Essential Oils A Natural Substance

For over several thousands of years, humans have been employing essential oils for therapeutic purposes as well as sustaining good health. In effect, the ancient Egyptians extensively used essential oils. Currently, essential oils are used extensively in lotions meant for external use, aromatherapy, comforting baths and in a great assortment of herbal medications.

Any attempt to define essential oils accurately as well as in a few words is really difficult. For all practical purposes, one may possibly depict essential oils in the form of natural odoriferous (having potent fragrance) compounds that are present in or separated from plant materials. Generally, essential oils are in liquid form (in some exceptional cases they may be in semi-solid form, but seldom found in solid form), are not water soluble and volatile when they come in contact with steam. Essential oils evaporate at dissimilar paces under normal atmospheric pressure and at room temperature. Therefore, they are alternately referred to as ‘ethereal’ or ‘volatile’ oils too. In fact, the general term ‘essential’ is derived from the Latin expression ‘essentia’ – the ‘quinta essentia’, which the ancient alchemists regarded to be the attribute as well as the most vital element of all natural substances.

The comparatively rapid pace of evaporation of the essential oils and their distinct smell, apart from the chemical make-up of these oils, make them basically different from the stable, fatty oils. Among the several thousands of plant species identified by humans so far, comparatively a very little number of them provide essential oils. The essential oils actually develop either all over the complete plant or only in particular parts. A number of essential oils are found only in the roots, or the timber, bark, leaves, flowers or the fruits of the plants. In a number of instances, different parts of the same plant may possibly enclose essential oils of dissimilar composition.

Over the years, numerous theories have been put forward to elucidate the essential oils’ biochemistry; nevertheless, none of them has been established as being totally acceptable. Possibly, the essential oils are just purging products in the life progression of the plants. If this is the case, they are similar to specific gums, resins and balsams; however, a number of essential oils definitely seem to be the forerunners of this type of exudation products.

It may be noted that as far as their physicochemical attributes are concerned, the essential oils greatly differ and their chemical composition is generally complicated. Some of them are near exclusively made up of only one element, for instance, the essential oils obtained from sweet birch (methyl salicylate), wintergreen and cassia oil (cinnamaldehyde). However, the majority of the essential oils enclose a greater number of ingredients, sometimes 50 or even more – which is something not atypical. These individual constituents are members of numerous categories of organic compounds, especially the sesquiterpenes and terpenes, and their esters, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, oxides, and lactones among other things. A number of these essential oils are open chained, while several of them are cyclic and bicyclic. Some of them also belong to the aromatic series, for instance, benzyl acetate and phenylethyl alcohol, and findings of recent studies have revealed that the azulenes appear to have a vital function in the essential oils.

An analysis of the essential oils can be achieved by conventional physiochemical examinations, for instance, finding out the specific gravity, solubility in alcohol, optical rotation, boiling point and others. In addition, it is also possible to verify the free acids, esters, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, phenols and phenol ethers through conventional tests. Recently, scientists have made vast advancement in examining essential oils, especially in isolating as well as identifying individual components, by means of introducing state-of-the-art chromatographic and spectroscopic methods, for instance, infrared and ultraviolet (UV) absorption, nuclear magnetic resonance, gas and thin layer chromatography as well as mass spectrometry. As the smell will continue to be a vital decisive factor always, the assay of an essential oil will not be absolute without cautious organoleptic examinations. However, it requires substantial experience on the part of the examiner to undertake the organoleptic tests of essential oils.

Majority of the essential oils are actually isolated from different parts of plants, for example, the leaves, stem, wood, roots, flowers, and bark, by means of a process known as hydro-distillation – partially in primordial, changeable stills – and partially in contemporary stationary distilleries. Only in the instance of citrus oils, which are present in the peel or coverings of the citrus fruits, essential oils are isolated by means of expressing the peel mechanically. Specific varieties of flowers are actually extremely fragile and, hence, the essential oils enclosed by them are unable to endure the hydro-distillation process, neither are they suitable for expression. Hence, the essential oils contained by such flowers need to be isolated by means of extraction using volatile solvents (generally, extremely refined petroleum ether) to yield the purported natural flower oils in a real, solid variety that can be converted into complete, liquid form. Such flowers include jasmine, acacia, tuberose, mimosa and the like. It is possible to process a number of flowers, including bitter orange blossom and rose, either by means of hydro-distillation or through solvent extraction.

The amount of essential oil yielded by a plant actually varies depending on the species. In the majority of instances, the yield varies from approximately 0.2 percent to 2.0 percent. However, rose oil also known as Otto of rose and clover oil are two extreme examples in this case. While rose yields only 0.025 percent of essential oil, clover yields as high as 17.0 percent of clover oil.

It may be noted that several regions of the world produce essential oils, especially those having warm as well as temperate climatic conditions.

Not more than a hundred types of essential oils have already achieved genuine commercial significance. These essential oils are extensively used to add fragrance as well as essence to nearly a limitless assortment of consumer items, including food products, chewing gums, confectionery, pharmaceutical, and dental formulations, alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic drinks, soaps, room sprays, detergents, insecticides, perfumes, and cosmetics. They have also employed to camouflage the odor in artificial products, for instance, rubber goods, leathers, and plastics.

 

Health benefits of essential oils

It has been proved that the essential oils offer numerous health benefits. They are obtained from the leaves, flowers, stems, barks as well as the roots of plants by means of distillation. Essential oils may have a direct or indirect effect on our body’s physiological system. For instance, taking a few drops of peppermint oil by mouth may promote digestion. Similarly, breathing in lavender oil causes a soothing impact.

A number of essential oils may be taken orally to aid in stimulating digestion, while several other essential oils are applied topically to alleviate inflammation and provide relief from pain. Essential oils having antiseptic as well as anti-fungal attributes are also employed to sterilize and cure scrapes, cuts as well as other injuries and skin complaints.

Aromatherapy is one area where essential oils are employed extensively. The use of essential oils in aromatherapy is not only very popular but has also proved to be useful in curing physical, emotional as well as aesthetic conditions. A number of essential oils have a tranquilizing and also invigorating effect on our nervous system and they can either raise or lower the blood pressure and regularize secretion of hormones in some way.

In addition, inhaling the steam of essential oils is helpful in the treatment of respiratory problems, for instance, a cold or influenza. The essential oils that are effectual for inhaling comprise eucalyptus, angelica, cypress, sage, myrtle, lemongrass, lemon, ocean pine, mountain pine, chamomile, juniper, niaouli, thyme, cedar, and hyssop. It may be noted that steam inhalation of essential oil is usually not suggested for people suffering from asthma.

Employing essential oils for lymphatic massage is actually a typical aromatherapy treatment that activates the healing process of the body by means of inciting the blood circulation as well as lymph fluid. It needs to be noted cautiously that nearly all essential oils ought to be diluted prior to applying them directly to the skin, since direct application of essential oils may result in acute exasperation.

