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Essential Oils: Benefits & Ways of Use

by Maria Kirmanidou, Dietitian & Sport Nutritionist

17 May 2024 • 0 min read

We've all heard about essential oils and whenever we hear about them, suddenly spring scents come to our mind. Apart from aromatherapy and their popular use in massage, essential oils have been used since ancient times, exhibiting a very wide range of actions - from their powerful antimicrobial action in dermatology and the treatment of common infections to aromatherapy, soap making, as a main ingredient in cleaning formulations to their use in a multitude of commercial perfumes and cosmetic products.

Let's get to know better the beautiful and fragrant world of essential oils.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are volatile substances that are isolated from certain aromatic plants. More than 4000 bioactive substances have been identified in aromatic plants, which exhibit numerous properties in the human body, properties directly derived from nature. The composition of essential oils, in terms of its bioactive constituents, varies greatly not only between different aromatic plants, but also from plant to plant, as it depends on various factors such as the variety of the plant, the composition of the soil, as well as the climate in which it thrives.
Essential oils are usually extracted by the process of cold pressing or distillation with water or steam of the aromatic plant from which they are derived. In order to extract a small quantity of essential oil, a very large quantity of the aromatic plant from which it is derived is required, which is why they contain plenty of concentrated active ingredients. Therefore, due to its high content of active ingredients, it should be used in a specific way, safely and responsibly, and always according to the manufacturer's instructions. Moreover, most of the essential oils cannot be ingested and the ones that be inhaled, it should be well defined in the packaging.

Properties of essential oils

Before we dive into the multiple uses of essential oils, let's get to know the benefits of the most popular essential oils.
Lavender. Antimicrobial & anti-anxiety action. Greatly used for promoting better sleep.
Rosemary. Insect-repellent action. In addition, it acts against hair loss and provides anti-inflammatory action.
Eucalyptus. Antiseptic and antimicrobial action.
Sandalwood. Known for its sedative properties, as it acts against anxiety & in favor of a better quality sleep.
Bergamot & Orange. Citrus essential oils improve mood and offer a unique freshness scent.

Be aware of not using citrus essential oils in the daylight, as they are sensitive to sunlight and may cause skin irritation.

Citronella. Insect-repellent and antimicrobial action.
Tea Tree. Antiseptic, antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory action.
Patchouli. One of the most common essential oils in perfume industry, as it offers a sense of freshness and rejuvenation.
Ginger. Insect-repellent action as well as anti-nausea action.

Suggested ways of use

  • Cosmetic use. A natural way of moisturizing the skin is to use essential oil diluted in a base oil. As an alternative to body cream, you can dilute rose and/or geranium essential oil (total) in sweet almond base oil to nourish, firm and smooth your skin.
  • Action against hair loss. Rosemary essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils for strengthening hair growth in men and women. Try diluting castor oil with rosemary essential oil and massage into the scalp 20 minutes before your daily shower.
  • Use in Massage. The use of base oils is very prevalent in massage services, as base oils are more permeable to the skin, compared to the traditional body cream. Adding the appropriate amount of lavender, chamomile or sandalwood essential oil contributes to even more relaxation, due to the stress-relieving active ingredients they contain.
  • Natural Insect Repellent. Summer is just around the corner and along with the heat, our "beloved" friends don't let us enjoy our afternoon coffee on the beach. So this year, instead of the classic mosquito spray, try applying sweet almond base oil topically, with lemongrass or lemon/eucalyptus or citronella essential oil... and you will not regret it! For best results, use a combination of essential oils, as different essential oils seem to repel different kind of insects.
  • Natural Air Freshener. One of the most popular uses of essential oils is aromatherapy. They can be diluted in water through diffusers, or diluted in water in a spray bottle so that you can spray certain parts of the house, such as curtains. 10 drops per litre of water are enough to provide the desired freshness scent in your room. In addition, you can add 1-2 drops of essential oil of your choice to small pieces of cotton, which you can “store” in pouches. But why? Because you can place them in wardrobes and drawers, as natural fresheners, as well as in the bottom of the toilet bin, so as to combat unpleasant odors.
Holland & Barrett provides a very wide range of excellent-quality cold-pressed essential oils from Miaroma & Tisserand. The fact that essential oils can be used for multiple purposes is an extra proof that nature provides us with holistic solutions for every need. Choose your favorite fragrances and create your own unique combinations.
We are waiting for your feedback!

Scientific References

Adorjan, B., & Buchbauer, G. (2010). Biological properties of essential oils: an updated review. Flavour and fragrance journal, 25(6), 407-426.

Orchard, A., & van Vuuren, S. (2017). Commercial essential oils as potential antimicrobials to treat skin diseases. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017.

Ramsey, J. T., Shropshire, B. C., Nagy, T. R., Chambers, K. D., Li, Y., & Korach, K. S. (2020). Focus: Plant-based medicine and pharmacology: Essential oils and health. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 93(2), 291.

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