There are two main ways to manufacture essential oils: distillation or expression. In distillation, plant material is stored in a sealed container and steamed to release its essence.
This mixture of essence and steam rises and travels through a connecting pipe into a condenser. There, the gas condenses into a liquid containing oil (the valuable part!) and water. Since oil rises above water, it is skimmed off, treated, bottled and sold.
On the other hand, expression—an older method of extraction— involves the pressing of plant material to release their oils.
Aside from their complex extraction processes, essential oil’s higher price points are also due to the high amounts of resources used. For example, it takes close to 50kgs worth of rose petals just to create a 5ml bottle of essential oil!
This is why essential oils are considered a luxury product, and rightly so—the precious oil has a host of health benefits too. We spoke with Daniel Loh of Massage Supplies Warehouse on the myriad benefits of using these gifts of nature. He shares the following:
It relieves respiratory problems
Daniel cites the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information “Certain essential oils tested in laboratories are anti-bacterial, and have shown to kill 22 strains of bacteria Some of such popular oils include peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass,” he shares. These oils are helpful in relieving respiratory issues like congestions and runny noses.
It relieves mental stress
Research has shown that essential oils are effective for relieving mental stress levels in people. Each essential oil contains different chemical compounds that give it a unique scent profile. When inhaled, these compounds have a unique effect on the user. For example, clary sage is known to reduce anxiety levels by reducing cortisol and increasing serotonin, while ylang ylang is said to uplift one’s mood and provide a calming effect.
“One experimental treatment was essential oil inhalation and the placebo treatment was carrier oil inhalation,” continues Daniel. “It was concluded that aroma inhalation is an effective stress management method.”
It supports healthier sleep habits
Having trouble getting an uninterrupted night’s rest? Then some essential oil might be of good use. Aromatherapy helps calm the mind, which in turn relaxes the body and prepares it for sleep. This is great news if you experience bodily tensions during rest, such as teeth clenching. Having a relaxed body before sleep will keep these night habits at bay.
How should I use essential oils?
Now that you know the ways essential oils can improve your well being, follow Daniel’s tips on how to use them!
1. Freshen up your laundry!
“It is easy to use essential oils in your daily life. You may spray your laundry with such oils to scent your clothes,” says Daniel. “I spray my pillow with lavender for a better night’s sleep. You can also rub some oils on your acupressure points to relieve headaches.”
2. Dab a small amount on your skin!
“Application on the skin is good for muscular issues or for skin issues. The trick lies in applying small, diluted amounts.
Pure Essential oils are very concentrated plant extracts, so they generally need to be diluted before application on the skin, with the exception of some oils like lavender and peppermint.”
3. Use it in a diffuser!
Using oils with diffusers are good for relieving mental tiredness and stress, shares Daniel.
Among these diffusers, you may use a reed diffuser, or an essential oil burner to diffuse the smell throughout your room. Just make sure you don’t leave such lamps unattended!
But don’t skimp on quality!
Before you go ahead with your essential oil purchase, remember that not all of them are made equal. According to Daniel, cheap online sales are sometimes too good to be true.
“Many people compare oils and say they can buy essential oils for very low prices from the Internet—sometimes at just a few dollars! But they should also make sure they are comparing oils of the same grade and purity,” he insists.
When it doubt, it’s better to visit a brick and mortar store to test the oils for levels of concentration and potency. “Such stores have a wide range oil oils for people to test on the spot, and they should be able to tell the quality difference after comparing,” shares Daniel.
Granted, aromatherapy has a host of benefits that extend beyond physical health benefits. So why not purchase a bottle of this mood booster the next time you come across it?