Essential Oils: Are they Really 'Essential' ?

Essential oils, shortened version of the original “quintessential oils”, are not a modern discovery. For centuries these oils have been used around the globe for religious, spiritual and healing purposes. Essential oils, also known as aromatic oils, can be traced as far back as 4500 BCE where evidence and recorded history have both shown that the Egyptians used aromatic oils. They became renowned for their knowledge of cosmetology, ointments and aromatic oils. The most famous of their herbal preparations “Kyphi” was a mixture of 16 ingredients that could be used as incense, perfume or medicine.

The use of aromatic oils was first recorded in China between 2697-2597 B.C.E during the reign of Huang Ti, the legendary Yellow Emperor. His famous book “The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine” contains uses for several aromatics and is still considered a useful classic by practitioners of eastern medicine today. Traditional Indian medicine called “Ayur Veda” has a 3000-year history of incorporating essential oils into their healing potions. Vedic literature lists over 700 substances including cinnamon, ginger, myrrh and sandalwood as effective for healing.

Essential Oils or Aromatic oils, as mentioned above, were used to heal the sick or for spiritual levitation. But, in this blog specifically, i am going to be talking about essential oils in skin care. I know that many people will disagree with what i may have to say in this post and that’s the very same reason why i was motivated to post about this. The general consensus when it comes to essential is that “they are safe as long as diluted with a carrier oil”. I, personally, love using essential oils around my home. Essential oils are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory anti-spasmodic, antioxidant and a natural anti-depressant! They can, in varying ways, be stimulating and a sedating. Some essential oils have the ability to work as hormones that helps to bring balance to many physiological systems of the human body.

The fragrance of EOs can directly effect your emotional state and your lifespan – the limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control our emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. the fragrances can also enhance the libido and sexual arousal by stimulating the emotional center of the brain. But with that beings said, i still hold back when it comes to using EOs on my skin and i will tell you why.

For many years, i have had a problem of applying things into my skin with names i couldn’t even pronounce. This is what drove me to natural skin care and natural hygiene and yes, i love it and will never go back to commercial products. But, when it comes to EOs, there is too much misconception as to what, when, how, why people include essential oils in their regimen.

Essential oils are very complex and potent, they are extracted through a process of distillation from plants, shrubs, roots and seeds. Imagine this: one whole plant can yield as little as just one drop of EO. This means that to make about a 1 liter of essential oil, you need a few hundred kilograms of plant matter. So, you can just imagine how concentrated and potent a drop of EO is. Essential oils are also very different to vegetable carrier oils as they are not greasy, nor do they clog pores. Essential oils are also not so much as to say “oily” like carrier oils, they are more of a water texture.

SO, SOUNDS LIKE ESSENTIAL OILS ARE AWESOME, WHY YOU HATING ON THEM?

Okay, first of all, i am not hating on essential oils. I know that they are remarkable in their healing properties. My only concern is applying them into our skin. I can’t do a breakdown on all essential oils every known to man but i can sum up the most used essential oils.

1. SKIN DISCOLORATION, BURNING AND SORES

Some essential oils can cause you to burn in the sunlight. Before you head out to the beach, make sure you don’t have a photosensitizing oil on your skin. Reactions can range from discoloration to painful burns. Did your blogging friend mention that? Photosensitizing oils include, but aren’t limited to:

Bergamot EO
Lemon EO
Lime EO
Cumin EO
Lemongrass EO
Grapefruit EO
Orange EO
2. DANGER TO BABIES AND PREGNANT WOMEN

Babies, pregnant women and breastfeeding women should use extreme caution. When dealing with babies, kids, pregnant women and breastfeeding women. oils such as Rosemary and Spike Lavender should never be used on pregnant women, even diluted. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (USA) recommends that pregnant women avoid the following oils, among others:

Sage EO
Mugwort EO
Tarragon EO
Wintergreen EO
3. SKIN IRRITATION AND ITCHING

A drop of peppermint oil on the back of your neck can help a headache — or it can cause serious skin irritation. Many oils irritate the skin when applied undiluted or diluted. Don’t assume that every oil is safe to apply directly to your skin. These are just a few oils that can cause skin irritation:

Lemongrass EO
Cinnamon leaf EO
Citronella EO
Bay EO
Peppermint EO
Mint EO
Camphor EO
4. DANGEROUS INTERACTIONS WITH PREEXISTING CONDITIONS

Even inhaling some oils can cause side effects for people with health problems. Don’t use with preexisting conditions like asthma or heart problems unless you’re working with a trained aromatherapist. Aromatherapy training involves rigorous training, and includes studying chemistry and drug interactions. Don’t listen to your friend just because she’s selling oils.

6. ILLNESS OF FATALITIES WHEN SWALLOWED

Yes, there are people who drink essential oils out there. This isn’t something an everyday essential oil fan should try. Oils like Pennyroyal and Wintergreen can be fatal if swallowed. Some toxic oils can cause miscarriage when swallowed. Others can become highly irritating when they’ve been kept on the shelf too long. Skip oral use unless you’re using oils under the supervision of a medical professional.

Look, i am not saying stay away from essential oils. At the end of the day, it is up to you what oils you want to use for your skin. I think that essential oils just get a free pass because they are natural are known to heal. although my biggest problem is topical application of the oils, some of the warnings include aromatherapy as well. I think the best place to get an essential oil is from people who specialise in essential oils. This includes herbalists, aromatherapists and medical aestheticians. Places where you can ask questions and get answers because the people who work there would have to be well-versed. Don’t listen to bloggers, ironic i know, because i am a blogger myself. But, understand that i always have the health of my readers at heart. Thus, i would never intentionally misinform you.

Oftentimes, people come to me and say ‘but i have been using this essential oil and its been great for my skin’. That’s cool, but you have to first understand that some people get affected more severely than other and this is dependent on skin type. True, sensitive skin individuals applying lemongrass, grapefruit or bergamot essential oil and going outside might get burnt a lot faster than I, a normal skin individual. Also, remember that just because you don’t see changes, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t happening.

For example, citrus oils are used mainly for oily skin individuals for skin cases such as hyperpigmentation and scarring. At the same time, these oils, or products with these oils, make your skin photosensitive (especially if using them everyday). And this photosensitivity makes your skin susceptible to hyperpigmentation, scarring, drying and wrinkling. So, are you really winning or are you being counterproductive?

The best thing is that, you do not have to apply the oils topically for them to work for your skin. Invest in a diffuser or add essential oils to your candles. The inhalation of these oils will also work to your advantage. So, that is why i do not necessarily agree with essential oils in skin care. Just be careful what you put into your skin, your 20 year old self has great and supple skin, but your 40 year old self wont. Especially if you carry on applying things into your skin which have potentially damaging outcomes.

All love:)

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