Plant-based oils often carry the scent of the plant. Plants may use them to attract insects, but people have found numerous uses for them as well. Some can be used in skin care, while others may be used for relaxation or to improve digestion.
What Are Essential Oils?
The volatile aromatic compounds found in plants have been used in healing traditions that reach back thousands of years. Frankincense and myrrh, so familiar from the Bible story of the Magi, contain essential oils. So does Vicks VapoRub.
Using Essential Oils:
People take enteric-coated peppermint oil to ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It is very effective. Lavender oil, on the other hand, is usually used topically or as aromatherapy to ease depression, calm anxiety, promote sleep and treat skin blemishes. Tea tree oil, from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia, has antibacterial and antifungal activity. It can be used against acne, athlete’s foot or vaginal yeast infections.
Essential oils are potent, so they should be diluted in a carrier oil before you apply them to the skin. For a 2 percent dilution, add 10 or 12 drops of the oil to the carrier oil, which could be almond oil or another oil you would use in cooking. For delicate skin, a 0.5 percent dilution is preferable: add just two or three drops to an ounce of carrier oil.
Be careful not to put any citrus oils on the skin before going out in the sun. That could result in a bad burn.
Tune in to learn how to use essential oils to improve your health.
This Week’s Guests:
Tieraona Low Dog, MD, is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements, herbal medicine and women’s health.
Dr. Low Dog is a founding member of the American Board of Physician Specialties, American Board of Integrative Medicine and the Academy of Women’s Health. She has served as Chair of the US Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplements/Botanicals Expert Committee.
Her books include: Women’s Health in Complementary and Integrative Medicine; Life Is Your Best Medicine; and Healthy at Home. Her latest is Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and More. For more information, see her website: drlowdog.com
Stacey Brower is a physician assistant in the Department of Surgery at Duke University Hospital.
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