There are many benefits to be enjoyed from essential oils. For example, they work well as natural cleaning solutions, can help us to relax and sleep better, treat wounds and provide other medical benefits. Happily, essential oils are readily available online, and in physical bricks and mortar stores these days, so you don’t have to search high and low to find them.
It can be a little hard trying to work out which ones to pick, though, with so many brands and individual offerings on the market. If you’re new to using these goods, check out some ways to make sure you buy the best essential oil products for your needs.
Research Brands and Products
Start your hunt for suitable essential oils by researching the different brands selling such products. There are many these days, with some selling online, in stores, or even via direct sales. While you have to take information written about companies with a grain of salt, doing your research into a brand’s reputation helps find the more trusted suppliers to put on your shortlist. If what you read is primarily positive, you know you’re onto a firm to consider.
Check out specific product reviews as part of your investigation. Some organizations produce products with differing levels of quality. One item may be very well-regarded, while another may not. Read reviews and testimonials not just on company websites, which could potentially be made up or doctored, but also on more impartial places such as social media posts, forums, blogs, and magazine write-ups.
Read Up on Ingredients and Processing Methods
Examine what kinds of ingredients are in the essential oils you’re comparing and how the contents are processed. Read the label carefully to ascertain if the ingredients are 100 percent pure essential oil or if there are other, often cheaper, fillers added. If the label says the product is “essence oil” or “fragrance oil,” beware, as this indicates you’re looking at a premixed blend of limited essential oil combined with a carrier oil or something else.
Hopefully, you’ll see a list of net content with measurements, too, plus data about exactly which parts of plants were used to create the oil and the source of the contents (i.e., the country of origin). If this latter information isn’t listed, there may be a lot number for you to look up on the company’s website, on the product listing or FAQ page. You also want to understand how the oil was extracted and if it was grown traditionally, organically, or wild-crafted. All these factors can make a big difference in quality.
Search Out Tested Products
Another tip when reading labels is to see if there are any product testing methods mentioned. There are no set regulations around essential oils that companies must adhere to. However, there are still some recognized global standards that many reputable brands hold themselves accountable to.
For example, GC/MS testing is a popular option. Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry testing information tells you about the contents of essential oil, such as if any additives are in it, if it has been adulterated, how much lower-quality oil is used, the beneficial compounds in each item, and the percentages of each that have used.
If a company offers GC/MC testing, this should be mentioned on the product label or business website. Note, though, that if a business doesn’t do any testing, this doesn’t necessarily mean their products are inferior. These tests are expensive, and companies, especially newer ones, may not have the funding available for this or choose to pass the cost advantages onto customers.
Understand Standard Price Ranges
While we all want to find the best deal on the products we buy, the “too good to be true” notion definitely applies regarding essential oil. Develop a good understanding of the average cost for most oils, so if you see an unusually low sale price for a particular product type, you’ll realize it’s likely to be low quality.
Essential oils cost roughly the same for all companies to produce and package. Hence, a great “deal” often means you’re looking at an offering that contains synthetic rather than natural oil, only small amounts of the essential oil they claim to include, or otherwise low-quality options. Get an understanding of the general prices of the goods you’re interested in so you know how to spot something with false advertising.
One other tip to keep in mind when buying essential oils is to select products with proper packaging to protect the goods inside. (You want dark glass bottles as opposed to clear plastic packaging). Consider all of these factors before you outlay any money on essential oil, and you’re much more likely to end up with a satisfactory product.
Plants aroma can change your mood
Aromas impact our emotions in different ways. Calming scents help our bodies deal with stress and depression. Other aromas stimulate the mind to keep us awake or to help us work more efficiently. Most scents stir the memory, but some do a better job than others. Generally, fragrances that we find pleasant make us feel good and assist us in functioning better emotionally.
Medical science is looking into the many ways people have traditionally used fragrant plants. It’s helping scientists uncover the untapped potential of aromas. Researchers are studying plants with rich aromatherapy lore, hoping to put our sense of smell to work helping us heal (as well as prevent) at least some emotional and physical diseases.