Normally, essential oils are diluted in the ratio of 15 drops of the oil to one ounce (approximately 28.35 grams) of carrier oil. It may be noted that carrier oil is basically any vegetable oil that is obtained by using the compress method on the fatty part of the seeds, kernels or nuts, for instance, wheat germ, almond, coconut, hazelnut, olive oil, jojoba and aloe vera oil.

There are a number of essential oils that alleviate the taut muscles and augment blood circulation. Such essential oils comprise lemongrass, lemon, rosemary, lemon verbena, juniper, lavender, birch, cinnamon and Swiss pine oils. On the other hand, essential oils that have a calming effect include petitgrain, Roman chamomile, rose, bergamot, lavender, mimosa, neroli, geranium, sandalwood, orange, cedar, rosewood, and tangerine. When you employ the facial and body oils every day, it helps to nurture the skin. Essential oils that are used for deep body massage comprise rose, jasmine, sandalwood, orange, cinnamon, ylang-ylang, and iris.

Adding a few drops of essential oils to your bath will help to promote relaxation as well as lift your spirits. You may add five to ten drops of your preferred essential oil to the bath water and enjoy the benefits. Nevertheless, it is advisable that people having sensitive skin ought to dilute the essential oil by adding base oil. Ensure that you wipe the tub properly after the bath, since essential oils may leave stains on some type of tubs.

Having a comforting foot bath using essential oils is a wonderful experience. Add four drops of rosemary, peppermint and thyme oils to a big basin filled with water and soak your feet in it for some minutes to bring back life to your tired feet. In order to get some extra comfort, after you have soaked your feet, massage some lavender oil on them.

In addition, essential oils are useful in curing insomnia (sleeplessness) or to bring on a peaceful sleep all through the night. For this, you may add a few drops of the essential oil of your preference to perfume your pillow.

Last, but not the least important, handkerchiefs are an extremely handy means to utilize essential oils. Inhaling a handkerchief perfumed by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil will help to alleviate the tension and pressure that build up all through the day. Adding only two or three drops of the essential oil to a handkerchief will be enough to serve the purpose.

Several types of synthetic or man-made oils are also available and they are generally much inexpensive compared to their natural equivalents. However, such synthetically prepared oils never possess the same curative attributes or results that are present in the natural essential oils. In addition, always bear in mind that essential oils are completely dissimilar to the ‘scented’ or ‘perfume’ oils – which are also known as fragrance oils.

It may be noted that perfume or fragrance oils enclose elements as well as chemicals that are not always obtained from plant sources. Very much similar to the man-made oils, fragrance or perfume oils also do not possess any remedial or healing attributes. This is the primary reason why it is always very important to carefully read the labels on all products that you plan to employ for aromatherapy.

Use Of Essential Oils

Contrary to the common perception, essential oils are not oily, but undiluted liquids enclosing effervescing fragrant compounds usually distilled from different parts of plants, including leaves, flowers, stem, bark, and roots. Essential oils actually possess the genuine aroma and concentrate of the plants they have been obtained from and are hence known as ‘essential’. Essential oils are very valuable and a small amount sustains for long. They are also called ‘volatile’ or ‘ethereal’ oils and most essential oils are usually clear in appearance. Speaking precisely, every year people around the globe harvest thousands of tons of trees, shrubs, aromatic plants, flowers, roots and grasses and distill them most frequently by steam to obtain essential oils and absolutes.

Where do essential oils come from?

The aromatic matters found in the plants are produced in the chloroplasts of the leaves. These distinctively smelling substances coalesce with glucose in the chloroplasts to develop into glucides, which later flow around the plant. The glucides accumulate in specific parts of the plants either at a particular time during the day or the year.

However, the essential oils are also formed in the tissues that perform the function of secretion in a number of plants, while in other plants they are blended with glycosides. In the second instance, the essential oils are usually not evident till the plant is dehydrated or squashed. An ideal example of this is the valerian. It is important to note that the essential oils are deemed to be performing significant roles in the food assimilation process or metabolism of the plants. While a number of essential oils have hormonal actions, others comprise a phase in some other development. For instance, the essential oil present in the rind or peel of the orange is basically a phase in the process of vitamin A synthesis.

Significantly, the essential oils may be present in nearly all parts of the plant. However, their concentration varies depending on the plant as well as the moment in time of a day or a period in a year. For instance, essential oils are found in the roots of calamus and valerian, flowers like the lavender and rose, barks of the sandalwood and cedar-wood trees, fruits such as the lemons, cardamoms and oranges, berries like juniper and leaves of the thyme, rosemary, and sage.

All plants possessing the essence ought to be harvested at a particular point of time during the day, in the right time of year and specific weather situations to enable one to extract the greatest amount of essential oils from the plants. In addition to these, as in the case of any other herbs (therapeutic or dietetic), the quality of the soil on which the plants are grown as well as the atmospheric or climatic conditions at a particular place also influence the amount and quality of the essential oils acquired from plants.

Absolutes are a special type of essential oils that are profound (heavy) and undiluted in nature. The essential oils extracted from flowers such as the roses and jasmines are perfect examples of absolutes. On the other hand, the essential oils that are in solid form at room temperature and need to be heated prior to use are known as balsams. Typical examples of the balsams include essential oils such as camphor and benzoin.

Properties of essential oils

It is important to note that though many essential oils may possess features that are exclusive to them, they may have common medicinal actions and utilities. In fact, more or less, all concentrates possessed by plants are antiseptic or insipid in nature. The essential oils derived from eucalyptus, thyme, and the tea tree are best examples of this statement. In addition, a number of plant distillates also possess anti-viral characteristics. Among them, the essential oils extracted from garlic and the tea trees are the most potent.

Generally, the concentrate obtained from garlic is not used for aromatherapy massage for understandable reasons. However, as an alternative, the essential oil obtained from garlic is used as a medication as garlic capsules. Several concentrates obtained from a plant such as a rosemary and juniper are known to be effective in alleviating or preventing rheumatism. Massaging these essential oils on the surface of the skin invigorates the flow of blood as well as things pertaining to the lymph and boosts the supply of oxygen to the aching regions of the body. This process helps to remove the undesired elements such as the uric acid and lactic acid from the system. It may be mentioned here that the wastes such as uric acids and lactic acids are largely responsible for the acute pain endured by people enduring arthritic and rheumatic symptoms.

Medicinal aromatherapy

Numerous essential oils, as well as herbal medications, also possess a fascinating feature and that is their ability to normalize or produce various natural substances that work through the adrenal glands to produce adjustments in the body to combat stress and increase resistance to stress, and which usually produce no side effects. In fact, scientists in Eastern Europe have discovered that garlic possesses a special property whereby it can raise unusually low blood pressure and at the same time lower very high blood pressure.

