What Do Essential Oils Do and How Are They Used?

Page content

Essential oils are the essence that’s extracted from a plant, commonly the flowers, leaves, fruit or stems. The essence is extracted from the plant using a process called distillation. There are numerous types of distillation processes that can be used, such as steaming, cold pressing and solvent extraction. After the essence is extracted, it’s then bottled and sold commercially for the many health benefits achieved from the use of essential oils. What do essential oils do? Well, depending on how they are used, different benefits can be acquired. Essential oils are used for various reasons, including relaxation, skin and hair benefits or respiratory benefits.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils work by either applying them to the skin, inhaling or ingesting; however, ingesting essential oils isn’t recommended. These oils are often applied topically to the skin for a wide range of health benefits, including relief from arthritis, acne treatment and eczema relief. The ingredients found within the oils are absorbed through the skin, producing effective results.

Essential oils can be inhaled as well, either thru the nose or mouth, typically using a diffuser. Inhaling these oils interact with the respiratory system, often improving coughs. Fatigue and nausea can be relieved as well, which often respond to a person’s sense of smell. Scents that enter the body affect certain organs or cells that contribute to the sense of smell, producing the health benefits.

Ingesting essential oils isn’t recommended in the U.S because it takes a special knowledge of the oils to safely ingest them. While it’s commonly practiced in France, ingesting essential oils can be very harmful. Some oils can cause damage to the liver and kidney when ingested. Some may even interact poorly with conventional medications. During the gastric processing of the essential oils, the chemical breakdown of certain oils can become altered, producing dangerous side effects.


Peppermint is considered to be among the top essential oils to use. Peppermint is used to relieve headaches and muscle aches. Many digestive disorders, such as indigestion and flatulence, benefit from peppermint use.


Eucalyptus is another essential oil commonly used, which treats respiratory problems often associated with colds. It can relieve coughs and asthma and is believed to boost the immune system. It’s often used to treat muscle tension.


Lavender is commonly used as well because it produces relaxing benefits, plus, can be used to treat wounds. It’s also used for skin and burn care. Many use lavender for balancing hormones and as a natural antidepressant.


Lemon is used for natural house cleaning as well as deodorizing, while producing relaxing benefits. Although lemon is relaxing, it’s also said to be uplifting. It’s often used to treat wounds and infections.


Rosemary is a common essential oil because it’s very stimulating for both mental concentration and the immune system. Rosemary can benefit the digestive system and is used to treat muscle tension and muscle aches.


“Top 10 Essential Oils” https://www.naha.org/top_10.htm

“What are essential oils?” https://www.deancoleman.com/whatareoils.htm

“How Do Essential Oils Work?” https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/how-do-essential-oils-work