What’s The Big Deal With Essential Oils And Do They Even Work?

Do you ever stop for a moment to smell the roses? Well, you should, because scent is a pretty remarkable thing.

Hang on a second and hold your ‘well, duh’ and hear us out -- our sense of smell plays a pivotal, but often underappreciated, role in how we experience our everyday life.

Think about it -- we don’t really consider just how important it is or the enormous amount of things it triggers -- memories, hunger and emotions to name a few.

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Bit Of History

Gather 'round. Here's a bit of background on when people starting using scents to heal and treat people. Many civilisations -- such as Egypt, China and India -- harnessed the power of scent by distilling the essence of plants and herbs into essential oils.

The benefits of oils were written about way back when in the first century and have been around ever since.

How Do You Get The Oil From The Plant?

Once the essence of the flower or the herb has been distilled into an oil, the scent can start getting it work. It does so by triggering the olfactory nerves, which run from our nose into our brain.

Although research is limited, small studies have found that some essential oils -- like lavender, for example -- may help to alleviate anxiety.

Meanwhile, other oils such a tea tree, have shown to be an effective ointment for acne. In fact, Meghan Markle has previously spoken about her love of the oil, telling Allure that “it’s the one thing I cannot live without when I’m travelling”.

What Works For What

To learn more about the remarkable power of scent, ten daily sat down with aromatherapy specialist and educator at Oil Garden, Pat Princi-Jones, who broke down what works for what.

“Pure essential oils are made up of hundreds of natural compounds that are extracted from specific plant parts,” she said.

“These properties, when inhaled or massaged onto the body may be capable of sedating, uplifting, stimulating and even arousing the senses.”

The properties Princi-Jones refers to are a mixture of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, alcohol, aldehydes, esters, ethers, ketones, oxides phenols and terpenes.

As each plant has a unique biochemical makeup -- each oil mixture also produces its own unique scent and properties.

What To Use To Power-Up Your Day

Princi-Jones recommends reaching for "invigorating oils such as Basil, Rosemary or Peppermint" to help give you a boost and increase your energy.

"Their vibrant, herbal aroma has been used for centuries for relieving fatigue and increasing vitality," she said. "Lemon may also help to give you a boost in energy levels and power-up your day."

Princi-Jones said there's a variety of oils out there to treat our problems. Source: Getty

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What To Use To Relax

Princi-Jones recommends we opt for "grounding, earthy wood scents such as Cedarwood and Frankincense" to help us de-stress at the end of a long day.

"You should also make sure to include ester-rich oils (these are oils oils have high levels of the compound linalool which is renowned for its sedative effect) such as Lavender and Chamomile," she said.

Interestingly, Princi-Jones also recommends adding a little citrus oil -- such as sweet orange, Bergamont and Mandarin -- which she said may help "reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm".

What To Use To Get Romantic

According to Princi-Jones, we should go for the "gentle florals" such as Roman Chamomile, Lavender and sweet citrus scents such as Orange and Mandarin.

If you really want to get the fire started, Princi-Jones said we should go for more "exotic florals such as Jasmine and Ylang Ylang, which she calls "arousing and intoxicating".

"The earthy, musky notes of Vetiver and Patchouli so also regarded as having an impact on the heart chakra," she said.

Princi-Jones said we should go for grounding, earthy wood scents to help us de-stress. Source: Getty
What To Use When You're Sad

For those days when we're feeling down in the dumps, Princi-Jones recommends "the deep grounding notes of Australian Sandalwood, Cedarwood and Vetiver, which have been softened by either sweet Orange oil or tempered with Bergamot."

She explains: "These oil reduce anxiety levels and heart rate. Also, Frankincense and Neroli are deeply healing and comforting. Studies have shown that you can lower your blood pressure simply inhaling Neroli oil."

The study Princi-Jones is referring to also found that inhalation of Neroli oil helps relieve menopausal symptoms, increase sexual desire, and reduce blood pressure in postmenopausal women and may have potential as an effective intervention to reduce stress and improve the endocrine system.

What To Use To Ward Off Sickness

According to Princi-Jones the best oils  to fight off illness include Lemon, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Oregano, Peppermint and Rosemary.

She explains that's all due to their "antimicrobial properties". She added that "a combination of Frankincense, Bergamot and lemon is also a great immune stimulant."

Another scent commonly used for its antibacterial benefits is sage -- which has long been used to help cleanse the air through the ritual of sage cleansing.

Feature Image: Getty