In fact, the essential oil obtained from hyssop is said to possess a similar action like garlic. Several pieces of research have demonstrated that the hyssop essential oil makes the blood pressure to rise, subsequently fall and finally stabilize it at normal conditions. Interestingly, such a feature is unique for essential oils obtained from garlic and hyssop and is absolutely absent in any artificial or chemical medicine.

It is important to note that a number of physicians engaged in the field of remedial aromatherapy have also found that combinations of specific concentrates are more potent compared to the individual essential oils present in the blend. They are of the opinion that this is primarily owing to an inexplicable combined effort of the concentrates at work. As a result, the impact of the blends is more compared to the total of each of the individual essential oils in the combination. This phenomenon is especially evident in the case of the antibacterial activity of the essential oils. For instance, a combination of essential oils obtained from thyme, clove, lavender, and peppermint is much more potent compared to what the chemist may anticipate of the combination considering the collective chemical elements of the essential oils in the blend.

While a blend of a few essential oils may prove to be more powerful than the total strength of each of them, it has been intriguingly noted that when more than five concentrates are blended together the result is harmful or counter-productive. However, a number of essential oils are extraordinarily aggressive against microbial germs even when they are used individually. For instance, the essential oil derived from the lemon is so aggressive that it counteracts typhoid, diphtheria and pneumonia bacteria below three hours! With a view to determining the essential oils that are most suited and effective for any individual, the French aromatherapy physicians normally undertake a special test known as the aromatogram that is said to be a vital key in optimizing treatment with aromatherapy. Employing the aromatogram entails collecting a layer from a contaminated region of the patient’s body, culturing the substance in a laboratory and subsequently testing it with at least 15 different essential oils to ascertain the right combination of the oils that would be most effectual for treating the infections in a particular person. Once the most powerful oils have been identified, they are produced as capsules and given to the patient for oral administration. It is surprising to note that under this form of treatment different combinations of essential oils are used to treat the same infections in different individuals. Hence, there is no fixed formula for treating any particular infection, but it depends on the individuals enduring the contagions.

Some therapeutic properties of essential oils

A number of essential oils possess some special remedial properties, including antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, cytophylactic and sedative. These topics are discussed in brief below.

ANTISEPTIC

As discussed earlier, more or less all essential oils possess antiseptic properties, which is one of their most noteworthy and helpful features. In fact, an expansive depiction of ‘antisepsis’ comprises anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-viral and common anti-microbial actions that are present in essential oils obtained from fruits, leaves, roots, flowers, and barks of plants such as lemon, thyme, garlic, tea tree, lavender, pine, sandalwood, cinnamon and eucalyptus.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Essential oils possessing anti-inflammation features aid in alleviating irritation and tenderness. Normally, the indications of inflammation include aches, swelling, redness and sectional or complete loss of the concerned tissues. Some of the essential oils that possess anti-inflammatory features include concentrates obtained from rose, chamomile, sandalwood, lavender, benzoin, and myrrh.

CYTOPHYLACTIC

Many essential oils also help in restoring tissue function as well as the renewal of cells. Essential oils derived from basil, pine and rosemary are known to possess such extraordinary features. They are said to reinstate the performance of the adrenal glands, while the concentrate present in cypress, jasmine, and ylang-ylang help to renew the functioning of the reproductive endocrine glands. On the other hand, essential oils derived from lavender and chamomile also rekindle the renewal of the cells in the dermis.

SEDATIVE

Many essential oils also have a distinct impact on the nervous system as their administration/ application leads to relaxation, comfort, alleviate pain, mitigate muscle contractions and soothe the nerve cells. Generally, essential oils obtained from rose, neroli, lavender, ylang-ylang, and geranium possess these special properties.

Using Essential Oils

In actual essence, essential oils do not denote any oil but are unpolluted extracts from a wide range of plant parts, including the leaves, petals, flower heads, seeds, nut kernels, stalks, and barks as well as gums and resins obtained from trees. In fact, the essential oils enclose the active element of any plant in an extremely condensed and powerful form. They are called essential oils as these substances are very vital for various human functions. It is important to water down or dilute the unpolluted and concentrated essential oils before applying them to the skin as they are really very potent.

As mentioned above, although the essential oils are referred to as ‘oil’, they do not possess any oily feeling. In fact, the majority of the essential oils are lucid. However, some of them, like orange, lemongrass, and patchouli have an amber or yellowish hue.

The essential oils are produced in the tiny hollow spaces in the plant cells. Depending on the plant, they may be found in the petals, seeds, roots or even peel as in the instance of the oils extracted from the citrus fruits. These essential oils are removed from the plant parts by the distillation process or cold pressing. It may be mentioned here that the essential oils may differ significantly both in terms of cost and attributes or quality. A number of aspects, such as the scarcity of the plant, the country and the environment in which the plant was cultivated, may have an impact on the price and the quality of the essential oils. The price and quality of the essential oils are also determined by factors like the standard of the distiller and the quantity of oil produced by the plant.

Here are two examples to enable you to comprehend the matter better. While 100 kg of rose petals yield merely 20 ml of rose oil, it required 100 kg of leaves to produce 1 to 1.5 liters of peppermint oil. Although this particular aspect creates a difference in the price of rose oil and peppermint oil, it essentially does not reflect that one is less effectual than the other. As the essential oils enclose the real concentrate of the plant from which they are extracted, a tiny amount of it not only lasts for long but is also extremely effective.

It may be noted here that the essential oils do not mean any perfume or aromatic oil. The essential oils are actually extracted from real plants and offer therapeutic benefits, but the perfume oils are manufactured synthetically. Moreover, the perfume oils contain synthetic substances that create an artificial aroma and hence do not have any remedial value.

The remedial essential oils have the potential of offering several advantages and produce an intense effect on the body as well as the mind. It is possible to get relief from a headache or restore the vigor lost during the day by means of essential oils. The essential oils are fantastic and very simple to use in a bath, foot-bath or hand bath. When you massage with essential oils in the characteristic aromatherapy manner, it helps to invigorate the blood circulation throughout the body. At the same time, it sets off the natural healing process of the body. The fragrances of the essential oils have an impact on the sensitive hub of the brain and control our feelings.

In order to set free the natural aromas of the essential oils, one must use fragrance burners, aroma stones or spraying flasks. When you do this, you will be amazed to see how wonderfully it works on your body and mind.

Essential oil fragrance burner

Essential oil fragrance burners are normally used for bigger areas so that the fragrance may linger for quite some time. It may be mentioned here that the more space, the more quantity of essential oil will be needed. As the essential oils fade away very fast distributing their aromas all over the room, you may need to add more oil after some time with a view to preserve the impact.

