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Essential Oils 101

Essential Oils

One way to switch up your fall routine? Essential oils. “Essential oils are aromatic substances that are extracted from a variety of plant materials through a process called steam distillation,” explains Amy Galper, a certified aromatherapist and the co-founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies in New York City. The oils “have been shown to have a profound effect on our wellbeing,” she says—and can used by smelling them or in body care products, among other uses. 

Galper, also the co-author of the book Plant Powered Beauty, calls essential oils “a truly holistic healing delivery,” since they can affect both the body and the mind at the same time. And as she mentions, to use them, you can simply smell them through, for instance, a diffuser, aromatic mist, or personal inhaler, or, among other uses, they can also be incorporated into “dozens of skin and body care products ranging from face oils to body scrubs to pain relieving gels,” she says.


But what exactly are they supposed to be good for? It depends on what you’re looking for: Lavender, one of the most common essential oils, is said to help with sleep, de-stressing, and inflammation reduction, says Galper. Other common choices: Frankincense, which can help with insomnia as well as to de-stress; eucalyptus and peppermint, which can help with breathing, among other things, and, sweet orange, which can help with digestion, and to make you feel happier and more energized, according to Galper. 

Blends can also be created. For instance, at Wildflower Centre for Natural Healing in Norwalk, CT, Anna Perelli offers an allergy support blend including lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint and tea tree oil. Other popular choices at her modern-day apothecary are a French lavender blend and citrus oils, like grapefruit, lemon and bergamot. 

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