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Everything You Need to Know About Essential Oils

Believe it or not, plant-derived oils may help cure some common ailments.

Derived from plants, an essential oil is scented liquid that's taken (by pressure or steam) from certain plant species. These oils are then used in aromatherapy, food flavorings, medicine, and perfumes. Many people tout essential oils as being useful for a variety of health conditions, and research appears to back up some of these claims. Examples of essential oils include geranium, tea tree, lemon, lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, eucalyptus, dill, pine and juniper oils. A few common essential oils and their uses are listed below.

Tea Tree Oil

Using tea tree oil has been shown to help treat numerous health conditions. According to Mayo Clinic, these include acne, dandruff, lice (tea tree oil appears to help treat lice when combined with lavender oil), and Athlete’s foot. So instead of using prescription or over-the-counter medications for these conditions, many people prefer the more holistic approach of naturally-derived tea tree oil.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil when combined with tea tree oil appears to be a natural way to help treat lice when applied to the scalp and hair. Lavender aromatherapy (breathing in lavender oil particles) may provide some additional health benefits. These include reduced pain for people with arthritis and kidney stones — and better quality of life for dementia patients, says Mayo Clinic.

Eucalyptus Oil

More research is needed to know the extent of health benefits provided by eucalyptus oil. However, MedlinePlus says early research shows promising results for the using eucalyptus oil for improvements in asthma, bronchitis, gingivitis, dental plaque and bad breath. However, always chat with your doctor before taking eucalyptus oil for ailments like asthma and bronchitis, as these conditions can lead to serious problems.

Peppermint Oil

You’ve probably heard about some of the health benefits peppermint oil has to offer. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says while more research is needed, peppermint oil may help improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and headaches. But ingesting too much peppermint oil can be toxic, and applying peppermint oil to the skin can lead to irritation and rashes. So always check in with your doctor first to establish a safe dosage.

Choosing Essential Oils

More research is needed to determine the extent of which using essential oils can benefit your health. However, many such oils appear to be helpful for a variety of health conditions and may be viable alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter medications.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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