Essential oils: A gift of nature

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by Tajnim Imami

Essential oils are a wonder of nature that has aided humankind with their miraculous properties since time immemorial. These oils are highly concentrated natural plant extracts that are derived from leaves, fruits, flowers, stems, bark, roots and other parts of a plant. Throughout human civilization, they have been used in social and religious ceremonies, beauty care, food preparation and preservation, healing and soothing. In fact, the study of essential oil and aromatic plants for herbal and medical purposes has contributed greatly to today’s pharmaceuticals.

The controlled use of essential oil to promote the holistic healing of the mind, body and spirit is known as aromatherapy. It uses different combinations and techniques of application to get relief from ailments like headache, muscular pain, respiratory problems, skin ailments, swollen joints etc.

Rose carries the regal crown of beauty in the floral kingdom. Rose essential oil tones and cleanses. Adding a drop of rose oil into daily moisturizer cream can help prevent dry skin and moisturizes the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Peppermint oil has a distinctive, minty fresh aroma and induces a cool, calming effect when inhaled or topically used. Massaging it can soothe muscle pain and headache. The oil acts as a decongestant for the respiratory tract when used as a chest rub or inhaled through a vaporizer. Mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with shampoo can prevent dandruff and lice.

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Tea tree oil is also known as Melaleuca. Mix five drops of tea tree oil with raw honey and apply it to the skin as a mask for a minute to help reduce acne. Mixed with aloe vera gel, it can help get rid of dandruff and lice as well as treat psoriasis. When used with a diffuser or as a spray, it can help prevent mold around the house.

Lavender Essential oil is gentle yet excellent for treating scars acquired from both cuts and burns. In order to heal cracked heels, mix 3 drops of lavender oil with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Rub the mixture on feet and put on a pair of socks before going to bed. For a detox bath, mix a few drops of lavender oil with Epsom salt and sea salt to feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

Eucalyptus oil can be used overnight with a diffuser or a few drops during a steam bath can work wonders as decongestant for cold or flu. 2- 3 drops can be mixed with coconut or olive oil for hair care that can prevent dandruff and lice.

Lemongrass essential oil is very effective for acne and sore muscles. Add one drop of lemongrass oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil and apply the mixture on the acne affected area twice a day. For a clean, fresh look, add 3 tablespoons of bentonite clay (multani mati) to 1 teaspoon of almond oil and 3 drops of lemongrass oil and apply it on the face for fifteen minutes. To relax sore muscles, add 6 drops of lemongrass essential oil to 1 ounce of almond or jojoba oil and massage.

Patchouli Essential oil can help minimize the look of scars and strengthen hair and skin. Rubbing 2-3 drops of the oil on scar acquired from pox or acne can reduce their appearance. Adding 5-6 drops of the oil to shampoo or moisturizing lotion can prevent hair loss and dry, sagging skin. Taking 2 to 3 drops of the essential oil and rubbing it on the chest or temple can help calm the nerves and aid in falling asleep.

Bergamot essential oil can relieve stress, reduce tension and heal scars. Apply 5 drops of bergamot oil on a cotton pad to diminish scars or acne marks. It also distributes melanin evenly thus creating a toned, supple look for skin. Rubbing 5 drops of this oil onto sore muscle areas can relieve pain. When used with a diffuser bergamot essential oil can help calm the nerves and alleviate stress.

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Despite the rave reviews and seemingly unregulated use, essential oils must be used with caution. There are dangerous consequences if the oils are used improperly. Essential oils should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and on babies and toddlers without doctor’s consultation. Even adults may experience medical issues because the oils can often react with even the most common prescription drugs. In fact, essential oils are mostly used with carrier oils because they are highly concentrated and can cause rashes or permanent skin damage when used undiluted. Carrier oils are base or vegetable oil (coconut, olive, sunflower, peanut, almond etc) that can carry the essential oil onto the skin. Without proper application, essential oils like lemon or orange can make the skin very photosensitive and exposed to damage from UV rays. Ingesting essential oil is rare. If consumed, eucalyptus oil can cause seizures and mint oil can be poisonous. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use such oils after thorough research and with a doctor’s or a certified aromatherapy practitioner’s counsel.

* Essential oils are available across Dhaka at Almas, Jatra Biroti and Folk International

 

 

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