Aessential oilis a volatile extract obtained from aromatic plants. Theessential oilsthey are used in various product sectors, from the cosmetics industry to aromatherapy, passing through applications in the pharmaceutical, food and perfume industries for the body and the environment.
What are essential oils?
Aessential oilit's a hydrophobic substance strongly aromatic, obtained both from the pressing of citrus peel and from the steam distillation of other plants. When it comes tocitrus essential oils, the correct term to use is "essence".
In chemical terms, aessential oilis a complex and heterogeneous, volatile mixture, with a prevalence of terpenoid compounds and lower percentages of aromatic compounds derived from phenylalanine or mixed compounds such as the couplethymol / carvacrol. In the essences (essential oilscitrus fruits) there are non-volatile compounds such as furocoumarins, responsible for photosensitization phenomena.
*hydrophobic substance,it means they are soluble in alcohol or in oil, but not in water.
What are essential oils used for?
As anticipated in the introduction, theessential oilsfind different applications in a large number of sectors.
Theessential oilshave also become popular thanks to the numerous uses they find in the world of do-it-yourself: to perfume the car interior or home environments in a natural way, for aromatherapy, for the preparation of DIY cosmetics, for of hair, for skin care, to produce perfumed detergents or in the garden, to prepare natural repellents for flies, mosquitoes and other parasites.
Essential oils - Properties
Based on theessential oilexamined, several can be foundproperty. Theessential oilsthey may have anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient, expectoral, carminative, antispasmodic, digestive stimulant, insect repellent properties…. they can also have beneficial effects on the psyche: soothe anxiety, relax, change mood, improve concentration levels ...propertyofessential oilsthey depend on their specific components and on mutual interaction.
Lot ofessential oilsownpropertymedicines that are still used today in traditional Asian medicine (see Indian medicine, ayurveda medicine).Let's take some examples:
- L'essential oilclove is considered a powerful analgesic, particularly useful against toothache.
- L'essential oil of officinal lavender(true lavender) is widespread inaromatherapy,as an antiseptic and for many other medicinal uses.
- L'essential oil of the tea plant (tree tea oil, Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil) is considered a powerful broad spectrum antiseptic.
- L'essential oilPeppermint (Mentha spica) is commonly used to relieve headaches.
Aromatherapy and essential oils
L'aromatherapyis a form ofalternative medicinein which aromatic substances have a great importance, for this reason it is necessary to wisely choose theessential oilto achieve the desired effect. Inaromatherapynot only the type ofessential oilchosen, the quality of the essential oil and the dosage are also decisive.
In addition toaromatherapy, theessential oilsfind employment on another kind ofalternative therapybased exclusively on perfumes, this practice is often called “osmotherapy”.
To learn more about the use of essential oils in aromatherapy, we refer you to the article: "Aromatherapy, essential oils for every need“.
Essential oils, contraindications
The use ofessential oilsit is “contraindicated” (not recommended) by pregnant women, by the elderly or weak and by children under the age of three.
Thecontraindicationsmay vary withpropertyofessential oil used. For example, cinnamon essential oil is allergenic, some are contraindicated for diffusion, others for massages, essences (citrus essential oils) are photosensitizers so you shouldn't be exposed to light after using them.
For the rest, more than ofcontraindications, we can talk about precautions for use:
- never use aessential oilorally without the authorization of a specialized professional: in case of accidental ingestion, consult a doctor or call a poison control center.
- Before using aessential oilcarry out an application test on the inner fold of the elbow in order to observe any allergic reactions.
- Theessential oilsthey should never be used pure but must be diluted. They dissolve in oil or alcohol, never in water.
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