When I was just beginning to incorporate essential oils into my family’s daily living, I experienced some miraculous-like results. And there was a certain point where I clearly remember thinking to myself, “This is too good to be true!” Are essential oils really a cure-all for EVERYTHING?” Your head hurts? Try an essential oil. You have a fungal rash? Try an essential oil. A bit depressed? Try an essential oil…
And if you don’t understand some of the science behind essential oils, i.e. how and why they work, it’s easy to relate to them as some type of magic elixir, or worse, end up dismissing them altogether as an expensive placebo. So, let’s get real for a moment and try to get a handle on the science of how essential oils actually affect our bodies.
An essential oil is a liquid that is distilled from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots, or other elements of a plant. The oil’s job is to protect the plant from environmental toxins and stressors, and carry oxygen throughout the plant. When these plant oils are extracted and distilled properly, they can actually do similar things for our bodies. Essential oils are made up of tiny molecules (as opposed to carrier oils or cooking oils, which have far larger molecules) which is an instrumental factor in their therapeutic capabilities. That is because:
1. Small molecules enable the oil to quickly vaporize and and affect the body through the nose and lungs.
2. Small molecules enable the oil to cross the blood-brain barrier quickly and effectively.
3. Small molecules can penetrate the skin, transdermally, within seconds.
Molecules, in turn, are made up of compounds. Without going into the intricate details and chemistry of all of these compounds, I will just share some important ones and what they can help us with:
1. PHENOLS – Phenols are made up of highly anti-septic, anti-bacterial, and disinfectant components. They create conditions where unfriendly viruses and bacteria cannot live. Some oils that are high in phenols are:
Note: Due to the high anti-septic components of these oils, they can cause a “hot” feeling on the skin. Unless applying to the bottom of the feet you may want to dilute them.
2. MONOTERPENES – Essential oils high in monoterpenes have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, as well as being emotionally uplifting and energizing. Some oils containing high levels of monoterpenes are:
3. SESQUETERPENES – Essential oils high in sesqueterpenes have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. Research shows that these oils are the most effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier (thus, very effective for treating ADD/ADHD) and can actually increase the oxygen flow to the brain. Some oils that contain high levels of sesqueterpenes are:
Another way that essential oils work is through their high frequency. Scientists are discovering more and more about the frequency of the body and how it relates to the quality of one’s health. When the body is in poor health – due to anything from a simple cough to cancer – the body operates at a lower frequency. When you’re healthy, the body operates at a higher frequency. There are many different factors that can contribute to the increase or decrease of the body’s frequency, but pertinent to this discussion is the high frequencies in essential oils. They can help raise the frequency of our body, which is a sign of overall health.
So there you have it. Although I do consider my oils to be miraculous, after you understand some of the chemistry behind them, you’ll realize they aren’t a magical potion nor some type of placebo. They are science and nature’s real deal.