Spraying flask

Usually, spraying flasks are used to produce a brief, but the instant effect in a room or any other place. In fact, spraying flasks may even be used inside a car either to stimulate your energy or to diminish the odor in the interior of the vehicle. In the event of having colds close to you, you may spray with lemon or once you have vacuumed the area, you may use your preferred essential oil or a combination of different oils. Alternately, you may also spray the covers, pillows, and mattresses with lemon and lavender to make them smell clean and fresh.

Aroma stones (Sandstones)

Aroma stones are generally used to emanate aroma for an extended period of time in small areas like toilets, halls, cupboards or even the chests. Using peppermint aroma stones in cars is very beneficial as it enables you to keep your focus and simultaneously neutralize car sickness. In addition, an aroma stone may also be used as a part of the decoration of the house or office.

It is important to keep in mind that you can use the essential oils in abundant ways to reinstate the synchronization of your mind and the body. For instance, you may use the essential oils as a remedy for headaches, air fresheners and even enhance your concentration while studying for examinations. These are only a few ways; there are many more ways – virtually anything that you may think of. You may even blend a number of essential oils with a view to realize a specific health benefit or merely combine them to enjoy their aromatic sensation. In fact, the chemical constitution and the fragrance of the essential oils are capable of providing you with precious emotional and physical healing advantages. Normally, such benefits may be attained by several means that may comprise breathing as well as external application of the watered down or diluted essential oils on the skin.

As the essential oils are highly concentrated and very powerful, they are normally diluted by adding any carrier oil, such as apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, grape seed oil and others before applying them on the skin. So, when you are using an essential oil, you are actually using a watered-down blend of oils. This makes it easier for the skin to soak up the essential oils.

Inhaling the essential oils cautiously also provide important remedial advantages. When you inhale the essential oils in moderation, the oil molecules go into your lungs and are then soaked up by the bloodstream.

One may buy the essential oils in the form of blends of a number of unpolluted essential oils. When you purchase a blend of essential oils, you actually get some benefits. For instance, if you were to purchase a pure blend of essential oils, you don’t need to procure all the essential oils separately. While doing so would not only be very expensive, but you would also have to take the trouble of blending the particular essential oil you purchased proportionately with other oils. It is must be mentioned here that it requires great expertise and some experience to do the job.

Utilities of Essential Oils

Essential oils have multiple and varied uses. They are used in the manufacture of perfumes and to add aroma to skin care items. They are also added as drops to a vaporizer (spray) and also in spraying flask with a view to producing a specific environment, to put off a cold or just to refresh the air. Essential oils are also used in baths, foot-baths or hand baths with the objective to warm or loosen up cold limbs. In addition, essential oils are also used for foot-baths, hand baths and baths to generate an invigorating effect. They are used in compresses for cooling effects of sunburn. When added to massages and any skin care oils, the essential oils help in enhancing the blood circulation. Essential oils may also be inhaled directly from a vaporizer or any simple bottle to help in clearing blocked air passages or just to unwind.

Can You Ingest Essential Oils?

Taking essential oils orally can cause health problems. Learn the safety requirements of ingesting these concentrated plant extracts.

I see it frequently in social media images: Just add X drops of Y essential oil to a tall glass of water and drink. I see it on advice columns with lines such as “boost your health” or “prevent cancer.” Unfortunately, taking this kind of advice could potentially make you quite ill.

Essential oils are highly concentrated volatile compounds extracted from whole or parts of plants—tree resins, flowering shrubs, peels of citrus fruits, seeds, grasses and so forth. A distiller may use hundreds of pounds of plant material and get only a pound of essential oil in return. For example, in the case of rose essential oil, it takes approximately 50 roses to make a single drop of essential oil. It can take 2,000 pounds of plant material from the cypress tree to get a single pound of the essential oil.

At these levels of concentration, a single drop in a glass of water could be the equivalent of drinking boxes of tea made from the same herb. Would you casually drink 50 bags of a herbal tea in a day? Of course, you wouldn’t. So, why would you drink a drop of the essential oil without express direction from a medical professional?

Water and Essential Oils Don’t Mix

Another problem with the advice to drink a drop of essential oil diluted in a glass of water is that this is a bad way to deliver essential oils to the body. It can be harmful to the tissues of the mouth and throat. Essential oils don’t mix in water; they need a dispersant. When I’m using them in the bath, I mix them in a dispersant such as milk, sea salt or a carrier oil first so they aren’t floating on the top of the water and irritating that oh-so-sensitive skin when I sit down. I might use a shot glass of milk or a few tablespoons of sea salts, but I don’t climb into the bath without dispersing the oils first.

When you add a drop to a glass of water, that droplet doesn’t mingle with the water like a drop of a herbal tincture would. It sits there, and you sling that glass back and take a big gulp. The first signs of distress from this method are irritations to the mouth and throat. They can be damaged by this concentrated plant oil, and repeated exposure exacerbates the situation. After a while other foods that don’t normally bother you may start to sting or burn in the mouth or throat. If you keep it up long enough, you risk becoming sensitized to the chemical components in the essential oil—then when you come into contact with ingredients that share one of those components you might break out in hives or trigger a migraine.

Is there any safe way to take essential oils by mouth?

You may be wondering if it is ever safe to ingest essential oils. And the answer is that yes, it can be advisable, but only under the care of a trained medical professional. The trick is to have a digestible transport to get it from the mouth and into the digestive system so it can be taken up into the bloodstream. Some clinical aromatherapists, as well as a few nurses and doctors, have received this advanced training. Factors that come into play include metabolism, contraindications, known allergens, medications and the nature of the illness in question. Essential oils aren’t to be consumed as a kind of daily multivitamin. Instead, these powerful plant oils are used internally to rid the body of parasites or worms, or in cases of bacterial and viral infections. They’re also called upon when antibiotic-resistant infections can’t be controlled.

Resist Marketing Schemes

Knowing that essential oils should only be ingested for specific maladies on the advice of a trained medical professional, you might be wondering how people can so easily become confused about whether to drink essential oils diluted in a glass of water. Some laypeople who sell essential oils advise taking essential oils internally and their suggestions can get a lot of traction on social media sites such as Pinterest and Facebook.

Let’s say you have an unopened 1⁄2-ounce bottle of lavender essential oil in your home right now. That bottle contains about 300 drops of essential oil. If you store it in a cool, dark space you can anticipate that this bottle will have a shelf life of around five years: 60 drops per year. With those 60 drops, you could have a monthly aromatic bath all year long, or make four 1-ounce massage oil blends.

But if you’re putting one drop in a glass of water every day, my thinking is that you’re a cash cow client. You might be told to ramp up your routine and do two drops, or three. You could go through two bottles of lavender essential oil before a year is up at that rate. That spells big money.

