How Essential Oils Can Improve Your Health and Wellbeing
Essential oils have a long history when it comes to wellbeing and has been used for a wide range of health problems. They’re not just for “hippies” as my spouse likes to tell me. Many oils have specific properties that make them great choices for treating specific health, but their effects can go far beyond this.
Want a bit of proof beyond just my word? I don’t normally put an emphasis on research and scientific facts in my blogs, but when it comes to essential oils many people feel more comfortable with some research behind the statements. So, I’ll deviate from my usual style and give you some data😉.
Research has shown that the limbic system in your brain (which controls memory and emotions) can be acted on by scents to affect the whole body. A 2002 study from Japan confirmed that some oils can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system while others can promote calmness.
With that in mind, let’s talk about exactly how essential oils can help you to take control of your wellbeing.
Essential Oils and Immunity
Lots of essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Thank goodness because my kids are mega germ factories! Tea tree is probably one of the most well-known of these, but there’s also lemon oil.
Essential oils that contain sesquiterpenes (there’s that scientific jargon again …) can encourage oxygen to tissues and create a more hostile environment for viruses and bacteria to survive in. Cedarwood, vetiver, sandalwood, ginger, myrrh and frankincense are just a few examples of essential oils that fall into this category.
Essential Oils and Relaxation
One of the most common reasons why many people try out essential oils involves relaxation. This is how I got started (and those of you with kids will understand the need for a bit more assistance in the relaxation department)! Lavender is often a go-to oil for this reason and has been proven in studies to have a calming and relaxing effect (and bonus it’s really affordable!)
Rose oil is another essential oil that can help you to feel more relaxed (but this one is quite expensive). In a Japanese study, it led to a 30% decrease in adrenaline and a 40% decrease in activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.
Valerian oil is an essential oil that you may not be familiar with. This is often included in teas and supplements that aim to get you to sleep better due to its calming qualities as an herb so it’s no great surprise that the oil does the trick too. According to studies, valerian oil can help you to fall asleep more quickly and for longer. That’s some serious relaxation power!
If restless legs are a factor in keeping you awake at night, cedarwood could help. In studies, it’s been shown to reduce autonomic motor activity. Sandalwood is another essential oil that depresses the nervous system, which helps to relax the body.
Essential Oils and Sleep
If you’re struggling to drift off into a natural sleep most nights and you often wake up in the night, choosing the right essential oil could be a game changer for getting deeper and longer sleep (um, yes please! Sign me up!)
The essential oils that promote relaxation all help here, but lavender and chamomile oils are great choices.
Cedarwood can help to reduce autonomic motor activity, which is great news for anyone who suffers from Restless Leg Syndrome at night.
Sandalwood is another essential oil that can suppress activity of the nervous system, which helps with better sleep. In studies on rats, it has led to less time awake at night and more deep sleep. Similar studies on humans have had come to the same type of conclusions so it seems like a great choice if you’re someone who wakes up a lot in the night and struggles with disturbed sleep. I also like to use Vetiver which is sometimes considered natures tranquilizer (without the morning after hangover effect)!
Essential Oils and Pain Relief
When it comes to chronic pain, you could do a lot worse than reach for some essential oils. There are quite a few to choose from so a lot will depend on what is causing your pain.
A few options include:
Chamomile oil can ease pain from a range of problems, including stiff and painful joints and muscles, headaches, nerve pain and digestive issues. A lot of this is due to its anti-inflammatory qualities.
Ginger oil is another essential oil that has impressive anti-inflammatory benefits, and this can work well for people with arthritis. In one study, ginger oil was effective in easing pain and stiffness in older people with chronic knee pain. Another study found that ginger oil worked well for 75% of people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
For headaches and migraines, lavender is also a great bet. Peppermint oil has been shown in studies to be as effective as paracetamol for treating tension headaches and is also a smart choice for IBS symptoms.
Caution: Just be careful about diluting this oil, especially on your face – because if you get peppermint oil near your eyes trust me this is not an experience you want to have! Wash your hands thoroughly before doing anything else (and make sure if you wear contacts that you deal with your lenses before doing anything with peppermint oil).
In studies, lavender has also helped to reduce lower back pain by almost 40% as part of acupressure treatment.
Thyme is a super effective essential oil for tackling different types of pain. From backache to joint inflammation, this oil is a great multi tasker to keep around the home ready for when pain strikes.
Eucalyptus oil is very effective at tackling sinus pain. Definitely, one to keep on hand in case you come down with a cold or suffer from blocked sinuses (paired with peppermint oil it’s the dynamic duo).
Toothache can be eased by clove or sweet marjoram oils, and the latter can also work well for easing chronic neck pain.
As you can see, essential oils can play a super important role in helping you to stay healthy and happy! There’s so much more to learn. If you’re interested in getting started with essential oils click here to book a time to chat with me!
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