As a result, we now have a selection of aromatic plants with therapeutic uses that are backed by both science and history. Aromatherapists add a number of additional fragrant plants to their pharmacy plants that have not been scientifically investigated but have many traditional uses. The Fragrance Research Fund, a nonprofit coalition of fragrance industry companies, began collaborating with Yale University’s psychophysiology department in 1982 to investigate ways in which aroma affects personality and behavior. One program followed more than two thousand subjects over twenty years. A long list of disorders is being researched, including fatigue, migraine headaches, pain, food cravings, insomnia, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, sexual dysfunction, and memory loss.
Fragrance is certainly not as potent as its pharmaceutical counterparts, but it is nonaddicting, seems to have no side effects, and can be used safely with drugs. The typical prescription for aromatherapy is simply to take a sniff every few minutes.
Relaxing, stress-relieving scents
Chamomile, lavender, lemon, marjoram, orange blossom, and other citrus scents have been shown to enhance relaxation, encourage sleep, reduce depression and anxiety, and lower the body’s response to pain. It takes just a few whiffs of any one of these scents to calm the body physically and mentally. Spikenard and valerian increase the calming, meditative theta brain waves and deeply relaxing delta waves, while decreasing the more stimulating beta waves. Most lemon-scented plants, such as lemon grass, and lemon itself, help the nervous system overcome stress, nervous exhaustion, and especially sleep disorders. The eleventh century Islamic healer Avicenna recommended lemon balm to lift a bad mood.
A relaxed, happiness response is produced in the brain by clove-like scents. This may be one reason why clove-scented roses, clove pink, wallflower, and especially stocks became such well-loved garden flowers. Basil also has clove buried in its scent. The aromatic compound eugenol gives these plants their clove-like scent. University of Arizona psychologist Gary Schwartz, PhD, has had hundreds of people participate in studies on scent. He showed how clove produces relaxation and reduces stress, mental fatigue, and nervousness, as well as memory loss. The scent does this by moderating brain neurotransmitters and reducing adrenal cortisol levels that rise when we are stressed.
Herb-like scents that are identified by perfumers as “green odors” help protect the body from the negative impact of stress. The green scents of fennel, oregano, and marjoram appear to improve feelings of general well-being by adjusting neurotransmitter activity. Many green scents, such as German chamomile, gardenia, lemon grass, rose, and sweet flag have been shown to be calming because they enhance a brain chemical called GABA that encourages relaxation and sleep, sometimes more than sleeping pills. They are thought to work through the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which signal regulatory processes throughout the body to keep it in balance. Ruhr University researchers in Germany say that aromatherapy sprays may offer a new class of GABA modulators and “a scientific basis for aromatherapy.” Sniffing jasmine may be comparable to taking sedative drugs.
Antidepressant, feel-good scents
According to Dr. Jeanette Haviland-Jones of Rutgers University, fragrant flowers have an immediate positive effect on our emotional well-being, with the ability to “trigger satisfaction, happiness, emotional bonds with others, and alleviate depression and anxiety.” She calls peonies, roses, and other fragrant flowers fabulous mood-boosters. Scented blooms even increase innovative thinking and productivity in the workplace.
Stimulants and memory scents
Aromatherapy studies from Toho University School of Medicine in Tokyo determined that basil, clove, jasmine, and peppermint are very stimulating. Next in line are lemon grass, patchouli, rose, and sage. These scents prevent the sharp drop in concentration that typically occurs after thirty minutes of concentrated work. They are not as strong as drinking coffee, but also don’t overstimulate adrenal glands.
The uplifting fragrances of basil, jasmine, peppermint, and rosemary appear to stimulate the brain’s beta waves that focus mental activity, awareness, and alertness, and simply make a person feel good. They reduce stress and slow breathing by blocking stress-related nerve responses, but without depressing the nervous system. Mae Fah Luang University in Thailand and several other institutions found that air traffic controllers were more alert and computer operators made fewer errors and worked faster when workrooms were scented with either peppermint or eucalyptus.