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Essential oils are created by concentrating the useful essences of plants and flowers using steam distillation or solvent extraction. The result is an oil which embodies the attributes and distinctive fragrance of the plant. Essential oils have been used throughout history as medicinal agents, skin treatments, perfumes and disinfectants. They have also been an important element of spiritual and meditative practices. Many cultures feature essential oils and plant essences as part of their natural healing traditions. They are a prominent element of traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic and Native American medicine.
One of the most popular uses for essential oils today is aromatherapy. The wonderful fragrances are addictive and fun but also offer much more. Inhaling certain natural plant essences can provide relief from many negative mental states or enhance positive ones. The limbic system, which is the part of the brain responsible for emotions, mood, cognition and memory, is stimulated by chemical reactions that occur when we smell something. Aromatherapy works on the principle that certain botanical fragrances elicit specific emotional or mental reactions. Aromatherapy can improve energy levels, lift depression, suppress appetite, inspire creativity, promote relaxation, ease anxiety and aid concentration. You may notice that lavender and chamomile essential oils are often present in products that are marketed as “relaxing” or “calming.” This is because both essences are known to produce relaxation when inhaled. You will find that the possibilities and combinations are almost endless when you learn to use essential oils to help improve your state of mind.
Aromatherapy can be practiced in both simple and complex ways. Carefully inhaling the fragrance of a pure essential oil from its bottle is highly effective, but there are many other creative ways to enjoy its effects. Various oils can be blended together with a base to create mood-elevating perfumes. They can be added in small amounts to bath products such as bath salts, body oils, lotions or liquid soaps and shampoos. They can also be used in diffusers, potpourri, incense or room sprays.
Greener Household Options
Instead of using commercial disinfectants and household cleaners, you can harness the power of nature to make your own homemade cleaners with antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and deodorizing properties that are just as effective as store-bought cleansers but without the harmful chemicals and plastic waste. Tea tree oil is a popular choice for cleaning, since it not only kills germs but has a fresh smell and deodorizes well. Citrus oils like lemon and sweet orange are also popular for cleaning. Creating green cleaners for the whole house is as simple as gathering your desired essential oils and a few basic ingredients like borax, baking soda, olive oil, vinegar, castile soap and grain alcohol. An online search for “homemade cleaners with essential oils” will yield a ton of links to money-saving natural cleaner recipes. You may also be interested in using essential oils for making insect repellant or non-toxic animal deterrents.
Use and Care of Your Essential Oils
Choosing pure essential oils is the first step to enjoying their many benefits. Do not confuse them with fragrance oils or synthetic products. Some oils may be used full-strength, but most should be diluted, especially if they are to come into contact with skin or be inhaled from a vaporizer. Some essential oils are very potent, and could cause irritation if improperly used. A carrier oil such as sesame, olive or jojoba oil is often used for diluting massage oil blends. Whichever oil you choose, be sure that you are aware of what the oil is intended for and what properties it has. If you are scenting another product, only use a few drops. Use oils with caution if you have sensitive skin. Essential oils should be kept in a cool, dry place and away from sunlight. Most oils should be replaced after a year.
You can find an excellent collection of essential oils for aromatherapy, beauty, health and household use here at Cleopatra’s Choice. Enjoy exploring the tempting aromas, healing powers and exciting promises offered by nature and captured in our carefully selected line.