Essential oils have been around for more than 5000 years and their benefits are truly wonderful.
Used first and foremost in aromatherapy, these marvelous oils—derived from plants like lavender, roses, tea tree, peppermint, and rosemary—contain the unique essence of each plant and let off the amazing smells of each.
The chemicals of essential oils interact with our bodies in a number of ways , but most importantly is the interaction with our limbic systems. Our limbic systems play a role in emotional balance, behavior, and even enhance memory, as well as controlling our sense of smell, our breathing, our blood pressure, and our heart rate.
When the essential oils interact with the limbic system, they’re known to improve digestion, reduce anxiety, boost mood, and even reduce headaches. They’re a widely accepted treatment for insomnia and sleep problems.
Other research  has indicated that essential oils contain antioxidant, antibiotic, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, making them highly effective at boosting our immunity to disease and infection.
However, one of their best—and often most under-appreciated benefits—is their ability to reduce chronic inflammation.
One research paper  looked specifically at essential oils to determine how they can help to improve overall health by combating inflammation. Given the fact that inflammation is such a complex response to so many potential factors, it was necessary to look at data from multiple studies and sources. The result, however, was absolutely fascinating.
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Essential oils were used in all preclinical studies, examined both in vitro and in vivo. Thirty different articles were examined as part of the systematic review, and across all of them it was discovered that essential oils helped to reduce chronic inflammation.
The primary mechanism for combatting chronic inflammation was by reducing two very specific components:
Reactive oxygen species
Reactive nitrogen species
Both of these are linked to elevation of antioxidant enzymes, but using essential oils led to a marked reduction in proinflammatory cytokines. These cytokines are a marker indicating high inflammatory activity taking place in the body. A reduction indicates that the intervention (in this case, essential oils) helped to reduce the inflammation that would trigger their release.
As the study sums up, “essential oils and their major compounds are promising tools for the treatment of chronic inflammation.”
Pretty amazing, right? While there’s a lot of research left to be done, the fact that even these preclinical studies have led to visible improvement in the blood markers of inflammation are hopeful.
Before you dive in head-first to using essential oils in every part of your life, it’s important to know that there are some considerations.
If you apply essential oils directly to your skin without diluting them (with a gentle oil such as sweet almond oil), you run the risk of triggering a negative skin reaction. Many people using highly potent essential oils notice rashes and allergic reactions.
Essential oils have been known to trigger asthma attacks as well, especially to those who are highly sensitive or allergic.
Oils made from citrus fruits can make your skin more prone to burning in the sun, while oils high in phenols (like cinnamon oil) are known to trigger irritation.
The key to benefitting from essential oils SAFELY is to start off slow!
Start off by finding the essential oils that provide the benefits you want (reducing stress, treating headaches, etc.) and testing them one at a time. Make sure that the oil isn’t full potency, but that you dilute it so that it doesn’t trigger a negative reaction in your body and skin.
Use only small amounts at first, and only when you’re not going out into the sun or heat. Be aware of any negative reactions on your skin, and at the first sign of irritation, stop use until your skin heals.
Try using essential oil diffusers instead of applying it directly to your skin. You may find that inhaling the aroma particles mixed with water droplets is actually easier for your body to handle the potency, and it still stimulates your limbic system the same way.
Essential oils can help to fight chronic inflammation in your body and improve your health, but it’s important that you moderate your use until you’re sure it won’t trigger other health problems!
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