You are here: Home > Essential Ideas > Essential OilsóBasic Facts

Essential OilsóBasic Facts

What are essential oils?

Why is it so difficult to find pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils?

What benefits do pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils provide?

How long have essential oils been around?

How do essential oils affect the brain?

What enables essential oils to provide such incredible benefits?


What are essential oils?

Essential oils are the volatile liquids that are distilled from plants (including their respective parts such as seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruit, etc.). One of the factors that determine the purity and therapeutic value of an oil is its chemical constituents. These constituents can be affected by a vast number of variables including: the part(s) of the plant from which the oil was produced, soil condition, fertilizer (organic or chemical), geographical region, climate, altitude, harvest season and methods, and distillation process. For example, common thyme, or thyme vulgaris, produces several different chemotypes (biochemical specifics or simple species) depending on the conditions of its growth, climate, and altitude. One will produce high levels of thymol depending on the time of year it is distilled. If distilled during mid-summer or late fall, there can be higher levels of carvacrol which can cause the oil to be more caustic or irritating to the skin. Low pressure and low temperature are also keys to maintaining the purity, the ultimate fragrance, and the therapeutic value of the oil.

As we begin to understand the power of essential oils in the realm of personal holistic healthcare, we comprehend the absolute necessity for obtaining certified pure therapeutic-grade essential oils.  No matter how costly certified pure therapeutic-grade essential oils may be, there can be no substitute.  Chemists can replicate some of the known individual constituents, but they have yet to successfully recreate complete essential oils in the laboratory. 

Those who are beginning their journey into the realm of aromatherapy and essential oils must actively seek for the purest quality and highest therapeutic-grade oils available.  Anything less than certified pure therapeutic-grade essential oils may not produce the desired results and can, in some cases, be extremely toxic.

Why is it so difficult to find pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils?

Producing the purest of oils can be very costly because it may require several hundred pounds, or even several thousand pounds of plant material to extract one pound of pure essential oil. For example, one pound of pure melissa oil sells for $9,000-$15,000. Although this sounds quite expensive, one must realize that three tons of plant material are required to produce that single pound of oil. Because the vast majority of all oils produced in the world today are used by the perfume industry, the oils are being purchased for their aromatic qualities only. High pressure, high temperatures, rapid processing and the use of chemical solvents are often employed during the distillation process so that a greater quantity of oil can be produced at a faster rate. These oils may smell just as good and cost much less, but will lack most, if not all, of the chemical constituents necessary to produce the expected therapeutic results.

What benefits do pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils provide?

  • Essential oils are the regenerating, oxygenating, and immune defense properties of plants.
  • Essential oils are so small in molecular size that they can quickly penetrate the tissues of the skin.
  • Essential oils are lipid soluble and are capable of penetrating cell walls, even if they have hardened because of an oxygen deficiency. In fact, essential oils can affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes and are then metabolized like other nutrients.
  • Essential oils contain oxygen molecules which help to transport nutrients to the starving human cells. Because a nutritional deficiency is an oxygen deficiency, disease begins when the cells lack the oxygen for proper nutrient assimilation. By providing the needed oxygen, essential oils also work to stimulate the immune system.
  • Essential oils are very powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants create an unfriendly environment for free radicals. They prevent all mutations, work as free radical scavengers, prevent fungus, and prevent oxidation in the cells.
  • Essential oils are anti-bacterial , anti-cancerous, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, and antiseptic. Essential oils have been shown to destroy all tested bacteria and viruses while simultaneously restoring balance to the body.
  • Essential oils may detoxify the cells and blood in the body
  • Essential oils containing sesquiterpenes have the ability to pass the blood brain barrier, enabling them to be effective in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Essential oils are aromatic. When diffused, they provide air purification by:
    • Removing metallic particles and toxins from the air
    • Increasing atmospheric oxygen
    • Increasing ozone and negative ions in the area, which inhibits bacterial growth
    • Destroying odors from mold, cigarettes, and animals
    • Filling the air with a fresh aromatic scent
  • Essential oils help promote emotional, physical, and spiritual healing.
  • Essential oils have a bio-electrical frequency that is several times greater than the frequency of herb, food, and even the human body. Clinical research has shown that essential oils can quickly raise the frequency of the human body, restoring it to its normal, healthy level.

How long have essential oils been around?

Essential oils were mankind's first medicine. From Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts, we know that priests and physicians have been using essential oils for thousands of years. In Egypt, essential oils were used in the embalming process and well preserved oils were found in alabaster jars in King Tut's tomb. Egyptian temples were dedicated to the production and blending of the oils and recipes were recorded on the walls in hieroglyphics. There are 188 references to essential oils (such as frankincense, myrrh, rosemary, etc.) in the Bible.

How do essential oils affect the brain?

The blood-brain barrier is the barrier membrane between the circulating blood and the brain that prevents certain damaging substances from reaching brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid.  The American Medical Association (AMA) determined that if they could find an agent that would pass the blood-brain barrier, they would be able to cure Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.  One category of chemical constituents known as sesquiterpenes--commonly found in essential oils such as frankincense and sandalwood--are known to be able to go beyond the blood-brain barrier.

High levels of these sesquiterpenes also help increase the amount of oxygen in the limbic system of the brain, particularly around the pineal and pituitary glands.  This leads to an increase in secretions of antibodies, endorphins, and neurotransmitters.

Also present in the limbic system of the brain is a gland called the amygdala.  In 1989, it was discovered that the amygdala plays a major role in the storing and releasing of emotional trauma.  The only way to stimulate this gland is with fragrance or the sense of smell.  Therefore, essential oils can be powerful key to help unlock and release emotional trauma.

What enables essential oils to provide such incredible benefits?

The heterogenetic benefits of an essential oil depend greatly on its diversity of chemical constituents--and not only on the existence of specific constituents, but also their amounts in proportion to the other constituents that are present in the same oil.  Some individual oils may have anywhere from 200 to 800 different chemical constituents.  However, of the possible 800 different constituents, only about 200  of those have so far been identified.  Although not everything is known about all the different constituents, most of them can be grouped into a few distinct families, each with some dominant characteristics.

Information on this page is from AromaTools' Modern Essentials.

(Opens a printer friendly page for this article in a new window.)
Sort By:
1
   
 
1