What is an Essentail Oil?

My first memory of essential oils is of my mother massaging lavender into my wrists and temples when I was nervous. To this day I do the same if I have a big meeting, or a life event that I’m finding stressful, and it was a god send during my A Levels. But it wasn’t until my pregnancy that I started looking deeper into what essential oils actually are. Primarily to check if using them was safe, but later on out of an interest that swiftly grew to become a fascination.

So, what is an essential oil? As far as I understand it, an essential oil is essentially (ha!) what gives a plant it’s smell and taste. When I smell my lavender plants wafting in from garden it is their essential oil that I am enjoying. Although in truth they aren’t even oils, they are actually highly concentrated, antioxidant plant components that we distil to form ‘oils’, and can come from any part of the plant – the flowers, leaves, stems, bark, roots, seeds, berries and resin (any part I’ve missed…!) But, oddly enough, as yet we’re still unsure of the function of them within the plants themselves.

The process of extracting them was perfected eons ago, their individual properties uncovered, and nowadays we use them in almost every aspect of life, in cosmetics, perfumery, therapy, food and even pharmaceutical and cleaning products. Their power is completely undeniable! However what I am most interested in, is how using essential oils can help us, our bodies, our minds and our spirits.

Essential oils enter and start to interact with the human body incredibly quickly. I was once told by a lady from my local Neal’s Yard that to test this for yourself you can try cutting a clove of garlic in half and rubbing it on the skin on the back of your hand or wrist. Within half an hour you should be able to smell it on your breath (or better thought, maybe get a friend to do it!). Amazing though huh!?

I have witnessed for myself the benefits of using essential oils and how they can strengthen and enhance your life. They offer us a natural solution for keeping ourselves balanced and centred in the madness of the daily grind that we now face, and I would encourage everybody to use them. Even if you think such things are a little ‘wishy washy’ you can appreciate the lift that the pure scent of lemon will give you, the instant calming effect of lavender.

The power of essential oils and nature leaves my head buzzing; it utterly fascinates me. I love learning about the properties of oils I am yet to experience, and hope you’ll enjoy doing this along side me.

Do you have a favorite essential oil? I’m always looking for recommendations, so if there is one you simply love, do let me know.

QUICK NOTE: Always be smart when using your oils. As stated they are amazingly strong, concentrated substances. Neal’s Yard is my favourite supplier, A, because the store and their products are amazing and top quality, but, B, because all their staff are so knowledgeable. Always ask. You pick up so many tips and tricks along the way, but also learn how to use your oils safely, and draw the most benefits from them.

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