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Healthy Scents

By New You Editorial
Posted On Jan 02, 2017
Healthy Scents

Looking for the essence of anti-aging and great health? Essential oils are the key.

By Olivier Wenker, MD

Essential oils represent the purest, most highly concentrated, complete forms of all that plants have to offer. And yet, their power-packed properties are considered secret potions by most of the world. Composed of hundreds, if not thousands, of compounds, essential oils work symphonically to relieve the symptoms of illnesses and conditions. Simultaneously, they can treat or prevent the underlying problems. Peppermint essential oil, for example, can reduce nausea, ease pain, or improve mental sharpness and physical fitness. As technology evolves, we are only beginning to eke out the ways in which these awesome oils work their slippery magic.

The Queen’s Secret 

The use of essential oils for beauty goes back thousands of years. They are perhaps most famously linked to Cleopatra, who used essential oils of frankincense and myrrh in her skin care ointments. And for good reason: Most oils display very high antioxidant properties, which delay premature aging of the skin. They have also shown the potential to improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, dry and slack skin, elasticity, and skin texture, as well as support the regeneration and repair of skin cells. Oils in this camp include Queen Cleo’s favorites: frankincense, myrrh, geranium, sandalwood, helichrysum, lavender, cistus, carrot seed, elemi, rose, patchouli, and palmarosa. Once absorbed into the skin they should be followed by the application of a few drops of neroli (orange blossom), which has an extremely pleasant scent. A little bonus: Neroli is also known to be a pheromone, with seductive properties.

Brown spots and other kinds of discoloration are best treated with sacred frankincense and geranium. On the subject of discoloration, be aware that many citrus-based oils are photosensitizers, meaning they can cause odd patches of color wherever you’ve applied your potion. In this instance, sun exposure should be avoided for at least 12 hours after using these oils on the skin. Stretch marks can be treated by massaging the belly with lavender, regular or sacred frankincense, geranium, spikenard, elemi, or myrrh. I also recommend using certain hydrosols for the skin, which are the watery portion created during distillation of the oils. They are less likely to irritate the eyes and feel very refreshing. Great hydrosols are those from frankincense, lavender, and Idaho blue spruce.

Well-Oiled Machine

Clinical studies have shown that athletes using peppermint run faster, do more pushups, and have better stamina. To boost your workout, apply several drops of peppermint, combined with Idaho blue spruce, to your arms, legs, and abs, and then inhale for about 20 seconds from your hands. This will widen the airways and increase oxygen uptake while improving muscle function and activating androgen receptors for better muscle building. It also helps other oils to penetrate deep into the tissues and acts as a pain killer. If you really want to up the ante, the application of a few drops of peppermint can be repeated during your workout, too. Topical application of copaiba, wintergreen, and peppermint oils after your post-workout shower will help prevent muscle soreness and improve muscle recovery. In fact, copaiba is one of the finest anti-inflammatory essential oils, and wintergreen is a secret weapon against pain.

Daily exercise is not only important for overall health but is also one of the best methods to prevent or improve age-related brain problems such as memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. Combining daily physical activity with those essential oils known to improve blood flow and oxygenation of the brain could be very beneficial for such patients as well. Other oils such as grapefruit, nutmeg, black pepper, chocolate, peppermint, and spearmint are the effective ways to increase metabolism—the ever-elusive effect desired by most people working out.

Greasing the Wheels of Time

Many essential oils have excellent antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, making them an important cornerstone in a holistic approach to anti-aging. They are typically very high in antioxidant power, neutralizing free radicals known to cause premature aging. In addition, essential oils can interact on a molecular level with cells, supporting healthy cell cycles and cell regeneration as well as hormonal balancing for women in perimenopause or full-on menopause. Essential oils of oregano, rosemary, ginger, lemon, sage, thyme, and tarragon not only have antibacterial properties when used in food preparation, but significantly reduce the formation of carcinogens when cooking meat on the grill. Cinnamon and ocotea are capable of reducing blood sugars, and melissa can reduce triglycerides in the blood by influencing the way liver cells deal with fat metabolism. Make sure, however, that you are using essential oils of medicinal or therapeutic grade. (Many are adulterated with harmful synthetic chemicals, like fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides used on the plants when they were grown.) When you do, a healthier, happier life will reveal itself to you, in short order.

Ancient Wisdom

The integration of old remedies such as essential oils can be an important part of a holistic, anti-aging lifestyle. This “back-to-the-future” approach to health works beautifully with a proper diet, dynamic workout regimen, and proper sleep.