You hear an essential oil is good for back pain but how do you know, better yet how do the aromatherapists and oil enthusiasts know? That is a great question! Essential oils have different components based on their chemical make up, yep all oils and basically everything else on the planet has a chemical make up, some we just may want to avoid based on their ability to be toxic but that's another post all together. These chemical components have been studied and based on that and of course years and years of use we have ideas of what people "historically" used certain oils or herbs for for 100's of years. While it's likely way, way back in the day folks used oil infusions not the same distilled versions we use today but you get the idea :)
In the aromatherapy and medical world we use these terms to describe what an oil might be able to assist with and when it might be an appropriate choice for a specific ailment. I thought many of you might benefit from me sharing these terms to help you navigate some of jargon.
Therapeutic properties Terms ( this is not a complete list but the most common)
Analgesic — numbs pain.
Antibacterial — destructive to bacteria.
Antifungal — inhibits growth of fungus.
Anti-inflammatory — alleviates inflammation.
Antiseptic — assists in fighting germs/infections.
Antispasmodic — relieves spasms of voluntary and involuntary muscles.
Anti-tumoral — preventing the initiation, promotion and progression of cancer cells.
Antirheumatic — prevents and/or relieves rheumatic pain and swelling.
Antiviral — inhibits growth of viruses.
Astringent — firms tissue and organs; reduces discharges and secretions.
Carminative — relieves intestinal gas pain and distention; promotes peristalsis.
Cicatrisant — cell-regenerative for skin, healing for scars.
Decongestant — reduces nasal mucus production and swelling.
Diuretic — promotes activity of kidney and bladder and increases urination.
Emetic — induces vomiting.
Expectorant — promotes discharge of phlegm and mucus from the lungs and throat.
Immune stimulant — stimulates functioning of the immune system.
Mucolytic — breaks down mucus (pulmonary).
Sedative — calms and tranquilizes by lowering the functional activity of the organ or body part.
Stimulant — increases functional activity of specific organ or system.
Tonic — strengthens and restores vitality.
Vasodilator — helps to dilate blood vessels.
As you can see knowing you need a decongestant oil you can find oils that have that as one of their properties and use that in a blend of steam to reduce your congestion. Maybe using an oil with Analgesic, or pain relieving properties would be helpful to you to reduce your back pain or a sedative to sleep or reduce your anxiety. Now many essential oils and plants have the ability to do more than one thing, they do many, many things. Lavender is one of those that has many therapeutic properties and is therefore used in many different types of blends and products.
Our Muscle soothing blends tend to be made with oils that have been shown to have antispasmodic (spasm reducing), Analgesic (pain relieving) or anti-inflammatory properties so that they can soothe muscle, joint and tendon related complaints. Our Mood enhancing or as I love to call Happy Oils might use oils that are relaxing and sedating to the nervous system to reduce that anxiety response, or maybe have properties that are antidepressant and so on.
Whether you are a DIY oiler or not this information helps you to understand of the terms you might hear regarding oils and what that can mean for you and your health needs. Essential oils can do many things, some are great for pain, illness, headaches, congestion and more so find a few you love and learn how they can change your world. I'd love to hear your favorite oil and why you love to use it so be sure to share in the comments below and if you have any questions as always ask away!
Happy Oiling :)
Please Note: We make no claims that essential oils can cure or heal you of these types of conditions. This list is more of a glossary and the oils thay have properties to help reduce these symtpoms are from studies done on the chemical components and their therapeutic benefits of various essential oils.