WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential oils are the “NEW IN-THING” and seem to be everywhere now — Essential oils are in your favourite beauty products, scented candles and even home cleaning products. While these natural oils are a great non-toxic addition to personal hygiene and scented goods, they are so much more than that. In fact, they can be a very powerful health booster!
Essential oils are the oldest and original form of medicine. They are organic compounds that are extracted directly from the root, seed, bark, leaf, flower or fruit of a plant, shrub or tree. The final product is highly concentrated, as it contains the most powerful healing compounds of a plant, the plant’s life force!
The term “essential oil” is actually short for quintessential oil from the Aristotelian idea that matter is composed of four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. As depicted in the four corners of our ESSENTIALLY YOUNG logo.
The fifth element, or quintessence, was believed to be “Spirit or Life Force”.
Long before the science of extraction was discovered, it was believed that by using essential oils you were capturing the spirit or life force of the plant. Even ancient people understood the power and beauty of essential oils.
This “Spirit / Life Force” consist of compounds that protect the plant from bugs, shield it from a harsh environment and help it to adapt to its surroundings. As an example to indicate just how concentrated these oils are, it takes about 100kg of lavender flowers to make just 500ml of lavender essential oil. For over 5,000 years, essential oils have been used for medicinal purposes, cosmetics and perfumes. Long before South Africans began practicing aromatherapy, oils were being used by the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Today, there are trained professionals, including Aromatherapists and Nutritionists, who use the healing power of essential oils every day, in a multitude of incredible ways.
Now with just a basic understanding of Essential oil benefits and uses, you too can add Essential Oils to your daily regimen and use them to address conditions where you might have previously used conventional methods.
However, before you embark on this new natural adventure - please be aware that not all essential oils are “created” equally! It’s imperative that you buy and use the best kind of Essential Oils : PURE, Aromatherapy Grade – a latin name MUST definitely be present and there should NEVER be any carrier oils, or fillers or any other ingredient on the label of a high quality Essential Oil. Organic Essential Oils would be the best.
HOW ARE ESSENTIAL OILS MADE:
Essential oils are extracted from the plant by these two most popular and common ways:
Steam Distillation is the most common and oldest method – more than 5000 years old!
During this process the botanicals are placed into a still or large vat and pressurized steam is forced through the plant material. The tiny plant compounds escape from the plant material and evaporate into the steam. The steam must be hot enough to allow the release of the essential oil while not damaging the plant. The steam combined with essential oil then passes through a cooling system where it condenses into liquid consisting of essential oil and water. The essential oil, being lighter, will float to the top and can then be separated from the water. This is the pure ESSENTIAL OIL. The water by-product of distillation is called a hydrosol or floral water.
Expression. The expression method is used for extracting essential oils from the rinds of citrus fruits. Expression is also known as the "expeller-pressed" or "cold-pressed" method of extraction since no heat is needed to extract the essential oil. In this process, the whole fruit is placed in a device that mechanically pierces it to rupture the essential oil sacs, which are located on the underside of the rind. The essential oil and pigments run down into the device’s collection area. The whole fruit is pressed to squeeze out the juice and the oil. The pressed liquid and pulp are then centrifuged, where they separate into citrus juice and essential oil. Citrus peels are often obtained in bulk as a by-product of the citrus juice industry, which is why many of these essential oils (lemon, orange) are readily available and inexpensive. Contamination with pesticides is a real concern in the collection of citrus essential oils, so it’s a great place to invest in certified organic oils.
The other methods of extracting Essential Oils include: solvent extraction, cohobation, maceration and enfleurage – however not common anymore.
How to use Essential Oils ??
TWO EASY WAYS: AROMATICALLY and TOPICALLY
The most effective way to inhale Essential oils is to use an ultrasonic Humidifying Diffuser. Through cool vapour dispersion, the tiny molecules will be diffused into the air and inhaled into our lungs through the nostrils.
When essential oils are inhaled, the many blood vessels in the lungs absorb the oils and circulate them throughout the body, and this is the safest and least risky way to use essential oils. You can benefit from inhaling essential oils directly from the bottle or you can use a diffuser in your home or office. The volatile compounds in essential oils can pass from the air into your olfactory system. Your olfactory system, which is your sense of smell, is connected directly to your brain, and what you smell can go into your cells and your bloodstream within seconds.
Once in your system, these oil compounds have the ability to protect and support your body in various ways. Promoting health by means of your olfactory system is why using essential oils has been referred to as aromatherapy.
It’s important to mention that dried herbs and medicinal tinctures also have health promoting properties. For instance, ground ginger root, cinnamon and echinacea have many health benefits. Consuming healthy foods such as vegetables and fresh herbs can also support overall wellness. But, in terms of compounds that have the strongest concentrated health-promoting properties, none of these are as powerful as essential oils.
When essential oils are applied topically, they can penetrate the skin and pass into the bloodstream, allowing the oils to benefit different areas of the body, relieving symptoms associated with such conditions as skin irritations, acne, bug bites, wounds, burns, and even localized pain or tension. Topical application can be achieved in a few different ways: Oils can be added to warm bath water when mixed with Epsom Salts.
They can also be rubbed into areas of the body, such as the temples, wrists, back of neck, chest, stomach and bottoms of the feet. Please keep in mind, hat most essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil before they can be applied directly to the skin.
A carrier oil is typically a plant or vegetable oil – such as coconut, olive, almond or grapeseed and comes from the fatty part of the plant. When carrier oils are combined with essential oils and then applied to the skin, the essential oil is not only diluted so that it’s gentler on the skin, but it also allows the essential oil to stay on the skin, thereby benefiting a larger surface area for a longer period of time.