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5 Essential Oil Uses & Benefits

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. Because of their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral and calming properties, essential oils are recently gaining popularity as a natural, safe and cost-effective therapy for a number of health concerns.

1. Balance Hormones

There are essential oils for hormones that can help to balance your estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid and testosterone levels.

Some oils, like clary sage, geranium and thyme, help to balance out estrogen and progesterone levels in your body, which can improve conditions like infertility and PCOS, as well as PMS and menopause symptoms. A 2017 published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters indicates that some essential oils, notably geranium and rose, have the ability to influence the salivary concentration of estrogen in women. This may be helpful for women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms that are caused by declining levels of estrogen secretion. (2)

Essential oils are also able to lower cortisol levels, which can help to improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression, and increase testosterone levels, which can improve a man’s libido. (3)

2. Boost Immunity & Fight Infections

Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that help to boost your immune system and fight infections. The chemical substances found in essential oils, such as terpenes, esters, phenolics, ethers and ketones, have the potential to fight foreign pathogens that can threaten your health. Some of the best essential oils for your immunity include oregano, myrrh, ginger, lemon, eucalyptus, frankincense, peppermint (or Mentha piperita) and cinnamon.

Studies have shown that essential oils effectively destroy several fungal, viral and bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori and Candida albicans infections. Because antibiotic resistance is becoming such a major threat in modern health care, using essential oils as a form of independent or combination therapy can help to fight bacterial infections in a safer and more natural way.  (4, 5)

Oregano oil, for instance, has powerful immune-boosting properties and has displayed both antiviral and antibacterial properties in lab studies. Oregano oil contains carvacrol and thymol, two compounds that have antimicrobial effects and can inhibit the synthesis and growth of several types of bacteria. (6)

3. Support Digestion

Another well-researched essential oils benefit is their role in aiding and improving digestion. Some oils help to relieve upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach spasms and even conditions of the gastrointestinal system, like IBS. Essential oils can also aid your digestion by helping to stimulate digestive enzymes that make it easier to break down and absorb the nutrients, fats and protein that you need.

Ginger essential oil, for example, is known to promote your digestive health by easing indigestion, constipation and ulcers. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that ginger oil stimulated gastric emptying in people with indigestion. Ginger oil is also used to relieve gas, reduce nausea and ease abdominal pain. (7)

Another useful essential oil for digestion is peppermint. Research shows that peppermint oil works to provide rapid relief of IBS symptoms. In a 4-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 72 patients with IBS received either peppermint oil or placebo. The peppermint group experienced a 40 percent reduction in total IBS symptoms after 4 weeks, which was superior to the 24 percent decrease of symptoms reported by the patients in the placebo group. After just 24 hours of using peppermint oil, the treatment group experienced a decrease in symptoms of 19.6 percent. (8)

Some other essential oils that are helpful for digestion include fennel, lemongrass, marjoram, black pepper and juniper berry.

4. Boost Energy Levels

Did you know that essential oils can help to boost your energy levels and even improve your athletic performance? Some oils have stimulating effects and can actually increase oxygen to your brain, which will leave you feeling refreshed, focused and energized.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that peppermint oil increased brain oxygen concentration, improved exercise performance and reduced exhaustion in healthy male athletes who consumed peppermint oil with water for 10 days. (9)

Some other great essential oils for energy include grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus and rosemary.

5. Improve Brain Function

Essential oils have neuroprotective effects and can help to improve cognitive performance. This is one of the most impressive essential oil benefits and it has helped many people who are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In a scientific review published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers found that because essential oils possess powerful antioxidants that work to inhibit free radical scavenging, they help to naturally improve brain function and reduce inflammation.

Essential oils have also shown to improve learning, memory and ability to focus. Both stimulating and sedative essential oils can be useful, as oils like peppermint can improve sustained attention over a longer period of time, while oils like lavender can be useful for people going through tough exercises or situations. Furthermore, essential oils can be useful in relieving agitation in individuals with dementia. This is due to their calming and sedative effects. (10)

 


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