What’s a Good Alternative?

If drinking essential oils are sounding less and less like a good idea, perhaps you’re wondering about potential alternatives. Some of my favorite water additives are likely sitting in your fridge right now. Fresh herbs such as peppermint and lavender, and fresh fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, peach, and lime can be placed into a pitcher of water and left to sit for a few minutes, an hour or overnight for flavoring and to support a wellness goal. Herbal teas can be prepared both hot or cold and are much gentler on the body. As for using essential oils, the quickest way to the bloodstream is through direct inhalation: Put a drop or two of the essential oils on a cotton ball and hold it close to the nostrils while taking a deep breath. You can also use essential oils on the skin: Dilute one drop in a teaspoon of carrier oil (such as coconut or grapeseed oil) to aid absorption and reduce the risk of skin irritation.

Clinical Observations

Taking essential oils orally without consulting a medical professional can tax the liver and damage mucous membranes.

About once a month, I see a client complaining of right-side abdominal pain, lethargy, joint pain, and indigestion. At some point, they mention they’ve been adding essential oils to their drinking water because their neighbor said it would make their water taste better or help them lose weight (or cure Ebola). I try to restrain my initial alarm and calmly explain that essential oils and water don’t mix, literally and that the oils are effective mucous membrane irritants.

In some cases, the client gets a liver panel. Typically, we discover that the liver isn’t happy with this intense routine and the doctor advises her to discontinue use. Sometimes the damage is permanent—vocal chords aren’t what they used to be, or there’s damage to the esophagus or stomach. The liver is usually pretty capable of self-healing, and once the poison is removed, liver enzymes normalize, the abdominal pain disappears and energy levels perk up again. The mystery joint pain and other weird symptoms ease and disappear, too.

For reasons I can only deduce as marketing gimmicks, a couple of companies have been putting nutrition fact labels on their essential oils as if a product roughly 100 times concentrated should casually be used as a nutrition supplement. Essential oils have no vitamin or mineral content, zero nutrition content, and should be considered a drug when used orally. The FDA sent strongly worded letters to two such companies that market essential oils as dietary supplements while using drug claims.

The French use essential oils in enteric-coated pills to treat mild to moderate depression and irritable bowel syndrome. If you lived in France, your psychiatrist or doctor could prescribe an aromatic medicine for you and you’d fill the prescription down at the pharmacy. A doctor to whom I refer clients prescribes oral essential oils for parasitical infections such as amoebas, Lyme disease or for other infections such as antibiotic-resistant staph (MRSA). So yes, sometimes essential oils are used orally as medications—but under close observation, because they can easily turn into a poison with the wrong route of absorption or the wrong dosage.

Can you overdose on an essential oil? Absolutely. And sometimes that dose is very small, less than 1 teaspoon for some.

Learn More

To learn more about the safety of using essential oils, consult these resources.

“Are Essential Oils Safe?” from the University of Minnesota

Internal Use Statement from the Alliance of International Aromatherapists

Essential Oil Safety Information

“Aromatherapy Undiluted—Safety and Ethics”

Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand & Rodney Young

Clinical Aromatherapy by Jane Buckle

Handbook of Essential Oils by K. Hüsnü Can Başer & Gerhard Buchbauer

Aromatherapy for Health Professionals by Shirley Price & Len Price

PROBLEMS WITH USING ESSENTIAL OILS LIKE DRUGS

The rise in “makeover your medicine cabinet” approaches to using essential oils presents three key problems:

  1. It is the least effective way to therapeutically use essential oils.
  2. It does not address the root problem.
  3. It is illegal in the United States.

To best understand the problems we must first look at how this all got started…

A Brief History of Botanical Medicine

Humans have been employing the use of botanicals, or plants, to support and restore health for some 50,000 years. Or, you could probably say botanicals have been used as long as humans have been on the planet.  Botanical medicine has a 5,000 year written history based on the energetics of the person and the plant. You see, humans have been treating the individual long before they fully understood anatomy, physiology, and states of disease.

When the shift began in the last century to do away with this model of healing and instead treat disease and illness, the lay-person lost a valuable resource for wellness care. Prevention was tossed to the wind and we lost sight of taking care of ourselves based on our energetic makeup. And if you look around, we’re really rather suffering from the lack of wellness-based medicine in our lives and our communities, aren’t we? I certainly think so.

Botanical Medicine is Holistic at its Core

If you had an appointment today with an Ayurvedic practitioner, a Chinese medicine practitioner, a herbalist, or myself, you wouldn’t be treated for your high blood pressure, your osteoarthritis, or your migraines. While all of these symptoms are important and will be considered by the practitioner as part of a whole you’ll really be treated based on your energetic constitution and the symptoms will be viewed as clues to what’s really going on.

How do you experience the world? Are you a fire constitution expressing too much heat through chronically inflamed joints? Are you an air constitution expressing too much wind that leaves you mentally spacey during the day and with troubling insomnia at night? Has damp or dry energy patterns tipped the scales for your constitution?

Any constitution can experience similar symptoms but getting to the root of the cause takes some asking, listening, and observing (hence my 5 pages of questions on my intake form!). A fire type and an air type can both have knee pain but their origins are very different and their treatment plans should be different as well.

Replacing Drugs with Essential Oils

So you want a natural solution for [insert health complaint here]. After being steeped in treating disease states instead of the person for the past hundred years your first thought isn’t going to be: “I’ll use this essential oil because it has this energetic aspect that my body needs for balance.” Nope. You’re going to look at what western medicine would classify the essential oil for.

Let’s say you’ve got a sinus headache. It’s allergy season here in Southeastern Utah and between the mold and the plant pollens, a lot of folks are really suffering. What would be your first choice for that sinus headache from your essential oil kit? If you looked just at the chemistry you might choose, say, Peppermint. It’s rich in terpenic alcohols (aka monoterpenols) and right there on the monograph, it says “decongestant,” that’d be just the thing!

But wait, that’s only part of the story of peppermint essential oil. Peppermint’s energetics give us deeper clues as to who should be utilizing this essential oil. It’s in the pungent family (TCM, Ayurveda, AGM) and likes to move and circulate energy in the body. It’s also classified as a Yin botanical with cooling properties. So, who needs these properties? Someone with a hot and Yang temperament, yes? Aha! What if your constitution tends toward cold though? What if your dominant dosha is Vata? What if it’s a Yin and cold season and the last thing you want is to amplify that temperature in yourself? Oh, then this isn’t the right essential oil for you at all. In fact, it might exacerbate your constitution and you’ll only feel worse. Well, that’s not the relief you were looking for.

