In this article you'll find:
- What are Essential Oils
- How do Essential Oils work?
- What are Essential Oils used for?
- Top 10 Essential Oils to try in 2022
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are getting a lot of attention at the moment, with many people utilising them in daily life to support their wellbeing.
Essential oils are complex aromatic compounds extracted by various methods from plants, and are in simple terms the concentrated ‘scent’ of that particular flower, leaf, gum, seed or root. For thousands of years they’ve been extracted and used in skincare products, massage oils, for aromatherapy, and in perfume.
The oils are usually volatile (they evaporate easily) unless they contain lots of resins or gums - and contain chemical compounds from plants. They’re extracted by:
- Steam distillation – hot steam is passed through the plant matter which breaks open the cells of the plant, releasing the oils. These oils are collected along with the steam, which separates when cooled to form essential oils and hydrosols.
- Expression – usually for citrus peels which are pressed and squeezed to collect the oils.
- CO2 extraction – Carbon dioxide is pressurised and becomes liquid, which is pumped into a chamber filled with plant material and pulls the substances from the plant matter. When the pressure is reduced, the CO2 evaporates back to a gas, leaving the essential oil behind.
Essential oils are called essential oils because it’s thought that their expression captures the plant’s pure essence. Essential oils are the most concentrated part of a plant. They can be used diluted on the skin in carrier oils such as jojoba or wheatgerm or diffused into the air in specialised aromatherapy devices such as diffusers, vapourisers or burners.
How do essential oils work?
When essential oils are inhaled, the tiny chemical constituents trigger the nerve cells in our nose that are directly connected to our brain. This can result in a stimulation or an inhibition trigger for various part of the brain, supporting mood and hormonal responses. Certain smells can also remind us of memories from long ago.
What are essential oils used for?
Essential oils are used for multiple things:
- To support a positive atmosphere at home. Essential oils can be diffused on their own or in a blend. Essential oils can be uplifting or calming so can be specifically chosen to support you to get up and go in the morning or calm down in the evening.
- When diluted with carrier oils, essential oils can be used to support circulation and relaxation during a massage. In a bath when mixed with a pump of body wash, essential oils can revive and restore tense muscles and a stressed mind.
- In skincare to provide a natural fragrance and supportive qualities to skin cells.
Let’s take a closer look at ten of our top picks from the 100s of essential oils on the market today.
Top 10 Essential Oils to try in 2022
1. Mānuka Essential Oil for immune support
Mānuka ( Leptospermum scoparium) is an oil that is indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand, which has supportive constituents for immune support. Mānuka is similar in scent and nature to Australian tea tree oil, but with a softer and more rounded fragrance that is calming during times of stress. Sourced from around Aotearoa, it is used often in products for supporting the appearance of acne and easing skin irritations. It can be used as a household cleaner for its powerful antiseptic properties.
Use Mānuka for skin health, wounds, and for supporting the immune system.
2. Sweet Orange Essential Oil for relaxation
Derived from the peel of Citrus sinensis, sweet orange oil provides an uplifting and warming scent that can support during times of stress. Providing a positive environment when used in a vaporiser - or in a relaxing bath when combined with Epsom Salts, sweet orange oil is suitable for the whole family.
Use sweet orange oil to provide a warming, positive environment, and relaxation during time of stress.
3. Lavender Essential Oil for restful sleep
One of the world’s most popular essential oils, lavender ( Lavendula augustifolia) is renowned for its relaxation properties in aromatherapy. Utilised in everything from perfumes to skincare, cleaning products, air fresheners and more, there are many potential uses for this soothing oil. Lavender oil is featured in products aimed at children, due to its gentleness.
Use lavender oil for soothing the body and mind. A wonderful oil to use in a massage or in the bath during times of stress to ease tension. Lavender essential oil can be diffused in the evening to support a good night-time routine and restful sleep.
4. Rose Essential Oil for balancing hormones
One of the most legendary flowers in history, roses have long been grown for their evocative and enticing perfume. Used widely in perfumes and in skincare for supporting dry and aging skin, rose oil (Rosa damascena) provides a luxurious experience, lifts the spirit, and gives the heart joy.
