Essential Oils 101: The Basics

Essential Oils

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The basics of a healthy home include items such as healthy and nutritious foods, safe cleaning supplies, herbs, homeopathy, and aromatherapy with organic essential oils.

Personally, I have been using organic essential oils in my home and with my family for years. I started with just a few of the more popular EOs like lavender and peppermint. Then as I learned more about the benefits of essential oils I began branching out trying new oils and eventually making my own blends. Essential oils are still very misunderstood and many people underestimate or discount their healing and amazing cleaning powers in a healthy home.

The Basic Properties of Essential Oils

“All who know the pure product and use it with understanding come to respect the essential oils. Once cannot but admire their ability to populate effectively not only on the cellular, physical level, but in the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic area of our lives also.” The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood pg. 2

Essential oils are complex bundles or pure perfection gifted to us by nature. An essential oil on average is comprised of over 100 components. The main components include terpenes, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones, phenols, and numerous others yet to be discovered by technology. Because the chief components of essential oils are easily replicated in a chemistry laboratory, there are those that think reconstituted (created in a lab) oils are just as effective as pure essential oils from natural sources. This simply isn’t true. You must make sure that the source of your oils is pure and unaltered. Oils are not simply used for their smell, the healing properties of essential oils can not be copied by man. Pure essential oils contain the same basic building blocks as our own bodies which make them noninvasive, nontoxic, and ideal for healing. Pure essential oils also do not interfere with the heat and electromagnetism of our cells which further contributes to our natural healing processes.

Sources of Origin in Nature

There are over 300 essential oils currently used by aromatherapists and average people like you and I everyday.  The natural source of all essential oils depends on the oil itself. Depending on the plant source the oil may be taken from a flower, tree, shrub, or grass. Additionally, some oils are extracted from the root, stalk, seed, leaf, resin, fruit peel, bean, bark, needles, or twigs of their respective plant source.

Where the plant is grown around the world also has an effect on the concentration and aroma of the oil.

Methods of Extraction

The method of extracting the oil from the plant source depends on the source itself. The most common method is steam distillation. In steam distillation the source material is placed upon a grate in a sealed still. Steam then slowly breaks through the plant material and the material containing the oil rises and cools on a condenser. Oil is lighter (in most cases) than water so when the liquid is collected the oil is siphoned off of the top of the water.

Other methods of extraction include expression, enfleurage, solvent extraction, and maceration. As with everything, new methods are always being developed to extract essential oils.

Methods of Use

There are numerous methods by which to effectively use essential oils. I will detail these methods in a later post in this series but for now the three main methods are body, water, and room. It is VERY important to remember that ingesting essential oils is not typically an effective method of using oils for health benefits. The

Body:

  1. Inhalation;  add oil to a bowl of hot water, cover you face with a towel and lean over the steam a safe distance. Breathe deeply through your nose for at least 1 minute.
  2. Massage oil; mix essential oil with carrier oil. Pour a small amount of oil mixture into your hand and massage as needed.
  3. Perfume; spray on body in a premixed perfume
  4. Tissue/handkerchief; place 1 drop of oil on tissue and inhale when needed.

Water: The water uses for essential oils are extensive. For the brevity of this post I will simply list the methods, I will explain this method of use more in-depth in a future article. Water uses include baths, foot bath, hand bath, sitz bath, shower, sauna, jacuzzi, douche, and bidet.

Room: Again, this method of use is lengthy and will be explained in depth in a later article. Candles, diffusers, light bulbs, humidifiers, room sprays, radiators, water bowls, and wood fires are all methods of diffusing oils in a room. It should be noted that when using this method you will need to leave the room shortly after beginning the selected method of choice to receive the full benefit of the oil if aroma is your main goal. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a situation where the smell of a particular room wears off the longer we are in that room. If you leave and re-enter later the smell will seem new again.

Base Oils

Base oils include nut, seed, or vegetable oils. Base oils are used to dilute the essential oil when applying to the skin. Most essential oils when used neat will burn and irritate the skin. Carrier oils do not decrease the efficacy of the essential oils, they merely provide a vehicle for dilution and easier application directly on the skin.

Alphabetically base oils include: sweet almond oil, apricot oil, avocado oil, borage seed oil, carrot oil (essential oil and case oil), corn oil, evening primrose oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soya bean oil, sunflower oil, wheatgerm oil.

Essential oils have enormous healing properties. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and our health to explore the full possibilities that these oils contain. Everyday people are discovering that essential oils are providing relief and healing for conditions that western medicine has not been able to  alleviate.

My favorite place to purchase organic essential oils, hydrosols, herbs, teas, and spices is from Mountain Rose Herbs. Their prices are great, shipping is fast, and customer service is second to none.

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

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