There are many reasons why consumers should inform themselves about the therapeutic use of essential oils. They have many positive properties, and very few drawbacks. Essential oils are capable of being anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, appetite stimulating, carminative, choleretic, circulation stimulating, deodorizing, expectorant, granulation stimulating, hyperaemic, insecticidal, insect repelling and sedating. Essential oils are natural antimicrobial agents able to act on bacteria, viruses and fungi, and many trials have been conducted that validate much of their traditional use.
While understanding the properties of essential oils and mastering their therapeutic use can be quite intimidating, our suggestion is to either choose one oil, or one ailment, and trial them one at a time. You will soon be sharing with friends and family your success.
Essential oils work synergistically, meaning they can perform a plethora of beneficial actions without destructing the human body. This is contrary to antibiotics for example, which may have a single action and leave mass casualty within the gastrointestinal tract. Essential oils are especially valuable as anti-septics because their aggression towards microbial germs is matched by their total harmlessness to tissue. They have way of destroying selectively, ultimately diminishing resistance. However, Price & Price (2007) recommend prescribing the use of three or four essential oils in combination to minimize any risk of acquired resistance to any one oil. To our benefit, essential oils are natural products and so their composition varies with each fresh batch.
While scientists do not fully understand the analgesic properties of essential oils, or the complexity of human pain itself, experts believe the combination of their anti-inflammatory, circulatory and detoxifying effects are the cause of their success. The phenol eugenol found in the oil of clove is well known for its use in calming dental pain, wintergreen oil has traditionally been used in rubs for muscle pain, and menthol has been used specifically for headaches with great relief. On the skin, oils rich in terpenes have an analgesic effect. White birch, chamomile, frankincense, wintergreen, clove, lavender and mint are well-known for their analgesic and antalgic effects (Price & Price, 2007).
Much research has been conducted to investigate the fungicidal and fungistatic effects of cinnamon, clove, fennel and thyme. Each were found active against Candida albicans, Sporotrichon, and Trichophyton species. Chamomile has also proven effective against Trichophyton rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, T. tonsurans, T. quinckeanum, and Microsporum canis in concentrations of 200 mg/ml. The compounds, aldehydes and esters, are effective against various fungi, including Candida infection and melaleuca has been investigated in vaginal infections with Candida and has been found effective. Rosemary, savory and thyme also have antifungal properties. Athlete’s foot, vaginal infections, yeast under the breast or among other skin folds can quite easily be eliminated with the use of essential oils.
Lavender and chamomile have widely been used to soothe minor inflammatory irritations such as sunburns, small burns and insect bites.
Research has demonstrated lavender and tea tree oil, either diluted in Jojoba oil, to greatly decrease itching and otherwise enhance hydration.
Chamomile oil has been found to be capable of inactivating toxins produced by bacteria and a 1988 study demonstrated that within two hours, chamomile oil can destroy three times its amount in staphylococcal toxins. Streptococcal toxins were even more sensitive (Price & Price, 2007).
Recommendations specific to use of essential oils as antivirals isn’t quite comprehensive, as while many sources site specific oils for antiviral use, they quite often fail to specify which virus the oil is effective against. Herpes is one that has strong anecdotal support, specifically Melissa for oral herpes and geranium in the early stages of shingles, but evidence is not present to support these claims. Influenza may be sensitive to black pepper, lemongrass and vetiver, but again, limited evidence is available at this time (Price & Price, 2007).
Essential oils can help to replace the odors that present from disease states by tackling the bacteria itself. For example, some hospital burn units use essential oils to not simply disguise these unpleasant odors but actually cancel them out. Incontinence odors too, can be assisted with the use of essential oils. Bad-smelling wounds can be deodorized with lavender and of course, patchouli is often used in foot or axillary deodorants.
The ability of essential oils to normalize hormone activity is quite profound. Although scientists aren’t clear how this occurs, there are a plethora of studies demonstrating effectiveness. Fennel for example, has shown to assist with premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and amenorrhea (lack of menses). Pine is similar to cortisone, and the essential oil of Vitex agnus-castus balances progesterone levels and moderates excess estrogen by direction actions on the pituitary. Cypress contains a chemical structure which is a homologue of the ovarian hormone.
Thyroid Affecting Oils
While many oils are claimed to have an effect on the thyroid, either stimulating or down-regulating, garlic and pine are known to be stimulants and carrot seed can help balance production of thyroxin, as well as myrrh. Black spruce is said to be cortisone-like and useful in cases of hyperthyroidism (Price & Price, 2007).
This was shared only to encourage you in the use of essential oils, and to offer a bit of amazing truth that will inspire you to dig deeper. Certainly this is not an exhaustive list as the range of beneficial effects of essential oils is immense. We encourage readers to meet with their practitioner or their aromatherapist to discuss the safe use of aromatherapy.