What are essential oils and how are they used?

What are essential oils and how are they used?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - You might hear someone swear by essential oils to knock out a cold or reduce stress or inflammation. If the fact that you can find an aromatherapy diffuser in just about any store now is an indication, more people are turning to essential oils.

"They can be used for physical and emotional support," Jennifer Tremblay told us.  Tremblay is a certified holistic health coach and about four years ago she turned her studies toward essential oils.

She isn't making any medical claims and she isn't a doctor.  She says she just really believes in the oils, so much so that she's started to educate others and sell them.

"They work.  I've seen them work for all kinds of things.  I use them and they make a difference," Tremblay said.

She suggests lavender to help with sleep, frankincense to reduce inflammation and oils like cinnamon and clove to boost the immune system.

There are three ways to use essential oils:

Aromatically by using a diffuser or by placing a drop in the hand and breathing in the scent, topically by putting a drop on your skin or on the bottom of the feet where the pores are larger, or by ingesting them in food or on their own.  In each case, especially with ingesting the products, you must do extensive research first to see which are safe for each method and for you.

According to its website, the FDA says how aromatherapy products are regulated depends 'mainly on how they are intended to be used.'

It goes on to say...

"Sometimes people think that if an essential oil or other ingredient comes from a plant, it must be safe.  But many plants contain materials that are toxic, irritating, or likely to cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin."

Tremblay agrees you do have to be careful when using the products.

"Not all essential oils are created equal.  You can even buy them in gas stations but in many cases these are just fragrances and most are synthetic with no medicinal properties.  They can be toxic.  There are two main considerations when deciding on a brand and that is potency and purity," Tremblay said.

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