Essential oils are composed of very small molecules that can penetrate your cells, and some compounds in essential oils can even cross the blood-brain barrier. They differ from fatty oils (like those in vegetables or nuts) that come from large molecules as they are more easily absorbed.
For instance, most vegetable oils will stay on your skin and may even clog your pores because they are not small enough to get into your system whereas essential oils will soak right into your skin.
Essential oils placed anywhere on the body are “transdermal,” which means they can actually pass through your skin and into your circulatory system and cells.
These oils are typically used in four ways: topically, inhaled by using a diffuser, taken internally and used for personal care. Many essential oils are so powerful that when used topically or internally, they must be diluted with a carrier oil like olive, coconut or jojoba oil.
Because of the incredible ability of essential oils to travel through the body and air, even diffusing essential oils can have great health benefits. Think about how powerful the scent of these oils are.
An example would be if you had peppermint leaves in your kitchen. Could you smell them from 10 feet away? Probably not. But if you are diffusing peppermint, cinnamon or oregano essential oils, you can smell them throughout most of your home!
That’s because the volatile compounds in essential oils can pass from the air into your olfactory system. Your olfactory system, which is your sense of smell, is connected directly to your brain and what you smell can go into your cells and your bloodstream within seconds.
This is great for times when your children are not feeling well, as you can simply diffuse essential oils of clove and frankincense in the air and support their immune system through olfaction.
Once in your system, these oil compounds have the ability to protect and support your body in various ways. Promoting health by means of your olfactory system is why using essential oils has been referred to as aromatherapy.
It’s important to mention that dried herbs and medicinal tinctures also have health-promoting properties. For instance, ground ginger root, cinnamon and echinacea have many health benefits. Also, consuming healthy foods such as vegetables and fresh herbs can support overall wellness. But in terms of compounds that have the strongest concentrated health-promoting properties, none of these are as powerful as essential oils.