What are essential oils?
Essential oils are concentrated plant energy that triggers a healing response in the body’s system and the limbic brain. The “life force” of plants, essential oils contain both medicinal and aromatic characteristics. They are organic compounds which come in the form of tiny drops of oil found between the plant cells of the leaves, flowers, seeds, roots and bark, as well as rinds, resins, and buds occurring in a wide assortment of plant life. It is this highly concentrated oil, which gives the plant its fragrance. These oils are then produced by various methods of extraction.
How are essential oils extracted?
Expression: The liquid matter in a plant is squeezed out, and then carefully filtered. Expressed essential oils can only be produced from sources such as citrus peels (orange, lemon, lime, etc.), which contain a large percentage of aromatic oil.
Distillation: By far, the most common method, distillation involves heating organic material until its aromatic oils evaporate, then capturing and cooling the fragrant gas until it condenses back into a liquid. Very pure essential oils are eucalyptus, peppermint, pine, cedar, and cinnamon oils.
Solvent Extraction (Enfleurage): The petals of most flowers are so delicate that they cannot withstand the intensity of expression or the violent heat of distillation. Instead, carefully selected flower petals are mixed with an oil or fat and gently heated. This coaxes the aromatic oil to mix with the warm base material. A solvent is then added to soak up the aromatic oil. Finally, the solvent is evaporated, leaving behind an exquisite floral concentrate. The first extraction of a batch of flowers yields an absolute, the truest, most delicate scent known to perfumers. The process is then repeated to yield a thick, waxy material called a concrete. Concretes still offer a high quality aroma, but are much less delicate than absolutes. Many concretes cool into a rock-hard mass. A permanent solvent is then added to keep them liquid and allow them to be handled more easily. The result is called a tincture.
What are herbal extracts?
Herbal extracts are concentrated liquids made by extracting the medicinal and active organic properties, nutrient factors, vitamins, organic trace minerals, enzymes, and volatile oils from the raw herbs. The natural or medicinal properties of herbs are extracts using a low heat extraction process, recognized as the best extraction method in the world.
Following the alcohol extraction the herb is steeped in warm water for several days. This “water infusion” is then added back in to the alcohol tincture. The result is a product with a full range of the active ingredients of the plant, low in alcohol and easily assimilated in to the body. Recommended for children. Extracts should be refrigerated after opening.
How do essential oils work?
Essential oils contain antibacterial properties and also may contain anti-biotic, anti-viral and other therapeutic properties. These therapeutic qualities when used in a topical capacity and the actual fragrance of the oils can be mood altering. The skins absorb the oil over a large surface and because there are many small blood vessels close to the surface of the skin the oils are carried into the blood stream quickly and effectively. Therefore, essential oils operate on both an emotional and physical level. Essential oils used in this combination are called “AROMATHERAPY”.
What can essential oils be used for?
Essential oils can be used in massage, in fragrance or therapeutic bathing, applied to the skin for minor first aid or cosmetic skin care, in personal perfume, or by vaporizing the oils for environmental fragrances. They can be used for the treatment of a multitude of different conditions whether they are emotional or physical complaints. Some of the more common uses would be the treatment of coughs and colds, muscular aches and pains, cuts, burns and insect bites, cosmetic skin care including eczema, blemishes, wrinkles, or in everyday cleansing, toning and moisturizing of the skin. They can also be used to help relieve stress related symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nervous tension, depression and insomnia. The oils may be evaporated in to the air for purification, to repel insects, or just for their pleasant aromas.