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Benefits of Essential Oils

By Paul Rothbart

One of the more recent trends in alternative therapy is the use of essential oils. They are distilled from the roots, leaves, and flowers of various plants. Their use in medical applications dates back centuries in some cultures. Research has found that essential do have benefits. They are used to improve mood, treat headaches, ease stress, and improve sleep. Since they are not regulated by the FDA, essential oils must be used with care as there are potential side effects. Most commonly, they are inhaled, but can also be used topically, or ingested. Here is some information and these three ways of using essential oils.


Not only the most common, but the safest method of utilizing essential oils, inhalation has few side effects outside of a possible allergy. This is called aromatherapy and involves placing a drop of oil on a piece of oil and inhaling it. Most often, the drop is placed in a diffuser, which sprays it into the air with water vapor. The used then inhales naturally. When the molecules of the essential oils are inhaled, it is thought that they have an effect on the limbic and nervous systems. They also can affect brain chemistry, metabolism, and hormones. In this way, inhaling the oils is calming and improves mood. Some possible side effects are sneezing, headache, and nausea. These subside once the user stops inhaling.

Topical Usage

Essential oils can also be rubbed on the skin to ease the pain of specific body parts. They are often used in this manner for sinus pain, back and muscle aches. There are a number of essential oils that can irritate the skin. These should never be directly applied, but diluted in non-irritating liquids called carrier oils. Oils distilled from oregano, bay leaves, cinnamon, clove, citronella, lemongrass, or thyme should never be placed directly on the skin as they are major irritants. It is a good idea to test any essential oil on a very small area of skin to make sure it won't cause irritation before applying it liberally. 


This is the least common way of using essential oils and the one with the most dangerous possible side effects. Sometimes, an essential oil may be taken as a medication or used in cooking. Small doses of some oils are safe, but many are very dangerous. Without FDA regulation, there is no uniformity of standard and no way of knowing the true hazards of ingesting an oil. If you want to try this method, only do so under the direction of a qualified essential oils therapist. The proper doses and dilution are vital as is consuming them with a dietary fat as essential oils are fat-soluble. 

Essential oils have been beneficial to help with physical, mental, and emotional issues. They are certainly worth trying, but caution must be taken to avoid the potential side effects, some of which are dangerous. Seek the guidance of a therapist who is trained in their usage. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Burnsville, Minn.

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