What are essential oils?

Posted by Fiona Tutte on

So if Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of Aromatic Essential Oils (see previous Blog) then what are Essential Oils and what does Therapeutic mean 🤔

Essential Oils 

Essential oils are the key essence of aromatherapy and are often called Aromatherapy Oils. They are aromatic plant extracts from naturally occurring plant chemicals. They are extracted from a single botanical source, usually via steam distillation.

Each essential oil contains many constituents, each of which has its own function – this is why one essential oil can have many different effects. For example Lavender Oil (the most commonly used Essential Oil) can be used for calming the mind to help with sleep but it can also be used for insect bites, for burns (it is miraculous at healing burns) and for stress headaches, spots/acne and it also has anti-viral properties 🦠

Essential oils have been used for centuries to heal wounds and treat illnesses. It is only in the last 100 years that they have been used commonly for their therapeutic properties on the body and mind.

Therapeutic Meaning

Therapeutic means that something helps to heal and restore health

Therapeutic Essential Oils

Only about 3% of essential oils produced are of therapeutic quality. The non therapeutic essential oils, which don't have a powerful healing effect, are used in different fields - mainly the catering, perfume and pharmaceutical industries

If Essential Oils aren't of high enough quality they aren't going to have a great effect. This is why I will only source ingredients directly and will not outsource the manufacturing of my products. A contract manufacturer will use the ingredients they choose, which are often based on cost alone.

I pride myself on creating 100% active products to give great results, which comes not only from years of blending experience but also from knowing the origin of every single ingredient.

Essential Oils are like the life force of the plant. They are highly concentrated and said to be about 100 x stronger than the raw plant material - 1 drop can be very powerful! They are all aromatic and are usually quick to evaporate. They are also highly flammable so please be aware when using with an oil burner❗️

Extraction

The time of day a plant is picked and how long it takes before it reaches the extraction area greatly influence the quality of the oil.  The Quality and Purity of an essential oil is checked by the supplier using odour analysis, Gas Chromatography and Chemical Analysis. This shows the levels of chemical constituents within the essential oil. It can also show if an oil has been adulterated to boost the cost. This is why buying from a reputable supplier is so important.

Steam Distillation of essential oils

Most essential oils are extracted by Steam Distillation, a process which has hardly changed in the last 1000 years.

CO2 Extraction

This is now one of my preferred methods of extracting essential oils as it produces an aroma much closer to the actual plant aroma. The essential oils are often thicker as they contain many different consitiuents of the plant. It is a very clean and effective method of production.

Effects of Essential Oils

Aside from their well known anti-bacterial properties essential oils have three main effects

  1. Pharmacological - Cells, Blood, Hormones & Enzymes
  2. Physiological - Body Organs
  3. Psychological - Mood & Memory

Pretty amazing aren't they 👏  🙌 

I could go on but this is a Beauty Blog not a science blog so I won't bore you will any more geeky info!

If you are interested though you can read about How Aromatherapy Works in my next blog post!

Fiona 😘


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