What Are Essential Oils?

The use of essential oils has been recorded throughout history for a wide variety of cultural, religious, therapeutic and wellness applications. Even in early prehistoric records, a knowledge of the importance of herbs has been recorded. Early humans discovered that they could dramatically improve the effectiveness of herbs by extracting the oils – the essence – of a variety of plants. Highly concentrated essential oils are many times more potent than the original plant is.

Early Recordings of Essential Oils

The Egyptians were some of the first people to use aromatic essential oils extensively for wellness purposes, beauty treatment, food preparation, and religious ceremony. Frankincense, Sandalwood, Myrrh, and Cinnamon were considered very valuable cargo along caravan trade routes. It has been estimated that over 3,000 tons of Frankincense was transported via caravans annually. The Bible also holds many accounts of the use of these precious herbs.

Borrowing from the Egyptians, the Greeks used essential oils in their practices of therapeutic massage and aromatherapy. Hypocrites, commonly known as the father of medicine, believed that a daily application of both of these practices would promote good health. The Romans also used aromatic oils to promote health and personal hygiene.

 

The Essence of Plants

If you have ever squeezed the peel of a lemon or an orange and smelled the strong scents emitted, you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. Besides giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils protect plants and play a role in plant pollination. In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and being wonderfully fragrant to people, essential oils have long been used in food preparation, beauty treatments, massage, aromatherapy and for many therapeutic and wellness benefits.

Essential oils, contrary to the use of the word “oil”, are not oily-feeling at all. Pure essential oils are clear – or are the color of the plant of origin – but pure essential oils should leave no residue when placed on the skin or on a paper towel. An essential oil contains the true essence of the plant that it is derived from.

Essential oils have been used throughout history in many cultures for their therapeutic benefits. For millennia they have been used in ancient  practices, beauty treatments, religious ceremonies and in modern aromatherapy. Modern trends toward more holistic approaches to self-care and wellness are driving a rediscovery of the profound benefits of essential oils. Many have powerful cleansing and rejuvenating properties.

We all know the power of smell and how every day scents can affect us – both negatively and positively. Whenever we smell a perfume or cologne we can be reminded of someone and we can be taken back in time with a simple scent. Essential oils are not the same as perfume or fragrances. Where essential oils are derived from the true essence of plants, perfume oils are artificial or contain a variety of external substances and do not offer the therapeutic benefits that pure essential oils can offer.

Essential oils can assist in relaxing, sleeping better, or improving a skin condition.  They can assist with mild digestive issues and minor aches.  Their benefits can go beyond a pleasant smell.

The chemical composition and aroma of essential oils can provide valuable psychological and physical therapeutic benefits. These benefits are usually achieved through several methods including inhalation, application of diluted essential oils on the skin, or even internally if Certified Pure.

Inhalation and topical application of essential oils as a molecule can enter the lungs and are absorbed in the bloodstream fairly quickly. Essential oils can have a powerful effect on us mentally, physically and emotionally. Their unique chemistry structure allows them to pass directly through the skin for immediate systemic response to topical application. Certain oils can be used as dietary aids to promote vitality and well-being.