We often see testimonials about the benefits of using essential oils for health, though sometimes, health professionals dismiss them as ‘quack medicine.’ But the fact is, these naturally derived products work more in harmony with our bodies than medications with questionable side effects, the drug companies just don’t want you to know! Naturally derived products have been used in different cultures for thousands of years but modern science has only just caught on.
What is an essential oil?
An essential oil is made from the essence of the plant it came from. They are generally distilled and made from the leaves, stems, barks, or roots of a plant. The oils are very concentrated and are usually clear in colour, with a few exceptions. The citrus oils tend to be amber in colour. The oils can vary in price and quality, depending on how rare they are, the country they came from and the quality control procedures of the distiller. Essential oils are different from fragranced oils as essential oils are true essences of the plant they came from, and the fragranced oils are artificially scented products.
The properties and aromas of the different essential oils can offer benefits to mental and physical health, and the main ways in which the oils are used are either inhalation or application to the skin. When used on the skin, the oils are usually diluted with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil.
How can they be used?
Essential oils can be used therapeutically in several ways:
They can be applied to the skin
Essential oils can be used in the bath to bring about a certain emotional state such as relaxation. You might find that a lot of the oil will stick to the bath however if you choose this method. You can add up to 10 drops of oil to your bath water. Use certain oils with caution however, as some can sting if you add them to the bath. Oils such as lemon, grapefruit, ginger, and juniper should be used in small doses, only 2 drops per bath, as they can cause local irritation of the skin.
You can add the oils to a footbath, as a good stress reliever at the end of the day. Add 4 drops to some warm water and soak your feet for 20 minutes.
Essential oils are commonly used in massage. Use up to 6 drops, blended with a body lotion or carrier oil. They are also effective for facial massage, though in a lower dose as the facial skin is a smaller surface area and the skin is more delicate. Mix 1-3 drops of the oil with an appropriate carrier oil. For people with sensitive skin, use an even lower dosage.
The oil can be applied neat to the skin in some cases. Cuts, insect bites, spots, cold sores, and athlete’s foot can be treated with tea-tree and lavender oil. Apply the oil with a cotton bud, and remember, a little goes a long way.
They can be inhaled
Evidence suggests that oils are absorbed into the bloodstream when they are inhaled, as the blood vessels in the lungs absorb them. Our sense of smell is linked to emotions, memories, and associations, so that’s why inhaling oils can bring about desired emotional responses. The oil can be dispersed into the air using a fragrancer. They use dry heat, steam or fan assisted evaporation to help diffuse the oils into the room so that they can be inhaled. Essential oils can also be burned in an aromatherapy lamp to get the same effect. Inhalation of the oils is beneficial for colds, asthma, and sinus problems. It is also commonly used to lift the mood and to calm emotions. As well as using a fragrancer, you can add the oils to a bowl of hot water and cover your head with a towel, sit with your head over the bowl and inhale.
The oils can be used as a spray
Fill a plant spray bottle with water. Add 8-10 drops of the oil per 300 ml of water. Shake the bottle well before use, and the oils can be used as a room freshener or even as an insecticide. Modify the dosages for adults and children according to the instructions on the label.
They can be ingested
Essential oils are already used in some foods, for example peppermint flavoured mints or chewing gum. It is not recommended to drink essential oils neat unless you are under the supervision of a trained herbalist.
What is violet essential oil?
The oil is extracted from the flower or leaf of the violet plant. The plant, known as Viola odorata, is native to France, Italy, China, and Greece but is widely grown across the world. There are around 200 species of the plant and the most commonly known species has distinctive purple leaves. Most the harvested plants are used in perfumes, though violet is common in food flavouring too. The leaves are heart shaped and the plant has a sweet, floral aroma. Only a small amount of the actual plant ends up in the essential oil. Only 1 kg of oil is yielded from 1000 kg of plants. The oil blends well with oils from the floral family including Lavender and Geranium. The oil has some therapeutic properties which give its reputation for having health benefits. Common uses for the oil include using it as pain relief, as a diuretic and as an antiseptic.
Benefits and uses of violet essential oil
- Skin care
Violet essential oil is gentle on the skin and it can be used for several different skin conditions. The leaf and the flower has been used for a long time to treat different skin issues. Give the oil a try, it might end up working better than all that expensive skin care you spend your hard-earned money on. Violet essential oil is very effective for dry skin and can help soothe inflammation, heal thread veins, and can be used to treat acne and eczema. The oil is safe for topical use if you dilute it first.
- Beat muscle and joint inflammation
Violet essential oil has anti-inflammatory compounds and people with rheumatism and arthritis have reported that it is effective when massaged into joints and muscles during a flare up. Violet essential oil can help boost circulation to the muscles which helps with soreness whether it’s from general aches and pains or from a tough workout. Remember to dilute the oil first before applying it to skin, and remember that a little goes a long way. Some nice carrier oils to mix it with for massage include sweet almond oil and coconut oil. You can also add a few drops of the oil to your bath.
Violet essential oil is reputed to be comforting and calming, so it can relieve tension associated with headaches and migraines. Apply a few drops of the oil to a cold compress and put it on your forehead for 20 minutes to help you relax and ease a bad head. It’s so much better for you than taking painkillers all the time, which may cause undesirable side effects like stomach irritation, or even addiction, if you use drugs such as codeine.
- Stop colds in their tracks
Violet essential oil can be effective in treating the symptoms of the common cold, such as congestion, blocked sinuses, and scratchy throats. Violet oil is what’s called an expectorant, so it loosens up phlegm. Leave a diffuser or fragrancer in your room at night so you can inhale the vapour. You can also inhale the vapour by adding a few drops of the oil to a bowl filled with hot water. Cover your head with a towel and sit over the bowl and breathe the vapour in.
