Know Essential Oils

Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in varying parts of plants including stems, leaves, bark, flowers and seeds. Essential oils are known for their aromatic and therapeutic benefits. It is important to know that not all essential oils are created equal and not effectively regulated.

There are many oils marketed as essential oils that may not have many of the properties associated with a ‘pure essential oil’ unfortunately pure is very loosely applied when it comes to the marketing and retail of essential oils.

Essential Oils

Many factors influence the outcome of an essential oil, from the country of origin, soil quality, PH, temperature, hours of direct sunlight, shade and extraction processes. A high quality essential oil with therapeutic benefits will be grown in a region conducive to the highest quality yield not necessarily quantity, strict harvesting protocol and very controlled multiple stage testing for purity and efficacy.

An oil that simply smells good does not mean it is a high quality oil or even pure in the loosest use of the term it only means it smells good. Many oils although marketed as essential oils contain synthetic replicas of essential oil constituents, or fillers. Then there are the oils that do contain some true chemical constituents of plants however they may also contain fillers and due to the extraction process may not have provided therapeutic quality oil.

There are literally thousands of essential oils which have been recorded and used throughout history and these oils when extracted under strict controlled procedures have many therapeutic benefits. All essential oils are considered to have antiviral and antifungal properties. Individual oils due to their unique chemical composition also have many other properties for example Black pepper is rich in anti-spasmodic properties and basil for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are very volatile compounds and need to be carefully handled their therapeutic quality depends on it. Researching where you source your oils from is extremely important but only the first step. Good quality oils will be packaged in glass UV treated bottles which are often brown but may also be clear. Storage is important due to their volatility but also must be stored at room temperature and out of direct sunlight, as these factors will affect quality control. When dispensing the oil put only a few drops in the palm of the hand without touching the bottle top prevents contamination. Essential oils are attracted to sebum of our sebaceous glands and from there they enter the bloodstream. Essential oils are also quickly absorbed when applied to the soles of the feet due to the large pore size. All too frequently I see people taking oil and rubbing it between their palms or rubbing onto the skin, these volatile compounds are easily destroyed if not handled with care. Oils should be patted and then if a carrier oil is utilized wait a moment and the massage into the skin. The essential oils compounds have been transported via the sebum of the sebaceous glands towards their journey through the bloodstream.

Therapeutic essential oils can be used to aid with the body’s own healing capabilities, effect the emotions due to the nature of our olfactory senses, our sense of smell and the limbic brain connection.

Continue reading to learn about harvesting essential oils.