If you choose an essential oil like a drug: this essential oil for this acute health problem; the worse that happens is you feel worse, or it doesn’t work. While unpleasant, or disappointing, it isn’t necessarily life-threatening if you’re working within safe dosing guidelines. What is potentially life-threatening is when essential oils are bought and sold to advanced disease states like cancer, high blood pressure, or an autoimmune condition. There aren’t any essential oils that will replace chemotherapy, blood pressure medication, or treat multiple sclerosis. Not that these disease states cannot be improved by treating the individual, it’s just that essential oils aren’t drugs. What happens if you follow the bad advice of taking Frankincense essential oil for cancer? If you take enough to wipe out cancer it will be too poisonous a dose for your eliminatory organs to handle and you’ll go into organ failure and die. If you don’t take enough, it will likely protect the cancer cells giving them the opportunity to continue to grow and spread, and if you’re in chemotherapy at the same time it will make the chemo harder to do its job.

Essential Oils Cannot Legally be Sold or Recommended as Drugs

So, if death or worsening of a condition isn’t an indication enough that essential oils aren’t drugs and shouldn’t be used to treat from a western medicine perspective there’s the fact that it is completely illegal for essential oils to be recommended and sold as drugs in the United States. The branches of U.S. government, designed to protect consumers and the field of medicine, have created specific laws around this.

In the United States a sales representative (product rep/consultant), an employee at Whole Foods, your aromatherapist, your herbalist, or your aromatic therapies practitioner, cannot:

  • treat medical conditions – headaches, cancer, cold/flu
  • prescribe, recommend or suggest essential oils, herbs, or nutritional supplements for medical conditions
  • diagnose medical conditions

…unless they are licensed in their State to practice and prescribe medicine.

Why this is Great for You and Me

Making it illegal to use essential oils as drugs is a rather good thing for both you and me. Firstly, it protects you, the consumer, from snake oil sales folks that want to sell you a product for your medical condition. There’s no reason an untrained, unlicensed person should be practicing or prescribing medicine. Okay, we could probably argue the benefits of emergency medicine in the event of the zombie apocalypse.

It’s also great for me, as an aromatherapist, that I don’t have to practice medicine. Or prescribe medicine. I didn’t go to medical school and I have zero interest in practicing western medicine. My CPR training card doesn’t give me any authority to treat your medical condition any more than your neighbor licensed in plumbing does.

I can treat you as the wonderfully holistic person that you are – with your unique way of absorbing and expressing this beautiful life. And that’s why I’ve spent 19 years studying holistic medicine! I love tapping into the body’s own innate healing abilities by gently nudging it towards homeostasis, that balanced state it thrives in and strives for.

Eastern and Western Medicine Synergy

In closing, I want to talk about the benefits of combining modern and ancient medicine models in the practice of aromatherapy.

Eastern aromatherapy looks at the energetics of the person and the essential oil and prepares a treatment plan based on supporting the constitution of the individual. Be it grounded in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Ancient Greek Medicine, or another system, it always supports the person, not the allopathic disease state.

Western aromatherapy closely analyzes and studies the chemistry of the essential oil. This information gives us the biophysical action of the essential oil, dosing parameters, and safety information like contraindications and cautions. Then it looks at the scientific study of the human body: anatomy and physiology (A&P). A&P gives us guidance on routes of absorption, how the chemistry of the essential oil travels in the body when we smell it, when we apply it to the skin, when we use it internally, and the best methods to accomplish each of these routes for the highest therapeutic effect.

Each area gives us one half of the story, and when combined we have a holistic, modern, wellness tool that is powerful, safe, and very effective. Toss in a healthy diet, loving movement of your body, and we could quite possibly change the world with aromatherapy!

PROBLEMS WITH SELLING ESSENTIAL OILS LIKE DRUGS

This article is focusing on the problems with selling essential oils like drugs.

Some of the key problems are:

  1. Essential oils aren’t approved as drugs in the United States.
  2. A prescription is required by a medical professional licensed to prescribe medicine in his/her State.
  3. A license to practice as a pharmacist and control a pharmacy is required.

To first understand the problems we need to look at some of the ways essential oils are regulated in the United States.

Classification of Essential Oils

fdaEssential oils are regulated by the following federal agencies:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Fish and Wildlife departments
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

The federal government doesn’t recognize essential oils as their own class of consumer products. Instead, the category an essential oil falls under is based on:

  1. the words you & the manufacturer use to market the essential oil – referred to as “claims” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  2. the perception of how the essential oil is to be used by the consumer.

An essential oil might be sold under one of these categories:

  • cosmetic
  • dietary supplement
  • approved drug
  • GRAS flavoring
  • soap
  • air freshener or household cleaner

As much as we love our all-in-one bottles of essential oils the federal agencies don’t. Accordingly, you can’t market the same bottle for multiple categories. It’s a pick one or none kind of deal. If an essential oil is sold as a cosmetic (topical use product) it cannot make structure/function claims. If an essential oil is sold with structure/function claims (supports the natural functioning of the respiratory/digestive system) it is classified as a dietary supplement and can be sold in pre-formulated capsules to be taken by mouth or in a dietary supplement bar clearly labeled not a food. If an essential oil is sold as a food and beverage flavoring ingredient it can only be used according to GRAS dilution standards to appear in products around 100-1000 parts per million. If an essential oil is sold as an over-the-counter drug it must be formulated according to the FDA’s monograph. If an essential oil is sold as an approved (new or old) drug it is sold by prescription by a licensed pharmacist in a licensed pharmacy that meets federal regulations for formulations and dosing.

Please note I am not covering livestock and veterinarian use of essential oil sales as that is not an area I have researched nor do I have a great deal of interest in.

Cosmetics are a classification of essential oils intended for use on the skin and body. And yes, as I’ve pointed out above, a cosmetic product cannot also be a dietary supplement and vice versa.

“articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)].

Dietary supplement is a classification of essential oil constituents intended for use in the body. A good example of a product on the market that meets DSHEA guidelines and employs a C02 extraction of cinnamon is New Chapter brand’s Cinnamon Force alongside the alcohol extraction of the herb cinnamon. Remember, an essential oil cannot be sold as both a dietary supplement and a cosmetic – the same bottle cannot be sold for skin use.

Congress defined the term “dietary supplement” in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet.

GRAS flavoring is a classification of essential oils that are intended to flavor foods and beverages. There’s a good bit of confusion around GRAS and essential oils – namely that GRAS doesn’t mean it is a dietary supplement and that the FFDCA has guidelines for essential oils used in flavoring foods and beverages that generally range somewhere between 10-1000 parts per million in a finished product. To get a better idea of what this looks like I recommend you read my article: Essential Oils and GRAS: What it really means.

“GRAS” is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe. Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive. For example, substances whose use meets the definition of a pesticide, a dietary ingredient of a dietary supplement, a color additive, a new animal drug, or a substance approved for such use prior to September 6, 1958, are excluded from the definition of food additive.