- Treats insomnia
If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it affects your mood and your immune system. Violet oil is reported to be effective in inducing sleep as it has relaxing and calming properties. You can combine it with lavender to increase its potency and leave a diffuser on in your room at night. This is a much gentler option than taking sleeping tablets which might have undesirable side effects
- It can be used as an aphrodisiac or for sexual dysfunction
Violet essential oil helps treat sexual dysfunction, especially if stress causes it. A blend of 2 drops of violet essential oil, 2 drops of jasmine essential oil and 1 drop of neroli essential oil is effective for this condition. You can diffuse this into your bedroom in the evening. You can also blend 2 drops of violet essential oil, 2 drops of clary sage essential oil and jasmine essential oil into your bath to relax you.
- To ease inflamed skin
If you are suffering from inflamed skin, violet essential oil can help calm and soothe the skin. The oil has antiseptic properties so it can be useful for acne. Blend 2 drops of violet essential oil and some scent free face cream and apply to the skin. This can also treat dry skin when blended with a rich moisturiser.
- To relieve pain
Violet contains salicylic acid which reduces pain and helps relieve muscle cramps. Mix 4 drops of violet essential oil, 3 drops of lavender essential oil and 2 ounces of sweet almond carrier oil. Massage the blend into affected areas whenever you need pain relief.
- It relieves bloating
The oil can be used to relieve intestinal bloating and gas. Mix together 2 drops of violet essential oil and an ounce of sweet almond carrier oil then massage the blend into your stomach, working in a clockwise direction. When you go to bed, put a hot water bottle on your stomach. The effects of the oil, massage and heat relieve abdominal discomfort.
- It can treat infection and inflammation of the bladder and the urinary system
The antiseptic action of the oil relieves bladder and ureter inflammation. Mix together a drop of violet essential oil and lavender essential oil then add the mixture into your bath. Soak in the bath for 20 minutes to get rid of any nasty invading bacteria.
- It calms coughs and loosens mucus
Violet essential oil is an expectorant which means it enables congestion to be cleared from the chest and sinuses. Add a drop of the essential oil to hot water (not boiling water) in a bowl. Sit with your face over the bowl and a towel over your head, and inhale the vapour for a few minutes.
- It can help heal broken capillaries
Violet oil can help heal broken capillaries in the skin and increase circulation to get rid of blockages and congestion which cause redness. Mix 2 drops of violet essential oil with a drop of rose essential oil and 4 ounces of water. Add the mixture to a spray bottle. Shake well before each use and apply it to your face in the morning and before you go to bed.
- It can soothe painful nipples from breastfeeding
Violet essential oil can soothe the skin and reduce pain. Mix 2 drops of the violet essential oil with 1 drop of chamomile essential oil and an ounce of sweet almond or avocado carrier oil. Rub the mixture onto your breasts every day, but take care to wash it off thoroughly before breastfeeding.
- It can help to relieve stress
If you feel tense and wrung out after a tough day, apply a cool compress to your forehead, with a drop of violet essential oil on it. Lie down and feel your stresses melting away. Rest for about 30 minutes and breathe deeply throughout.
- It can ease depression and anxiety
The violet essential oil is known for being calming, relaxing and mood lifting. Apply 2 to 2 drops of the oil on a cloth or handkerchief and inhale. Don’t let the oil come into direct contact with the skin.
Safety of violet essential oil
Violet essential oil may cause nausea and vomiting, so it should not be ingested unless you are taking it under the guidance of a medical herbalist. When applying violet oil to your skin, stick to the recommended dosage and always be sure to dilute it either with a carrier oil or water. Test it on a patch of skin on your inner arm if your skin is sensitive and tends to react. Since the oil tends to be a bit more expensive than others, sometimes other oils are added to make it go further. If you want the purest oil you can get, make sure you read the label or seek qualified advice.
More people are turning to herbal medicines nowadays, as they find prescription drugs ineffective, expensive and they can’t put up with the side effects that they can cause. Herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years for various health complaints and the modern world is only just starting to catch onto the idea of using these natural wonders to restore balance and harmony in our bodies.
Pure essential oils are 100% derived from the plant they are extracted from. Fragranced or synthetic oils won’t be authentic so won’t give you the amazing health benefits. Always check the label and get advice if you aren’t sure.
Essential oils are very versatile and can be used therapeutically in several ways. You can use them topically on your skin, you can inhale them and you can put them in a spray. The important thing to remember is to always follow the instructions regarding diluting the oil and the dosage. You can only use the oil neat in certain circumstances and essential oils can be toxic if you exceed the recommended dosage.
Again, like with any natural treatment, don’t assume it is safe because it is a natural product. These products contain compounds and active ingredients which can interact with medications you might be taking or worsen health conditions you already have. Always use with caution and see your Doctor if in doubt.
The violet plant is a beautiful plant with a distinctive smell and purple flowers, and it’s not just there to look pretty, its health-giving properties are spectacular too. As well as being included in perfumes and food products, the oil from the violet plant has many medicinal uses. Its benefits range from improving physical health conditions, to improving emotional health.
Imagine if a regular medication could cure sexual dysfunction, be good for your skin, brighten your mood, banish headaches and much more, it would be unbelievably expensive. Who would have believed that you could get these benefits from a humble plant, a product of mother nature, not something man made in a laboratory somewhere? The research into the use of oils and herbs looks very promising for the future. Hopefully future generations will benefit from the research being done now, and many chronic illnesses might just be managed or eliminated by a product you can get from a plant.