What Are Essential Oils?

For those who have never heard of or used them before, navigating the world of essential oils can be daunting. There are hundreds from which to choose, not including the various blends and products made with essential oils. Each oil, blend, and product offers different benefits, which can make choosing the right one feel overwhelming. However, when their composition, benefits, and uses are understood, essential oils can provide incredible and numerous health benefits for the consumer. These natural and appealing oils have the ability to safely and effectively treat a world of ills.

The Basics

oil_distillationEssential oils are oils derived from a variety of plants. They can be derived from any part of the plant, including the bark, roots, flowers, or leaves. In general, these oils are obtained through a process called distillation or through a process called expression. In distillation, water, steam, or a combination of both are used to release the oils from the plants, and then condensed into the oil. The process of expression is used to obtain the citrus essential oils and involves removing the essential oils from the rind of the fruit by use of a sponge. Each technique is an ancient and time tested method of obtaining the essential oils. The result of each of these processes is an oil that is completely natural and untainted by the addition of synthetic chemicals or fragrances. Any oil that contains synthetic chemicals or fragrances cannot be considered a pure essential oil, and its health benefits will be limited.

Because the oils consist of the basic building blocks of the plant from which they come, they smell like the plant and offer many of the same health properties as the rest of the plant does. What sets them apart, however, is their strength and effectiveness. Each essential oil is extremely concentrated and extremely powerful. The result is that consumers need only use a small portion of the oil to obtain its health benefits. In addition, the essential oil is versatile, typically able to be diffused throughout a room, mixed into another oil and used in massage, and, in some cases, even consumed. As a result, they allow the consumer to enjoy the health benefits of the plant or plants from which the oils come in whichever way is most convenient and effective for the problem they are wishing to treat.


Essential oils typically come as a clear or yellow liquid in a small bottle. The best oils are undiluted and untainted with any other chemicals or fragrances. As a result, they are extremely concentrated. They are, therefore, best used in small quantities. Even a drop or two is generally sufficient to obtain the full benefits of the oil. There are many ways to use the oil in order to obtain its health benefits. One of the most common is to use a diffuser to disperse the oil in water droplets throughout a room or car. This process allows anyone in the room to benefit from the properties of the oil.

Essential_oil_DiffuserMany oils can also be used as massage oils. In these instances, the essential oil is diluted with a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, to prevent skin irritation from direct application of the undiluted oil. Some oils, which are not as potent, can be used directly on the skin, usually by massaging a drop or two directly onto the area that the consumer wants to be treated. For instance, a couple drops might be applied to a patch of eczema, or applied to the neck for the relief of muscle pain.

Some essential oils are considered food grade and, therefore, a drop or two may be added to food and consumed for its flavor and health properties, added to gel caplets and ingested as a dietary supplement, or applied directly to the tongue. In addition, essential oils have been used to create many types of skin care, hair care and health products. For instance, creams, lotions, pills, multivitamins, and other products can help to bring the benefits of essential oil to the consumer through easy to use items.


Essential oils offer a huge array of benefits to those who use them. The specific benefits of using any essential oil depend primarily upon the type of oil being used. Each oil tends to bring its own set of benefits. For instance, lavender is used to help calm and relax. Other essential oils work best to restore skin, have an anti-aging effect, calm the digestive system, improve respiratory function, or increase brain function. Other physical benefits of essential oils include working as an antibacterial agent to cleanse wounds, as an antioxidant to prevent cancer and aging, as a bug repellent, sleep inducer, or pain reliever.

essential_oilsBesides the many physical benefits essential oils offer, many of them also offer emotional benefits. The most common of these is stress reduction and relaxation. These benefits come best when the oil is inhaled through diffusion. Other emotional benefits include fighting depression, improving overall mood, heightening alertness, and reducing fatigue. Some people claim that essential oils even possess spiritual benefits, such as centering the person. When choosing an oil or blend, the consumer should consider what they want to achieve with the oil and choose the one that best fits with those goals.


Essential oils are completely natural and very safe to use. However, they are also potent and powerful and therefore should be used with care. For instance, they are generally not recommended for use on children older than two years old. They should also not be used by pregnant women or those who are taking medication without a doctor’s approval. In addition, because of their strength, they can cause skin irritation and should, therefore, not generally be used directly on the skin without dilution in carrier oils. In addition, consumers should be careful only to use the oils that do not contain any additives such as chemicals or fragrances, because these are not as effective as the pure essential oils. The very best essential oils are therapeutic grade. When these therapeutic grade oils are used for the health benefits they provide, they can offer consumers a natural, pleasant, and effective way to improve their health and overall well-being.

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