A couple of weeks ago, we introduced the science behind aromatherapy. Now, we are going to take a look at some of the more popular essential oils and why you should use them for different ailments.
One of the most popular is orange essential oil. Just think about it. Make believe you are peeling a fresh orange.
There’s a mist that spritzes you as you separate the flesh of the fruit from the peel. You inhale a sweet, yet tangy scent that tickles your nostrils. Then there’s that inevitable smile this memory creates. That smile right there is all because of the oils that live within the orange’s peel.
Essential oils have been used for centuries for many therapeutic uses. Lavender oil was used to treat inflammations caused by burns. Sage oil was used in cleansing ceremonies held by various religions. Orange oil was used by Christoper Columbus and his crew to fight off scurvy.
As we mentioned in the Science Behind Aromatherapy article, all fruits and vegetables developed scent as a evolutionary defense mechanism. Over time, all living things grew chemicals called terpenes. Terpenes are a variety of chemicals that together are responsible for all living things’ scents.
In the case of fruits and vegetables, terpenes are intended to attract pollinators to insure the growth of the species.
Terpenes also work to repel predators and pests that may cause the species to grow extinct.
In the case of essential oils, within those terpenes are thousands of chemicals that have therapeutic benefits that both the environment and the human race can all benefit from. Here is how essential oils become available for our everyday use.
The Creation of Orange Essential Oil
As you peel back the orange and smell the sweet, tangy scent, you are inhaling the aroma of the oils within the orange peel. In order for it to become bottled and readily available for therapeutic uses, the essence of the oil must be extracted from the peel.
This is done through a process called steam distillation.
When you envision steam, you think of heat. However, heating an orange peel will change the chemical properties within. Much like when you are heating raw meat. When you cook it, it becomes edible. From there, if you freeze it, the cooked meat will maintain its integrity. For that same reason, orange oil is extracted through the method of cold-pressing.
During the cold-pressing process, the rind of an orange is rolled over a trough that is composed of many sharp projections. These razor-like teeth pierce open the peel, opening up pockets that contain essential oils.
After the peel becomes puncture, extreme pressure is mechanically induced onto the fruit, forcing out the rest of the oil. The released oils are then separated from the rinds and effectively bottled.
The Chemicals Within Orange Essential Oil
Just like ourselves, the dining room table, and the trees outside, everything contains matter. There are millions upon millions of chemical reactions between all of the elements in this world that make everything unique from one another. These reactions are what makes the difference between a red delicious, granny smith, and fuji apples.
However, these reactions are also what makes an apple different from a horse different from a human.
By the mere fact that we know orange juice is laden with Vitamin C, it is a given that oranges are full of many healthy chemicals. Although eating them is how we are custom to reaping the benefits of oranges, we can also inhale them through aromatherapy for a more direct connection to the brain.
Using orange essential oils may be therapeutic for the following ailments:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Collagen Elasticity
- Heart Palpitations
- Sore Throat
When we inhale the scent of essential oils, we are inhaling the chemical compounds within those aromatic molecules. Here are the active chemicals within organic orange essential oil:
This chemical comprises 95% of orange essential oil, and is mainly responsible for the citrusy nodes associated with oranges. Limonene is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of orange essential oil. This hydrocarbon suppresses cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory proteins inside of macrophages. A macrophage is a type of white cold cell that has the unenviable task of cleaning up cellular debris. This include inflammations that are precursors to cancer cells.
Although not as plentiful as limonene, a-pinene is also a terpene-producing chemical responsible for the scent of oranges. A-pinene also acts as a bronchodilator. These are vehicles that open up airways which are restricted throughout the body.
Typically these sorts of restrictions happen when you are battling ailments such as a severe cold that is complicated by a case of chest congestion.
Opening up airways also opens up pathways to the brain. Therefore, a-pinene gives orange essential oil properties such as memory-boosting capabilities and increased concentration.
This is a common ingredient found in a lot of perfumes for it’s surprisingly floral nodes…which is something you probably wouldn’t even notice when smelling an orange peel.
Linaolool is also effective in soothing pain. As you inhale linalool, it reduces the build up of Glutamate receptors. These receptors can either act as our brain’s best friend or worst enemy.
Glutamate receptors live all throughout the body, but the majority of them lie in the central nervous system. Their function is to regulate all the neurons that are attempting to send signals to the brain. Essentially, these receptors act as a filter to ensure that the brain doesn’t become cluttered with useless nonsense.
The problem with glutamate is that when it becomes over stimulated, it works almost in an opposite way as its intended to. An overabdunance of glutamate may result in excitotoicity. This is the destruction of nerve cells. Loss of neerve cells can lead to very serious conditions including, but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, strokes, and elipespy.
In the case of epilepsy, the essential oils found in linalool,
“Inhibits the binding of [3H]glutamate and [3H]dizocilpine to brain cortical membranes.”
Mycrene is a hydrocarbon terpene that is responsible for the spicy kick found in essential oils. It’s also the reason why oranges and cinnamon pair so wear together in food and beverages.
A study using lemongrass tea found that rats who were induced with hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain) felt less pain following the administration of lemongrass tea. After the procedure, the compounds were separated. Results showed that the chemical most prominent within the oils of the lemongrass tea was myrcene.
This word probably sounds familiar. When you are trying to keep bugs at bay, you light a citronella candle.
That is because the bugs are repelled by the smell. As we mentioned earlier, terpenes were created to make odors that repel pests. This makes orange essential oil an eco-friendly bug deterrent that does not contain harmful chemicals such as DEET.
On top of fighting off bugs, citronellal also has anti-fungal properties. Within 10 days of contact, cintronellal has been shown to kill all traces of fungal spores.
Last but certainly not least is the monoterpenoid know as geranial. This chemical is used commonly in perfumes. However, it is also used in processed foods when creating peach, plum, lime, and orange flavors. Like citronellal, geranial is also an effective mosquito repllent.
Using Essential Oils
It is easy to seamlessly incorporate essential oils into your everyday life. In particular, orange oil can be ingested if diluted. Feel free to add a few drops to a tea or to bake some muffins using the oils as a natural orange flavor.
Orange oil is a great compliment to any muscle soak bath to work out aches and pains. You can also dilute the oil with thicker oils such as jojoba oil and avocado oil to make lotions that will improve your mood and your collagen. Lastly, you can diffuse it throughout the room to not only disinfect your living quarters, but to also add a bit of focus to you day. Maybe then you will tackle that mountain of laundry and scrub those toilets like you’ve been meaning to do.