Rose essential oil, known as the Queen of flowers, is used in aromatherapy for its calming, soothing, and comforting properties. It usually comes combined with jojoba oil due to the expense of attaining the oil (it takes about 30 rose flowers to make 1 drop of oil!). The dilution also means it can be applied topically when purchased as Rose: 3% in Jojoba.
Use Rose oil for supporting the mood, during or after times of stress when seeking comforting, and to support balanced hormones.
5. Ginger Essential Oil for digestive discomfort
We are familiar with Ginger root ( Zingiber officinale) being used as a delicious warming spice in meals, and the essential oil has similar warming properties. Supportive of strong digestion when diffused around mealtimes, or when used regularly for massage around the abdomen. Also supportive of good circulation and healthy joints, ginger essential oil can be massaged into skin daily to support comfort, mobility, and function.
Use ginger essential oil for good digestive function, and topically for healthy veins and circulation.
6. Peppermint Essential Oil for clarity and focus
Peppermint essential oil ( Mentha piperita) has been used for supporting digestive function and may be used by aromatherapists for its calming, settling properties. Peppermint oil blends well with ginger - a great combination for digestive comfort when massaged topically or when diffused at mealtimes.
Peppermint is a refreshing essential oil and is useful for clearing the head to support focus when your brain needs it most.
Use peppermint oil to support a settled digestive system and when a clear and focused mind is top priority.
7. Frankincense Essential Oil for mindfulness
Frankincense ( Boswellia carterii) essential oil has been used for thousands of years, in rituals, skincare, and perfume. With a rich, warm perfume, it is used in aromatherapy to support feelings of calm and relaxation - useful for deepening a mindfulness practice and during times of stress.
Frankincense essential oil may be used in skincare to improve the appearance of skin and support healthy cell turnover. Frankincense is an excellent choice for supporting a relaxing bath or can be diffused into the air with its aromatic earthy notes and is beautifully blended with citrus oils.
Use Frankincense essential oil in a diffuser for peace and relaxation at home or pop it in a bath with Epsom Salts for a rejuvenating bath experience. You can even make it into a body spray to spritz during meditation or your own mindfulness practice.
8. Eucalyptus Blue Gum Essential Oil for easy breathing
Eucalyptus Blue Gum essential oil ( Eucalyptus globulus) is extremely popular for its immune support, as well as its uses for the respiratory system. Eucalyptus is often found in products designed to support the body’s response to ills and chills, where it is said to help support breathing and clear airways and is a great choice for diffusing into the air when congestion is an issue.
Blue Gum Eucalyptus is gentler than Eucalyptus Australiana, which means it is more suitable for use with children.
Use eucalyptus blue gum essential oil in a diffuser for healthy lungs and clear airways.
9. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil for a good sleep
A traditional essential oil used for children to support a happy agreeable mood in toddlers, as well as a good night sleep routine, and clear healthy skin. This oil has a sweet, warm, and floral-like fragrance with apple undertones.
10. Lemon Essential Oil for uplifting
Lemon essential oil is derived from the peel of the lemon fruit, and its fruity, citrus scent makes it an extremely popular choice for many people. Its fragrance is said to be energising, reviving and uplifting, and it is often diffused into the air for these properties.
Lemon essential oil has long been used in cleaning products for its ability to assist with cutting grease, and it can often be found in commercial cleaners and furniture care products as well as in recipes for homemade cleaners.
Used topically during a massage, lemon oil may support healthy veins and circulation. Lemon essential oil blends well with cedarwood, tea tree, and other citrus oils. It’s important to avoid lemon essential oil (and other citrus oils) on your skin if you’re going outdoors as they can make your skin more sensitive to burning.
Essential oils are volatile, extremely potent and must always be used properly, with care taken to ensure safe and effective use.
HealthPost has a carefully selected range of essential oils, many of which are certified organic. We also have a range of other aromatherapy products available to assist with the use of essential oils, such as diffusers and vapourisers.