Essential Oils: The Basics - Part III

How Do Essential Oils Work?


To answer this question is both very easy and very complicated. There are many sources for well-documented and positive effects of essential oils and blends used for wellness. But, the government prohibits the use of language to explain these positive effects on the human body. We leave it to your own judgement as to why there is no freedom of speech when it comes to natural care and maintenance of the human body. We will, nevertheless, dive straight in; despite the restrictions.

Essential Oils for Wellness

There exists, some three hundred essential oils which have been identified as being beneficial for human (and animal) wellness as well as hygiene. Of these, it is necessary only to familiarize yourself with approximately twenty in order to build a successful home and body regimen for yourself and your family. Just twenty oils, and a few common items, can help you to remove toxic cleaners from your home, throw away the chemical cocktails we generally use as personal hygience products, and make your home more pleasant to live in at the same time.

The 'essence' of essential oils refers to the ancient Aristotelian aspects of matter. The fifth aspect is ether or 'spirit'. As such, essential oils are comprised from that which makes the plant vital - It's quint-essence. This essense can be in the aroma of its voltiles as well as the actual bio-chemical constituents which give the oil its medicinal qualities. Both the aroma and the medicinal portions act via different mechanisms. Also, important to note, is that they may affect different people to varying degrees. What may be of significant benefit to one, when inhaled, may have no affect whatsoever on another in the same quantity. This however, is not generally an issue with the more direct methods of application.


Did You Know?
The elements of matter in the ancient world were Earth, Air, Fire, and Water? The fifth element is that which conveyed life. It has been called 'aether' or 'essence'. Alternatively, it is also referred to as spirit. It is this fifth element (or 'quintessence') from which the term 'essential oil' is derived.

Indirect Mechanisms of Application

Essential Oils Have Positive Effects on the Emotional Brain

The first mechanism by which essential oils can operate is through the sense of smell. It is a well-documented fact that aromas affect brain chemistry by either triggering certain secretions or by inhibiting others. Aromatherapy has developed around this mechanism and the research which goes a long way to validating the profession.

While there is little available funding for research on essential oils (due to there being nothing to patent, and therefore no profit motive), several aromatherapy associations around the world have funded their own studies which help us to map the brain's likely responses to specific aromas. In the era of fMRI studies, we can actually see which areas of the brain are reacting in real-time images. Some of the most dramatic effects are seen in the limbic system of the neocortex, an area associated with emotional response and controls; including chronic fear and stress. The future for essential oils looks bright as new evidence continues to validate centuries of common-sense application. Could we discover a natural way to manage our more negative emotions? Is it possible that something as simple as essential oils could be instrumental in dealing with trauma and PTSD without all of the debilitating anti-psychotic drugs? Those of us in the wellness arts say; Yes!

The aroma of an oil is simply the chemicals of that oil which evaporate into the air and are inhaled. While aromatherapy concentrates on inhalation as a delivery system for the oils, the brain is not the only organ to benefit from essential oils. Nor is inhalation the only method for administering them.

It is also important to note that inhaled vapors, whether beneficial or harmful (such as those from household cleaners), enter the bloodstream through the alveoli in the lungs. These absorbed gases reach the brain in less than four seconds.

Aromatherapists and other wellness practitioners, the world over, eagerly look forward to the day when we can confidently specify the brain's likely reaction in scientific terms rather than the limited vocabulary now permitted by regulation. We are permitted to say "Lavendar is relaxing" or that "Frankincense is uplifting". But, are certainly NOT permitted to say that "Lavender enhances dopamine balance and receptor sensitivity". Even when citing a study which demonstrates the effect.

Direct Application Methods

There are, currently three incrementally direct methods for applying essential oils for wellness purposes. They are:

  • Topical
  • Ingestion and...
  • Subcutaneous Injection

Topical application refers to the dripping, massaging, or bathing methods used to apply the oils to the surface of the skin, where it is absorbed through follicles, sweat glands as well as small cuts or scrapes. As the oil is absorbed, it eventually makes its way into the circulatory system. From there it can be transported to practically every cell in the body.

Ingestion refers to using oils in food, drink, or swallowing gelatin capsules in which an oil, or blend of oils has been placed. For some oils, this can be a distinct advantage. Fennel, for instance is used to assist with digestion. But, it can be very strong to some people to take 'straight'. Placing a drop or two of the oil in a juice, or on your prepared meal can not only enhance the flavor, but allow the oils to be absorbed more slowly. Other oils may need to be absorbed before reaching the digestive enzymes in the stomach. For those oils, taking with food and drink is an excellent hack. Ingestion also includes the practice of placing a drop of oil under the tongue to allow quicker absorbtion. This is more in line with the homeopathic tradition.

Subcutaneous refers to the practice of injecting essential oils suspended in a solution, under the skin. A bolus of solution under the skin is slowly absorbed and reaches the circulatory system over a certain period of time. Of course, this is not widely practiced outside of research, as it can be harmful if one doesn't know exactly what they are doing. Several studies on the effects of essential oils have been performed using this method. And, while absorbtion rates can be controlled predictably, the overall effect does not seem to warrant the invasiveness of the procedure.

Again, each of these methods of application have their own pros and cons. The vast majority of essential oils are applied using the Aromatherapy, Topical or Ingestion methods. Usually, a quality diffuser and your own two hands are all that is necessary to enjoy the wellness benefits of essential oils.

