffuser.
However, be extra careful when using diffusers, especially if you plan to use them in a shared space. One reason is that some individuals may experience allergic reactions to their odors. For example, people with pollen allergies may also be sensitive to plant smells.
6. You Can Apply Essential Oils to Your Skin
Aside from inhalation, you can also place small amounts of essential oil directly on the skin.
There are several topical application techniques often used in aromatherapy massages. According to the folks at Mylsp.com, one of those is the Neuroauricular technique. It involves applying essential oils to the back of the skull, the ears’ rims, or along the spine.
If you want to use essential oils on your skin, though, be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil first. For example, you can mix the plant extract with vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, or argan oil.
In any case, don’t apply pure essential oil to your skin, as it might put you at risk of contact dermatitis.
7. Always Perform a Patch Test Before Using Essential Oils
A patch test is a way to determine how your skin may react to essential oils. It involves applying a small amount of diluted oil to a tiny section of your skin.
You can conduct the test on an area of your forearm before going for a complete application.
To do a patch test, wash your skin with unscented soap first. Next, gently dry the area before rubbing a few drops of the diluted essential oil onto it. Then, cover the spot with gauze and wait for 24 hours before taking it off.
If your skin develops a rash or turns red, itchy, or swollen, that means you’ve had an adverse reaction to the oil. In that case, discontinue its use.
If any discomfort arises before the 24-hour test is up, wash the area right away with soap and warm water. It’s best not to use the oil anymore, as discomfort indicates an allergic reaction.
If no symptoms develop within 24 hours, though, that’s a good sign that you can keep using the oil. Just remember that what’s safe for you may not be safe for another person. So, if someone else in your household wants to try the oil, conduct a patch test on their skin, too.
8. Essential Oils Can Be Dangerous When Ingested
Essential oils are generally safe when inhaled or have undergone proper dilution. However, they can be toxic in even small amounts if taken by mouth. There are even some, such as wintergreen, that can be deadly if ingested.
For those reasons, please practice care and caution when using essential oils. It’s also wise to store them in a location where kids and pets can’t reach or see them.
Always Keep These Essential Oil Facts in Mind
There you have it, your comprehensive guide on interesting, must-know essential oil facts. Now, you know they can be beneficial, but they can also pose health risks if misused. So, always use them with care, and don’t forget to conduct patch tests if you want to apply them to your skin.
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