Plants have been a great help to mankind since the beginning of time. Every part of a plant, from its roots to its leaves, seeds, fruits and flowers, can be used in a variety of ways, such as for food, medicine and even as everyday tools. Thanks to their incredible physical and chemical properties, we continue to rely on plants to this day to supply our needs. Plants provide a suitable alternative to many things, such as processed foods and conventional medicines. In fact, plants are way healthier and more nutritious than processed foods and are far safer to use than modern medicines.
According to a 2015 study, around 100,000 people die each year because of the adverse effects of conventional, supposedly “safe” over-the-counter drugs. In the United States, synthetic drug toxicity accounts for 8% of hospital admissions. In comparison, hospitalizations or deaths due to the side effects of natural (plant-based) medicines are extremely rare. This is why more and more people are turning to herbs and other natural remedies to resolve their health issues in the form essential oils.
Why you should stock up on essential oils
Essential oils are plant extracts derived by distilling or cold pressing select parts of a medicinal plant. Because doing so produces a highly concentrated oil that contains all the scent and flavor compounds of a plant, essential oils have a much stronger smell and taste than their plant sources.
According to a study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, essential oils are made up of a mixture of hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, oxides, phenols and terpenes. Aside from giving essential oils their distinct odors, these active compounds also possess beneficial properties that make them such potent natural remedies.
Aside from being used as traditional remedies, essential oils can serve other purposes. For instance, some essential oils like lemon essential oil and tea tree oil have excellent natural cleansing properties, which is why they’re often used in household cleaning products. Other essential oils like pine, bergamot and peppermint are natural insect repellents, so you’ll find them in topical or aromatic bug sprays. Meanwhile, essential oils like cinnamon, lavender and rosemary contain compounds that can help eliminate bad odors and freshen the air in your home when diffused.
Some essential oils can also be used in small quantities for cooking. Essential oils extracted from culinary herbs like oregano, thyme and basil are actually used as flavor substitutes. However, these essential oils are processed differently from those intended as natural remedies to make them safe for consumption. If you want to use essential oils as culinary ingredients, make sure you get oils that are clean and food grade.
Thanks to their versatility and medicinal properties, essential oils are great items to include in your cupboard. They are easy to store and have a long shelf life. Depending on the compounds they contain, pure essential oils (no carrier oils mixed) can last from three to 15 years when stored properly.
Next time you will learn about the 6 must-have essential oils: lavender, sweet orange, lemon, oregano, peppermint and cinnamon bark.