Safety Considerations:
Some essential oils are considered 'hot'. These include but, are not limited to, Cinnamon Bark, Oregano, and Pepper Oils.
While some may do just fine applying these oils directly to the skin or heavily diffusing into the air, please consider your children, pets, and house guests who may not be able to tolerate these oils as well as you may. Tea Tree oil, which is a favorite for me, is not well-tolerated by cats and some breeds of dog.

What Do They Do Inside the Body?


Here is where the 'rubber meets the road' - so to speak. And, while the question is a straight-forward one, the answer (at least that which is permitted by regulation) is not so simple. The fact is, asking if essential oils work is a lot like asking "Do tires work for a car?" The answer is basically, YES! But, it all depends upon the specific tire as well as the car for which it is intended. Likewise, the results expected from any essential oil depends upon the type of oil, the quality of the oil, and the condition of the person using the oil. Overall, each essential oil, in its pure and therapeutic form, does indeed affect the physiology in much the same way that is historically proscribed.

Some common uses for essential oils have indeed been studied. And, while the results are promising, we are not allowed to recommend any oils for specific medical applications.

While prescriptive recommendations are not permitted, there is no reason we cannot outline the studies performed as well as the results.

Some of the following study results have been confirmed by Heritage Essentials members. We feel confident in saying that Essential Oils Increase the Quality of Life for Many.

Pain Relief

Certain essential oils are garnering a lot of attention for their ability to relieve pain due to inflammation as well as increase likelihood of positive outcome in a hospital setting.

In one study, children who were post-op for tonsilectomy, benefitted from inhalation of lavender essential oil. The stated outcome was that the children required less pain relief medication than those who were not offered lavender. Another study revealed that topical application of lavender oil with hemodialysis patients, made the large-bore needle insertion measurabley less painful.

Wintergreen essential oil has long been known to contain anti-inflammatory properties due to the fact that it contains natural methyl-salicylate (a form of salicytic acid which is marketed as 'aspirin'.) Menthol, contained in Peppermint, along with wintergreen are frequently listed as ingredients in pharmaceutical sports creams.

Young Living provides several options in this category including: Wintergreen, Peppermint, and Oregano; as well as blended oils such as "PanAway".

Focus, Alertness and Concentration

Go to any essential oils supplier or retailer, and you can find blends to assist with staying alert and productive. In one of the actual double-blind-controlled studies performed in The United Kingdom by N.T.J.Tildesley et. al.. Subjects experienced increased alertness and even tested with better memory recall from using a single herbal, it is called Sage. Most oils retailers offer Sage Essental Oil as part of their catalog. The reason is, traditional usage practice has already taught us this. Sage helps users to stay alert and focused. The same study suggests that sage may also be palliative for the ravages of Alzheimer's.

In yet another small study, it was confirmed that rosemary oil helps improve performance in 'cognitive' tasks. Cognitive tasks are those requiring the subject to figure out an answer to a problem. The subjects in the study were found to significantly improve in such tasks due to the active compound in rosemary oil, which is named 1,8-cineole, that was found in the bloodstream of the subjects. The best part of the study is that it demonstrated that there was no speed-accuracy trade-off such as that experienced with caffeine.

Young Living provides several options in this category including: Clary Sage, and Rosemary; as well as blended oils such as "Clarity", "Brain Power", and "Motivation".

Digestive Issues

It has long been understood by holistic professionals that essential oils and herbal teas have significant impact on digestive insufficiency and dysfunction.

Therefore, it is significant to note that research (and common sense) tell us that inhaling lemon oil upon the onset of 'queasiness' can nip that nausea right in the bud. Expecting mothers have known for centuries that lemon and peppermint are great for nausea.

In other research, it is noted that post-op patients required less anti-nausea medication use after surgery when peppermint was used.

Young Living offers many options in this category including both Lemon, Fennel, and Peppermint; as well as blended oils such as "DiGize".

Endocrine system

OK, something just for the men out there. Well, maybe for their ladies too. You be the judge.

A common essential oil called Mountain Savory (and some variant species of Savory) just might be the testosterone enhancer needed by many men who suffer from low testosterone. It has been shown to increase testosterone while decreasing estrogen levels which, among other things, is responsible for that stubborn abdominal fat. The study was published in 2015 by Heshmatollah Khosravinia of the Lorestan University in Iran who also did some interesting work with Thyme. Additional citations include SulmazHaeri et. al. also in Iran, Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

Young Living offers Mountain Savory as part of its single oils catalog. Additionally, several oils which are traditionally used by women are available. Such as; Geranium, Palmarosa, and Rose. Synergistic, blended oils such as Lady Sclareol are also available.

What is the Bottom Line?

Essential Oils Have Positive Effects on the Emotional Brain

Essential oils, when used properly, have effects on every system of the human body. Integument (skin and connective tissue), digestive, circulatory, muscular, and the nervous systems all benefit from the natural constituents of essential oils. Essential oils can be a beneficial part of any wellness lifestyle. And, may provide indispensible support to practically any physical activity - before, during, and after.

Our goal at Heritage Essentials is to provide accurate information and support for our members. Whether you are an extreme athlete, someone who suffers from seasonal respiratory discomfort, or a mom who just wants the best non-toxic household possible for her family. We are here; To assist you in reclaiming that which was lost, our Natural Wellness Traditions and your own unique wellness lifestyle. Join us on the journey. Become a member today.


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