Essential oils can also be sold in soaps, in perfumes (under the cosmetics guidelines), as air fresheners (regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission), and of course in OTC and new drugs. Just keep in mind that soaps, perfumes, air fresheners, diffuser blends can’t be sold with cosmetic, drug, or dietary supplement claims (i.e. you can’t sell a diffuser blend for immune support during cold and flu season).

Why we can’t sell essential oils as drugs

If you want to sell essential oils as drugs there are a few legal hurdles in your pathway:

  • State licensure as a pharmacy facility and as a pharmacist
  • Compliance with current good manufacturing practices (CGMP)
  • Labeling with adequate directions for use
  • FDA approval prior to marketing
  • A prescription from a medical professional with a current license to prescribe

Some folks are not prepared to go to pharmacy school to sell Lavender essential oil for headaches or a cold-flu essential oil blend. Not to mention getting essential oils approved as drugs (hundreds of thousands of dollars), and have you even priced liability insurance to work as a pharmacist in this litigious country? Yeesh!

Ways you can’t sell essential oils

Again, a disclaimer that I am not your legal adviser but am offering information based on consulting with no fewer than 7 licensed attorneys in 4 states and that I rather devour regulatory websites like romance novels, this is what it boils down to:

Ways you can’t sell a bottle of Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense, or other essential oil:

  • You can’t make disease/condition claims without a license to practice medicine, prior approval from the FDA as a drug, a pharmacy license, and a prescription from a medical professional with a license to prescribe (since you can’t treat medical conditions, prescribe, and fill prescriptions all under the same roof). Disease/condition claims would include terms like headaches, cold/flu, cancer, high blood pressure.
  • You can’t make drug claims without prior approval from the FDA, a pharmacy license, and a prescription from a medical professional with a license to prescribe. Drug claim examples would include terms like analgesic, expectorant, antispasmodic, antimicrobial.
  • You can’t sell a bottle of essential oil with structure/function claims if it is to be applied to the outside of the body or inhaled unless you follow the guidelines of manufacturing an over the counter drug and then you wouldn’t have a bottle of essential oil anymore you’d have a topical OTC drug.

Further thoughts on ‘relaxation’ and structure-function claims

To sell Lavender essential oil with a claim of “relaxation” it must be in the form of a dietary supplement. Not a raw ingredient like a bottle of essential oil but readily available in a product that will go into the consumer’s mouth. Leaving the consumer to manage dosing and dose forms on their own is fraught with problems, namely:

  • dosing is based on the chemistry of the essential oil to determine the level of “active” ingredients in the form of specific chemical constituents.
  • dosing is measured in milligrams and based on the weight of the average adult consumer.
  • capsule selection is based on whether the capsule should dissolve in the stomach acid or in the lower bowels.

None of these is left to the consumer to guess at. And in the end you don’t have a bottle of Lavender essential oil, you have a carefully formulated bottle of encapsulated essential oil. You still have to follow current known safety guidelines, observe laws related to manufacturing, labeling, and advertising, as well as report back to the FDA adverse events consumers have experienced.

I think it is important to remember that encapsulating an essential oil doesn’t reduce potential toxicity with regards to:

  • Teratogenicity – the capability to cause malformations or defects to an embryo or fetus.
  • Hepatotoxicity – the capability to cause toxicity in the liver.
  • Nephrotoxicity – the capability to cause toxicity in the kidneys.
  • Carcinogenicity – the capability to cause cancer through the damage of genome or the disruption of cellular metabolic processes.

The responsibility to make every effort to avoid poisoning the general population through careful regard for dosing (amount and length of use) and delivery systems is on the company’s shoulders. Think companies aren’t responsible for this? Head on over to the U.S. Department of Justice and see for yourself what kind of hot water you can get into when you combine greed, unsafe ingredients, and not following labeling laws. Scrutiny in the dietary supplements industry has skyrocketed in the past few years as consumers are reporting more adverse reactions, raw ingredients are being adulterated or contaminated, and companies are not following federal and state laws when manufacturing products for consumers.

Will we lose access to essential oils in America?

There is a concern felt in many branches of the essential oil and aromatic therapies industry that we may lose access to essential oils if they continue to be sold as unapproved drugs. If essential oils are deemed too dangerous because people are drinking them in water and recommending their use for ebola would it surprise any of us that the FDA pulls them all off the market?

We have this amazing wellness tool and it would break my heart if we lost access to it. Not simply because my livelihood revolves around access to essential oils in my practice, aromatherapy but because they do play a role in my personal wellness care.

How do you sell essential oils in the United States?

So, dear reader;  If you need a space to commiserate on the challenges of retailing essential oils here I’m totally cool with that. I do respectfully ask that you don’t use the comments section to complain that essential oils should be legal to sell as drugs, or that so-and-so or such-and-such company is violating X number of federal laws, or to get on your soapbox about big pharma or government agencies or conspiracy theories. I appreciate your thoughtful replies and look forward to hearing from you!

A Natural Antibiotic: Thyme Oil

Superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus {MRSA} are on the rise and, unfortunately, are becoming resistant to the drugs used to treat them. When faced with a microbial infection, using natural antibacterial agents may not only be more effective but also safe and risk-free.

Apart from using spices like garlic, I recommend you try essential oils derived from herbs like thyme oil. Not only do they have antibacterial properties, but they also provide a number of health benefits. Before I go into thyme oil’s antimicrobial functions, let me share some information on the essential oil.

thyme oil

What Is Thyme Oil?

Oil of thyme is derived from thyme, also known as Thymus vulgaris. The perennial herb, a member of the mint family, is used in aromatherapy, cooking, potpourri, mouthwashes, and elixirs, as well as added to ointments. Thyme also has a number of medicinal properties, which is due to the herb’s essential oils.

The benefits of thyme essential oil have been recognized for thousands of years in Mediterranean countries. This substance is also a common agent in Ayurveda practice. Today, among the many producers of thyme oil, France, Morocco, and Spain emerge as the primary ones.

Uses of Thyme Oil

Due to thyme oil’s antibacterial, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant, hypertensive, and calming properties, it has a long list of uses that include:

  • Home remedy – Thyme oil is used to relieve and treat problems like gout, arthritis, wounds, bites, and sores, water retention, menstrual and menopausal problems, nausea and fatigue, respiratory problems (like colds), skin conditions (oily skin and scars), athlete’s foot, hangovers, and even depression.
  • Aromatherapy oil – The oil can be used to stimulate the mind, strengthen memory and concentration, and calm the nerves.
  • Hair product – It is said that thyme oil can prevent hair loss. It is used as a treatment for the scalp and is added to shampoos and other hair products.
  • Skin product – Thyme oil can help tone aged skin and prevent acne outbreaks.
  • Mouthwashes and herbal rinses – Like peppermint, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oil, thyme oil is used to improve oral health.
  • Insecticide/insect repellent – Thyme oil can keep insects and parasites like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and moths away.

