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Monday, April 28, 2014

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Essential Guide to Lesser-Known Essential Oils

Team - 4:05 AM

Many people are familiar, at least somewhat, with the healing properties of lavender, peppermint and tea tree essential oils – for good reason, as these oils offer a great deal of benefit. However, there are a multitude of essential oils out there that do not receive as much attention, and many people are unaware that some of them even exist.

We wanted to create a sampling of five essential oils that you may not know much about. The following five oils, while lesson common, can put a new spin on your aromatherapy sessions, and may do wonders for your health via massage and pressure point applications.

Some of these oils can be used internally, provided you choose a food-grade, high quality variety, however, it is safest to consult a natural health professional before going this route.

Bergamot

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) essential oil is extracted from the bergamot citrus fruit, which is widely grown in the Mediterranean region and thought to be a hybrid of either lemon or citron and sour orange. It has a sweet citrus scent, and when used in aromatherapy, it can help alleviate depression, reduce stress and boost overall mood.

This oil has antiseptic properties, and is great for skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and oily skin. It can also be used to disinfect minor wounds and cold sores. When applied topically, or used as a dietary supplement, it can stimulate digestion, and also boost liver and spleen function, encouraging the body’s natural detoxification processes.

Additionally, bergamot essential oil has been proven to possess antibacterial properties. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology tested the effects of several essential oils and essential oil vapors against various forms of bacteria, including Staphyloccocus aureus, E. coli and Campylobacter jeujuni.

The authors wrote, “bergamot was the most effective of the oils tested… Results suggest the possibility that citrus EOs [essential oils], particularly bergamot, could be used as a way of combating the growth of common causes of food poisoning.”

Note: Consult a health professional before using bergamot if you are pregnant. Do not expose skin that has received an application of bergamot to direct sunlight for 48 hours.

Cistus

Cistus (Cistus ladanifer) essential oil comes from the leaves and branches of the flowering plant also known as rock rose, labdanum and Rose of Sharon. It has a sweet aroma reminiscent of honeyed fruit, and is wonderful in aromatherapy for its calming, centering properties that can help you let go of built-up, unresolved tension.

Cistus has antiseptic, astringent and antimicrobial properties, and is effective at stopping minor bleeding and disinfecting wounds. It may also help to ease hemorrhoids and aid in healing bruises. It is also sometimes used as an anti-aging serum, as it can help to improve the look of skin, smooth wrinkles and reduce the appearance of scar tissue.

This fragrant oil is known as an immune system stimulator, and can help to fight off colds, coughs and flus, as well as urinary tract and bladder infections. It has also been traditionally used to normalize menstrual bleeding, improve circulation and ease various types of inflammation and tension.

A 1997 study published in the journal Plant Disease found that extracts of Cistus ladanifer displayed antifungal activity against Botrytis cinerea spores. Botrytis cinerea is a type of plant fungus which causes gray mold on various types of crops, most commonly grapes.

Note: Cistus is a very gentle oil, however, internal use is not recommended for children under six years of age.

Cedarwood

Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) essential oil is steam distilled from the wood of the Cedar tree. This oil has a warming, uplifting, woody scent, and is a great oil to use for meditation. Native Americans traditionally used this oil in various spiritual practices; it can be very grounding and calming to the nervous system.

This essential oil is a great skincare companion, as it can help control excess skin oil. It can also help to clear up acne and dermatitis. Cedarwood has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and using it in massage can help to ease the pain of arthritis and rheumatism, as well as soothe sore joints and muscles after a workout.

It also has anti-spasmodic properties, which contribute to the alleviation of asthma, as well as restless leg syndrome. The sedative properties of cedarwood can help to curb insomnia and provide a deeper, more restful sleep. This oil may also help to lower blood pressure.

Cedarwood has also been used for detoxification of the blood, regulating menstruation, and relieving coughs and congestion. When using it as part of a massage or before meditation, try rubbing it on the bottoms of your feet for a feeling of all-around calm and connection to the earth.

Note: Cedarwood oil is not to be taken internally. Pregnant women should not use this oil.

Juniper

Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum, or Juniperus osteosperma) essential oil is obtained by steam-distilling the fruits, needles and wood of the juniper tree. It has a crisp, earthy aroma, and has significant properties in detoxification. One of its methods of detox is attained by inducing sweat, which allows certain toxins to be released through the skin’s pores. In this way, it can aid in a healthy complexion.

This essential oil has diuretic properties, and is linked to urinary tract health, as well as detoxifying heavy metals and uric acid from the body. It is anti-inflammatory in nature, and has been used to improve circulation. Juniper oil can also help to relieve various types of cramping, including menstrual cramps, and its aroma stimulates the nervous system, helping to relieve depression and fatigue.

A 2003 study published in Phytotherapy Research found that juniper essential oil possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Note: This oil may be harsh to sensitive skin, and should thus be diluted. It should not be used by small children, pregnant women or individuals with kidney problems.

Marjoram

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) essential oil comes from the leaves of the marjoram plant, which is native to the Mediterranean region and is often used as a spice in recipes. It has a slightly spicy, potent aroma, and is warming and soothing in both aromatherapy and massage. It is associated with supporting cognitive health, and may also help to relieve headaches, especially those caused by tension.

When used in a massage, marjoram can ease the pain of sore muscles. It may also help to relieve other types of pain, caused by inflammation, seasonal illnesses or other causes. This oil has antispasmodic properties, and can alleviate cramps and muscle spasms, making it a great workout companion.

Marjoram helps to improve circulation, and may expand the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure as well as the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also improve digestion, and helps relieve digestive ailments such as nausea and stomach discomfort.

This oil has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. A 2005 study published in Food Research International found that extracts of marjoram were effective in combating food-borne bacteria and fungus. It is sometimes diluted and used as a flavoring in cooking.

Note: Marjoram essential oil should be diluted, and should not be used on small children or pregnant women.

The above-mentioned oils are just a small taste of the vast array of essential oils just waiting to be discovered. Next time you are picking up a bottle of your go-to oil, ask about an essential oil you’ve never heard of. It could become your new favorite.

The Alternative Daily

Sources:
http://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/essential-oils/singles/bergamot-essential-oil
http://www.citrusvariety.ucr.edu/citrus/bergamot.html
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http://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1094/PDIS.1997.81.2.204
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http://yourbodyneeds.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/julys-essential-oil-of-the-month-cedarwood
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https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/essential-oils/singles/juniper-essential-oil
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http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996904001681


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