ALL About Essential Oil
WHAT You Should Know About Essential Oils (Information for educational purposes only - consult your doctors or qualified aromatherapists for advice)
Essential oils are not really oils. They do not contain the fatty acids that constitute what we would consider an actual oil.
They are volatile liquids (meaning they turn from a liquid to a gas very quickly at room temperature or higher). They are derived from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant.
Essential oils have been around for a long time. They were mankind’s first medicine. Priests and physicians have been using oils for thousands of years. In Egypt recipes were recorded on the walls in hieroglypics. Romans used them for everything from scenting their hair and clothing to their military flags to using them in massage and baths. 188 references to essential oils can be found in The Bible.
Most essential oils are high in antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties: This makes them an excellent addition to your homemade cleaning preparations. Oils that are best for cleaning are: Lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary.
Essential Oils have both physical and emotional level healing properties. Considered among the most therapeutic of all botanical extracts throughout the ages. Here are a few ways they can be used: to relax, sedate, balance, rejuvenate, invigorate, enhance memory, act as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-bacterial and anti-spasmodic.
Essential oils are miniscule in molecular size, which means they are absorbed well by the skin – making them perfect ingredients in personal care items intended to heal, soften, and nourish. However, they do not accumulate in the body over time – they simply offer up their healing properties and then pass on through.
Fragrance oils and essential oils are NOT the same thing. As a rule of thumb, if you see the word “fragrance” or “fragrance oil” or even “perfume” on anything, you can assume this is synthetic and NOT natural. (Even if it says natural fragrance.)
Essential oils are wholly natural and cannot be patented; which means that you’ll never see an essential oil in a pharmaceutical drug.
- More importantly, because essential oils cannot be patented, drug companies will not waste money studying them. This limits our scientific knowledge of essential oils GREATLY, and the majority of what we know about them are things that have been passed down through thousands of years of personal use and experimentation.
Enormous amounts of plants are needed to produce essential oil. In fact, on the extreme end, it takes 4000 pounds of Bulgarian roses to produce 1 pound of essential oil. Other plants like lavender only take 100 pounds of plant material to produce a pound of essential oil.
Most essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin. They are Highly Concentrated -One drop of an essential oil is equivalent to thirty cups of tea in terms of concentration.
Instead, they should be combined with “real” oils (called carrier oils), waxes, butters, alcohols, or other diluting measures. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute, you may end up with an unfortunate reaction.
There are a few essential oils that are generally recognized as safe to use undiluted. Of course, there has to be a few exceptions to the rule. Again, in Organic Body Care Recipes, the author points out that the only essential oils that are widely acknowledged as safe to use undiluted (sparingly) are: lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose geranium.
Never use an undiluted essential oil on a baby or child. Children have much thinner, more delicate skin than adults have, and tend to be very sensitive to the potency of essential oils.
Avoid the following essential oils while pregnant or nursing (and skip EOs completely in your first trimester): Aniseed, cedarwood, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, ginger, jasmine, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage.
To test if you’re sensitive to an essential oil (which is probably best to do before using it in a skincare preparation): Combine one drop of essential oil with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (like olive, jojoba, or sweet almond). Rub this on the inside, upper portion of your arm and wait a few hours. If no redness or itching develops, you’re most likely not sensitive to that essential oil.
Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children – and avoid contact with your eyes.This is just standard safety precautions, but must be mentioned.
Do not take essential oils internally, especially oils like wintergreen and eucalyptus. While some essential oils may be used well-diluted in something like toothpaste with safety, it’s generally recognized that there’s no need to take essential oils internally. In fact, there are several toxic essential oils that should be avoided even through skin contact.
Not all essential oils are created equally, nor does more expensive necessarily mean “better.” When you see a wide fluctuation in price between, say, lavender essential oils, you can bet that the far less expensive one is likely lower in quality
Quality and quantity vary greatly depending on plant variety, time of harvest, soil condition, method of cultivation and method of extraction. The two methods of extraction used in “true essential oils,” are: steam distillation and expression. Beware of synthetic oils. Know the origin and reputation of the company before purchasing oils. Do not purchase oils labeled, “perfume,” “fragrance,” or “potpourri.” if you are looking to use the oil for aromatherapy purposes.
Essential oils will last for at least 5 years (if not 10), so one bottle could literally last you a decade. Hopefully that thought will help mitigate the cost involved in purchasing some essential oils. Because they are SO concentrated and only a tiny amount is needed in anything you do, they’ll last you a very, very long time. The only exception to this rule is citrus oils, which will see a reduction in potency after a year or two.
Essential oils can penetrate the body through either the nose or skin. Inhalation of an oil can be a powerful way to affect memory, hormones and emotions. 1-3 drops of an oil is usually adequate when applying oils topically. The feet are the second fastest area to absorb oils because of the large pores. The wrists and behind the ears are also quick absorbing areas.
Store your essential oils in dark glass bottles (which they were probably packaged in) and out of direct sunlight. This is simply to help preserve their potency.
Remember that what you’re allergic to in food, you will be allergic to in essential oils. So if, for some reason, you can’t eat sage without breaking out in a rash, steer clear of sage essential oil (or any product containing it).
Use Essential Oils To Help Your Mood. Lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, chamomile, lemon, ylang-ylang all help produce happy, joyous moods. Clary sage helps with PMS (although there have been reports that overuse of clary sage can lead to intoxication). Rosemary increases focus and concentration. Don’t forget the mood benefits of essential oils.
The recommended usage of many essential oils is hotly contested throughout the aromatherapy profession. If you’re ever unsure about an oil or its use, do the research you can, and if you still cannot make up your mind as to its safety – avoid it. But, by all means, do NOT be afraid of essential oils. Just use them with care and respect, and all will be fine.
If in doubt - ask the professionals.
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