What is an essential oil?
Essential oils are exactly what they sound like, the essence of a plant captured in the form of an oil. Plant matter such as leaves, bark, flowers, and fruit are distilled to extract their aroma and unique properties.
How are essentials oils made?
There are a number of ways to produce essential oils including steam distillation, cold press extraction, CO2 extraction, maceration, and enfleurage. Each process distills the plant and isolates liquids from solids, resulting in the production of an oil. Different processes work best for different types of plant matter.
Who discovered essential oils?
The use of essential oils is said to span back to ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Asia. Oils and products containing oils were traded between regions along trade routes such as the Silk Road. Essential oils were used to make perfumes, cosmetics, ointments, and medicines, with many being lauded for their healing and beautifying properties.
Essential oils throughout history
In the Ayurvedic practice of India, essential oils have been used for centuries to balance the systems of body and mind. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was said to have practiced many beauty rituals, with essential oils being an integral part of her routines. One legend even claims she soaked the sails of her ship in jasmine oil to scent the air and seduce Marc Antony as she sailed to meet him. It is also said that Hippocrates, considered to be one of the forefathers of modern medicine, espoused the use of aromatic oils to mitigate illness in a holistic healing approach.
How are essential oils used?
The wonders of aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is the practice of using the scents of essential oils to promote and maintain wellbeing of the body and mind. Essentials oils are diffused into the air or added to massage oils to produce a sensory experience, which may aid in reducing stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other ailments. Science suggests that inhaling the aroma of essential oils stimulates parts of the brain that may influence everything from our emotions to blood pressure regulation.
Not your average body, beauty, and cleaning products: Essential oils may also be used topically in products such as lotions, washes, and serums. Using essential oils in body and beauty products is a way to savor your favorite scents and enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy throughout the day. Some essential oils even have antibacterial properties and are ideal for use in cleaning products such as laundry detergent, soap, and multipurpose spray.
Do it yourself: Essential oils can be used in DIY projects such as candles, room sprays, potpourri, bath bombs, body scrubs, and solid perfumes. Reuse containers for a sustainable solution and save money at the same time. Share your homemade goodies with family and friends for a delicious-smelling gift.
Using essential oils safely
While the benefits of essential oils are numerous, they are strong substances and may cause irritation, so using them safely is of the utmost importance.
- Essential oils should always be diluted.
- Before using an essential oil product topically, always test on a small patch of skin first to ensure that no redness or irritation occurs.
- Essential oils should not be ingested or applied to the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. They should also be kept away from pets and children.
- Essential oils should not be used on babies and extra caution should be used when pregnant or breast feeding.
- When using essential oils in a diffuser, the room should be well-ventilated, especially when children and pets are present.
- Always consult with your doctor if you plan to use essential oils therapeutically or if you have any serious health conditions.