Submitted by roy hulsbergenAn essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is "essential" in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant.
Essential oils do not as a group have any specific chemical or pharmaceutical properties in common. Instead they are defined by the fact that they convey characteristic fragrances. It follows that the common tendency to speak of essential oils as a category, as if that implied anything in particular about their medical, pharmacological, or culinary properties, is highly unreliable and often actually dangerous.
Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. Other processes include expression, or solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soap and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for scenting incense and household cleaning products.
Various essential oils have been used medicinally at different periods in history. Medical application proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to remedies for cancer, and often are based on nothing better than historical accounts of use of essential oils for these purposes. Claims for the efficacy of medical treatments and treatment of cancers in particular, are now subject to regulation in most countries, and to avoid criminal liability, suppliers of fringe remedies are becoming increasingly vague in what they promise.
As the use of essential oils has declined in mainstream evidence-based medicine, one must consult the older textbooks for much information on their use, eg Sapeika and Thorpe. Modern works are less inclined to generalise; rather than refer to "essential oils" as a class at all, they prefer to discuss specific compounds such as methyl salicylate without mentioning even "oil of wintergreen". See for example Goodman or Casarett.
Interest in essential oils has revived in recent decades with the popularity of aromatherapy, a branch of alternative medicine which claims that the specific aromas carried by essential oils have curative effects. Oils are volatilized or diluted in a carrier oil and used in massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer or by heating over a candle flame, or burned as incense, for example.
Today, most common essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus, are distilled. Raw plant material, consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or peel, is put into an alembic (distillation apparatus) over water. As the water is heated the steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the volatile compounds. The vapors flow through a coil where they condense back to liquid, which is then collected in the receiving vessel.
Do not take any oils internally without consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner.There are two ways of application:
InhalationWhen inhaling oils for aromatherapy, here are some commonly used techniques:
- Inhale essential oils directly—simply smell them straight from the bottle.
- Diffuse essential oils using a device that disperses the oil into the air in a micro-fine vapor. Young Living offers a line of essential oil diffusers that effectively spreads the aromatic benefits of essential oils through the air without damaging their important constituents.
- Use essential oils with a humidifier. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on a tissue or small cloth and place in front of the escaping steam. Avoid putting the oil directly into your humidifier, as it will float on top of the water instead of dispersing with the water vapor.
Topical ApplicationEssential oils can be applied directly to the skin. Be sure to read the label before using oils topically, as some oils must be first diluted with a carrier oil prior to use.
Key areas for topical application are:
- Crown of head
- Behind ears
- Upper back
- Over vital organs
- Soles and tops of feet
- Place 2–3 drops of oil in the palm of your hand or directly on the desired area.
- If placing oil in your hand, rub palms together in a circular motion and then massage oil onto the desired point of application. If applying directly to the desired area, massage the oil into your skin using a circular motion. Repeat as desired.
Some of the most used oils:
Lavender oil - Lavendula officinalis
Uses: Acne, allergies, anxiety, asthma, athlete's foot, bruises, burns, chicken pox, colic, cuts, cystitis, depression, dermatitis, dysmenorrhea, earache, flatulence, headache, hypertension, insect bites, insect repellant, itching, labor pains, migrane, oily skin, rheumatism, scabies, scars, sores, sprains, strains, stress, stretch marks, vertigo, whooping cough.
Excellent for soothing and reducing the effect and pain of burns, insect bites and skin sores.
When buying check if you are not buying Lavendin (Lavandula hybrida), which is less powerful and a lot cheaper.
Lavender Aspic is very good against insects bites/stings and jelly fish stings
Rosemary oil - Rosmarinus officinalis
Uses: Aching muscles, arthritis, dandruff, dull skin, exhaustion, gout, hair care, muscle cramping, neuralgia, poor circulation, rheumatism, insect repellant.
Eucalyptus oil - Eucalyptus globulus
Uses: Arthritis, bronchitis, catarhh, cold sores, colds, coughing, fever, flu, poor circulation, sinusitis.
Pour hot water into a bowl and add a few drops of essential oil. Lower your face a few inches over the bowl and cover your head and the bowl with a towel, then breathe deeply and slowly.
Tea Tree oil - Melaleuca alternifolia
Uses: Acne, athlete's foot, candida, chicken pox, cold sores, colds, corns, cuts, flu, insect bites, itching, migraine, oily skin, ringworm, sinusitis, sores, spots, urethritis, warts, whooping cough.
Citronella - Cymbopogon nardus
Uses: Excessive perspiration, fatigue, headache, insect repellant, oily skin.
Clove bud - Eugenia caryophyllata
Uses: toothache, Arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism, sprains, strains, . Safety Information: Mucous membrane and dermal irritant. Avoid in alcoholism, in haemophilia, in prostatic cancer, with kidney and liver problems and if taking anticoagulants.
One of the most powerful anti infection, anti inflammation remedies.