We all know about the everyday power of scent: how a particular perfume reminds you of your beloved, or when the smell of your favorite restaurant brings you back to your first date there. But did you know that some scents can improve your health? Essential oils can also help you relax or sleep, or improve your skin or digestion — their benefits go well beyond a pleasant smell.
Essential oils can have a healing effect mentally, physically, and emotionally. You can apply them directly onto your skin, inhaling, or use through a diffuser.
Technically, essential oils aren’t oils at all, as they lack fatty acids. Rather, they’re highly concentrated plant components. It can take a huge amount of a plant to get out even a small portion of essential oil — 4,000 pounds of Bulgarian roses are needed to get just one pound of oil, for example, and this is why some essential oils are particularly expensive.
There are some general tips for using essential oils that apply regardless of the type. Looking for signs of a high-quality therapeutic-grade oil: pure, medicinal, and steam distilled. Never apply most oils directly to your skin, as their high concentration can cause a reaction or irritation. Instead, essential oils should be diluted with water or a carrier oil like jojoba or almond. And with a few exceptions, do not ingest essential oils. And always talk to your doctor about health concerns, especially if they represent sudden changes in your well-being.