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What are Essential Oils?

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Where do Essential Oils Come From?

These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds offer a wide range of benefits suitable for you and your home.

The Science Behind Essential Oils

When you hear the word “volatile,” you may think it holds a negative connotation; however, in the case of essential oils, volatility refers to a substance’s ability to change its state quickly. The chemical makeup of volatile aromatic compounds in essential oils allow them to disperse quickly through the air. This is why you can recognise the aroma of an essential oil from the moment you open the bottle—even from a distance.  

How do Essential Oils Work?

As volatile aromatic compounds move quickly through the air, you will experience the scent almost instantly. With over 3,000 types of volatile aromatic compounds discovered so far, it is important to note that these compounds greatly determine the benefit, aroma and nature of each essential oil. Because of unique chemical makeup, each essential oil will vary from species to species, and even from plant to plant. The delicate ratio of aromatic constituents found in any given essential oil are what make it unique and give it specific benefits. 

Essential Oil Use Throughout History

Essential Oils are Not a New Trend

While some view essential oils as a new trend, the use of plant extracts and plant-based products is deeply rooted in traditions of the past. Ancient civilizations used plants for things like aromatherapy, personal care, health care practices, religious ceremonies, beauty treatments, and food preparation.

How Were Essential Oils Historically Used?

Essential oil use is not a fad, but rather a long-time tradition that began centuries ago in civilisations all over the world.

  • Egypt: Egyptians used plant-based products in beauty treatments, food preparations, burial rituals, and religious ceremonies. 
  • Greece: In ancient Greece, men like Homer and Hippocrates explored the aromatic uses of plants, building on discoveries made by early Egyptians. 
  • Rome: Ancient Romans often used plant extracts for massage, perfume, and scented baths. 
  • Iran: In medieval times, people in the region of Iran often used and traded spices or resins for perfumery and maintaining health. 
  • India: Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic healing system native to India, has developed over the span of 5,000 years and includes the use of aromatic and plant compounds. 
  • China: For centuries, traditional Chinese practices have included the use of plant materials to promote wellness. 
  • France: Rene Gattefosse, a French chemist, is credited as the first to coin the phrase “aromatherapy” as he studied and researched essential oils thoroughly in the 19th century.

How are Essential Oils Made?

It is important to note that not all essential oils are created equal. The purity of an oil can change depending on geographic location, distillation methods, weather, and other factors. Additionally, no matter how well a plant is selected, cared for, and harvested, the quality of an essential oil can either be preserved or destroyed during the distillation process. Because of the attention to detail and precision necessary in distillation, it becomes less of a process and more of an art form. Distillers must be precise and pay careful attention to harvesting methods, temperatures, time of distillation, the amount of pressure used, etc.

How Does a Plant Become an Essential Oil?

The exact process for producing an essential oil will vary depending on what type of plant the oil comes from. However, the basic idea is that plants go through a specific distillation process using special machinery in order to separate the essential oil from its plant parts. The essential oil hides within different parts of the plant, often in microscopic amounts. During the distillation process, the machinery will separate the essential oil from its original plant part. For example, when citrus oils are produced, machinery is used to separate the essential oil from the rind of the fruit.

Using Essential Oils Today

While essential oils and plant extracts have been used for centuries, essential oils still hold relevant applications today. With advancing technology, improved quality, potency, and safety, essential oils are now more accessible and easy to use in everyday life. Although essential oils were often used as a part of cultural practices and traditions of the past, we now have increasing scientific evidence and research to show the effectiveness and safe nature of essential oils in our day and age. 

Essential Oils for Wellness

In ancient times, people used essential oils and plant parts to improve their health and wellbeing. Because essential oils can be used in a range of application methods, they have long been a popular choice for those who want to maintain a life of wellness.

Essential oils offer a variety of benefits and each individual experiences essential oil use in their own way. Since essential oils are so diverse, they can be helpful in maintaining wellbeing, seeking alternative benefits, or to meet personal needs. Using essential oils to support a wellness lifestyle has become popular because it allows the user to tailor the experience to their specific wants and needs, rather than settling for a generic solution.

Meeting Your Needs with Essential Oils

With unique chemical structures, each essential oil holds a variety of benefits for the user. Some essential oils hold soothing and grounding properties, while others are known as energising or uplifting. As we go through an array of feelings throughout a single day, essential oils can help us manage and maintain wellbeing.

The chemical design of an essential oil gives it specific benefits that are unique to each user. Some essential oils provide a soothing sensation to the skin while the aroma of essential oils can also help to produce uplifting feelings.

Our sense of smell can produce powerful, physiologic, and emotional responses.

How to Use Essential Oils

Now that you know what an essential oil is and where essential oils come from, it is time to learn how to use them. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy the wide array of benefits that essential oils hold. All you need is a basic understanding of how to safely and simply use essential oils during your daily routine

If you’re ready to learn more, we can show you how to use essential oils.

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