I looked at your blog and thought that it would be great if you could add some feedback on natural/essential oils. Just a thought! I could help … I’m an exclusive NATURAL/ORGANIC user when it comes to cosmetics!!
When we look at 18th century American women and laugh about how they applied pig fat to the skin, I think someday our great-grandchildren will be in similar awe of our laid-back attitude when it comes to essential oils.
Essential oils have amongst the highest medicinal properties you can get over-the-counter. Some believe essential oils free the body of harmful toxins. While I would say that statement is going a little far, numerous studies have proven some essential oils, like lemon, tea tree, and fennel, have anti-bacterial properties (Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2001).
However, there are three important facts you need to keep in mind when selecting an essential oil for use:
1. Not all essential oils are pure.
The benefits you read about essential oils are from use of purified essential oils. Unfortunately, when you buy a bottle of essential oil from a store, it is usually not as pure as essential oils directly from an alternative medicine practitioner. This occurs for two reasons:
- 1.) Chemical preservatives are often added to bottled essential oils, in order to ensure a longer shelf-life.
- 2.) The mode of oil extraction from the plant may not be carefully regulated. Due to the mode of extraction, usually distillation, essential oils may contain a variety of volatile molecules such as terpenes and terpenoids, phenol-derived aromatic components and aliphatic components (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008).
2. Essential oils can be pro-oxidant.
Most people consider essential oils to be antioxidants because of their effects on cell assays outside the body, or in vitro. However, within the body, essential oils actually increase free radical production within the cells (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008). Granted, essential oils are non-genotoxic, so the free radical production is not significant enough to harm cellular DNA (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008). Still, I would be wary of applying essential oils before going out in the sun.
3. Essential oils make all of your other skin care ingredients penetrate the skin more deeply.
Documented scientific studies have noted essential oils penetrate deeply into the skin, increasing the absorption of other ingredients up to 30-fold (International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 1989). Increasing the depth of ingredient absorption in the skin is the same reason propylene glycol is used in transdermal patches: It keeps the other ingredients in your system longer. The problem is, essential oils are purchased over-the-counter and can be readily used with any number of potentially harmful or irritating ingredients. Until we know more, I would not combine essential oil use with any other skin care formula.
Essential oils show how important it is for twenty-first century physicians to understand patient use of alternative medicines. To protect yourself until more studies on essential oils are conducted, try the following:
- Purchase essential oils fresh, or from a trusted alternative medicine practitioner.
- Do not combine essential oils with other skin care ingredients.
- Do not use essential oils before going out into the sun.
After doing reading for this article, I must say, I am reluctant to use essential oils myself! I’m looking forward to learning what the western medical and scientific community discovers about essential oils in the years to come.
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Founder and CEO Nicki Zevola started FutureDerm as a medical (M.D.) student studying to be a dermatologist. She is an award-winning scientific researcher and writer. She currently is concentrating on FutureDerm and developing FutureDerm's one-of-a-kind products. She can be found on Google+ and Twitter.View all Nicki Zevola posts.
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