An Introduction to Essential Oils
Article by Alexia Buttigieg
Oh Essential oils! Wait do you know what they are or where they come from? ….don’t fret! here are some interesting and fun details.
We all know what essential oils are right? But just in case there are some who might not know here is a quick brief explanation. Essential oils are not in reality oils, they are made of volatile chemical molecules found in aromatic plants. These are called essential oils as they have oil soluble chemicals and are not able to dissolve in water. Not all plants can produce essential oils, and those that do can be from the fruit, flower, stem, roots or leaves. Commercially there are approximately 400 to 500 essential oils produced worldwide. And most are distilled( like in picture below we find Lavender being processed into an essential oil). Other methods are Expressing which is used most for citrus fruits and Enfleurage which is a cold-fat extraction process used for delicate flowers. Solvent extraction produces a concrete, and than results in an absolute. And finally the CO2 extraction which is quite a modern and sophisticated expensive technique used to extract aromas even from plants which before where unthinkable of, but since it’s quite a new technique further studies have to be done regarding all benefits. It is considered very safe to use though organic CO2 is recommended as levels of pesticides are marked high in this method.
Some describe the essential oils like the blood of the plant. It sounds very poetic and in a way a plant cannot survive without these essential nutrients, but in reality essential oils are not a living substance. These do not carry hormones, vitamins, or any living substance. They work chemically and not because they are like our blood. So why are they so important?
Within the plants they have 2 main functions, Protection and communication, they are than able to do the same in a human body mainly via 2 main ways. Through olfactory(sense of smell) and via the skin. Our body reacts to the chemicals of the particular essential oils being Analgesic, relaxing, sedative, balancing or even more than one therapeutic effect like most essential oils have more than one effect on our systems.
Essential oils should not be taken lightly and it is important to ask your aromatherapist or seek a reliable source if not familiar with. If used incorrectly they can have adverse reactions. There are contra indications to some and can interact with medicinals or other alternative treatments so seek for advice, but Essential oils should be staple in every household for their antiseptic properties, first aid properties, cleaning properties, relaxing properties and let us not forget the beautiful aroma they emit. Safe fragrances with an added therapeutic effect on all members of the family. Sounds nice hey! So I hope that after getting an idea of what and how these amazing substances are produced you will start venturing more into this amazing aromatic world.
Sources: roberttiserrand.com ; drrobertpappasweedandreep.com ; naha.org
Alexia Buttigieg is a holistic therapist who is passionate about everything that can help people feel better in a more natural approach, from massage to self-therapy to essential oils and reflexology. She believes that stress cannot be avoided but nature has given us all we need to reduce it, and live a more balanced existence. She started her career as a Beauty therapist and has achieved diplomas in Esteticienne and Physiatrics, where she was able to understand the anatomy and physiology of the human body. She furthered her studies by achieving diplomas in Reflexology (including palliative care) and Aromatherapy. Other certificate courses include tui na, facial analysis and ayurvedic stone massage. In these past years she has ventured into natural cosmetics and read for a diploma and an advanced diploma in organic skincare formulation, which harmonises her passions for Aromatherapy and organic skincare treatments. Alexia still feels like her first role is being a mother to her daughter and prioritises family and their well-being. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org