Essential oils are made up of tiny molecules that alter the mental, emotional and physical well-being by triggering various natural processes in the body. These are extracted from plants using a variety of methods including expression and distillation among others. In simple terms, essential oil derived from a plant contains the essential chemical and aromatic properties of that plant.
As mentioned above, each essential oil is made up of very minute molecules that can be easily absorbed by the body. Each essential oil has a unique chemical composition consisting of esters, ketones, alcohols, oxides, phenols, aldehydes and terpenes. These components interact with various bodily systems and affect them in a unique manner.
There are three different ways in which essential oils are used:
Since skin is semi-permeable, it allows the tiny molecules of essential oils to enter inside the body by permeating through the outer skin. When these oils are applied to the skin, the skin absorbs them just like other common pharmaceuticals such as nicotine patches and other creams. These molecules enter the bloodstream and are dispersed to various organs and systems where they start working.
Some of the common examples include application of ginger essential oil or black pepper essential oil for improving flexibility and reducing arthritis pain. Similarly, Chamomile essential oil is used for treatment of eczema and tea tree essential oil is also applied on the skin for treatment of fungal infections and various other such issues.
It is one of the more popular methods of using essential oils. Typically, a diffuser is used for inhaling essential oils in tiny quantities. When essential oils are inhaled, these airborne molecules interact with the olfactory system that consists of various physical organs that contribute to the sense of smell. These molecules have an almost immediate affect on the brain. The essential oil molecules inhaled through mouth also interact with the lungs and respiratory system.
The essential oil molecules travelling through the nose affect the body through a number of receptors sites. One of these sites is the limbic system that is directly connected to parts of the brain responsible for controlling blood pressure, memory, breathing, stress levels, heart rate and hormone balance. This is the reason that smell often triggers various emotions.
It is not a common practice for using essential oils but some people do ingest them. It is important to mention here that swallowing essential oils is a dangerous practice that may seriously affect the health. Therefore, one should ingest essential oils only under the supervision of trained physicians and pharmacists.
It is a well known that some essential oils can be highly toxic to kidneys or liver and the chemical breakdown of some oils may also change the effects of these oils inside the body. Essential oils may also interact with other drugs and decrease their effectiveness.
Overall, this is how essential oils work. It is important to carefully study the effects of various essential oils and use the right method to get maximum benefit from the essential oils. Also, essential oils should never be ingested or swallowed without proper supervision.