The Composition of Thyme Oil

Thyme is an example of a herb with over 300 varieties and various chemotypes, which are plants with the same appearance but have different chemical compositions. Each chemotype yields different oils with corresponding therapeutic benefits. This occurs when the plant is grown in different environments, climates, and soil.

Depending on which chemotype it is derived from, the oil of thyme produced will have a distinct chemical structure. The known chemotypes are:

  • Thymus vulgaris thymolThis chemotype has strong antiseptic activities and is 60 to 70 percent thymol. It goes by the name of “thyme” and “red thyme,” and is harvested during the fall.
  • Thymus vulgaris linalool This is the most gentle of all thyme chemotypes. Referred to as “garden thyme,” this variation has potent antiparasitic and antifungal properties and is grown at high altitudes.
  • Thymus vulgaris carvacrol– As its name suggests, this type contains the chemical constituent carvacrol. Its amount will depend on when it is harvested. When collected in the spring, it will contain 30 percent carvacrol, and 60 to 80 percent when harvested right after flowering or during the fall. T. Vulgaris carvacrol is known for its antiseptic properties.
  • Thymus vulgaris thujanol– Found only in the wild, this plant contains 50 percent thuja oil and is known for its beneficial effects on the immune system and hormones. It is often called “sweet thyme.”
  • Thymus vulgaris alphaterpineolThis type is harvested during the early spring and has a pepper-like smell.
  • Thymus vulgaris geraniol ­– The geraniol chemotype has a lemon-like fragrance and is grown at high altitudes. It is often picked during autumn.
  • Thymus vulgaris 1,8 cineole – This contains 80 to 90 percent cineole and has diuretic, anticatarrhal, expectorant, and analgesic properties.
  • Thymus vulgaris p-cymene– This should be obtained from spring or else it becomes a different chemotype.
  • Thymus vulgaris phenol­– These are thyme plants that grow at high altitudes and contain up to 90 percent of phenol compounds.

Benefits of Thyme Oil

As I previously mentioned, thyme oil is an effective natural agent against nasty bacterial strains. A study presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s spring conference in Edinburgh pointed out that essential oils may be efficient and affordable alternatives to antibiotics in the battle against resistant bacteria.

Among the essential oils tested, cinnamon oil and thyme oil were found to be the most successful against various Staphylococcus species, including the dreaded MRSA.  Researchers said that this can help lower antibiotic use and minimize the formation of new resistant strains of microorganisms.

Oil of thyme can also function as a decontaminate for food products. As shown in Food Microbiology, both basil and thyme essential oils exhibited antimicrobial properties against Shigella sonnei and Shigella flexneri that may contaminate food. The compounds thymol and carvacrol in thyme oil demonstrated this benefit.

Furthermore, thyme oil can be used as a preservative against spoilage and several foodborne germs that can contribute to health problems. It is effective against other forms of bacteria like Salmonella, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas species.

Other reports also show that oil of thyme has anti-inflammatory properties. In a research published in the Journal of Lipid Research, six essential oils including thyme oil showed the ability to suppress the inflammatory cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme in the same manner as the antioxidant resveratrol does. It was noted that the chemical constituent carvacrol was responsible for this effect.

The same study also noted that thyme and the other essential oils activated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), which help suppress COX-2 expression.

In addition to these, significant health benefits of thyme oil include:

  • Help reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Stimulates menstrual flow
  • Increases circulation and elevates low blood pressure
  • Triggers the removal of waste that may lead to cellulite
  • Eases nervousness and anxiety
  • Helps fight insomnia
  • Eliminates bad breath and body odor

How to Make Thyme Oil

Thyme essential oil is produced through the steam distillation of the fresh or partially dried leaves and flowers of the thyme plant. Distillation produces a red-, browns, or orange-colored thyme oil, which has a strong, spicy smell. Further distillation yields white thyme oil, a clear or pale yellow oil with a mild fragrance. As mentioned before, its chemical composition varies depending on the type of thyme used in production.

Fortunately, you can make infused thyme oil at home. Here’s is one guide you can use.

What You Need:

  • ½ cup fresh thyme
  • 8 ounces carrier oil (ex. olive oil)
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Saucepan
  • Funnel
  • Glass container

Procedure:

  • Wash the herbs and dry it by patting it with a clean cloth. You may also dry it in the sun or place it in a salad spinner.
  • Crush the herbs using the mortar and pestle to release their natural oils.
  • Place the crushed thyme and its oil into the saucepan, and place the carrier oil. Simmer this mixture over medium heat for at least five minutes or until it produces bubbles.
  • Turn the heat off and allow the mixture to cool. Pour the mixture into the glass container then store in a cool place.

How Does Thyme Oil Work?

Thyme oil can be used in a number of ways. It can be inhaled, applied topically, or used as a mouthwash. Below are some particular ways to enjoy its benefits:

  • Relieve pain – Mix three drops of thyme oil with two teaspoons of sesame oil. Use this mixture as a massage oil and apply on the abdominal area to relieve pain. This may also be used as a massage oil to treat other types of pain.
  • Alleviate fatigue – Add two drops of thyme oil to your bath water.
  • Improve sleep – Add a few drops to your diffuser.
  • Promote oral health – Use thyme oil as a mouthwash by adding one drop to a cup of warm water.
  • Reduce the appearance of scars and skin marks – Apply oil of thyme mixed with any carrier oil (like almond oil) on the affected area.
  • Use as a cleanser – Add a few drops of thyme oil to your facial wash.
  • Treat or protect against respiratory problems – Add two drops of thyme oil to hot water and use for steam inhalation.
  • Uplift mood – Simply inhale the scent of thyme oil.

Is Thyme Oil Safe?

Thyme oil should not be used directly on the skin, as it can cause sensitization. It must be first diluted with a carrier oil (like olive oil or almond oil). Before use, test on a small area to see if you have any allergies.

This herbal oil should not be taken internally, as it can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle problems. Doing so may also negatively impact your heart, lungs, and body temperature. It may also stimulate the thyroid gland, which is why this essential oil is not recommended for people with hyperthyroidism.

Since thyme oil can be used to increase circulation, it should be avoided by people with high blood pressure. Pregnant women should steer clear of thyme oil because it can stimulate menstrual flow. Thyme oil should also be kept away from infants and young children because they are sensitive.

Thyme Oil Side Effects

Use of thyme oil may result in allergic reactions, even when it’s diluted. Some people who use it may experience dermatitis or inflammation of the skin. People with allergies to rosemary or mint oils should also stay away from thyme and its essential oil.

Always consult a physician or anyone knowledgeable in essential oils before using one, especially if you’re suffering from any disease or are taking certain medications.