Essential Oils

What are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are liquids that are extracted from plants such as herbs.  The flowers, leaves, roots and stems of suitable plants are used and the “essence” of these plants is extracted in a liquid form.

In other words, Essential Oils can be seen as the condensed essence of the plant in a fluid form.  In fact, Stephanie Tourles – author of Organic Body Care Recipes – goes as far as saying that Essential Oils are the life force or the soul of a plant.  These oils or “life forces of the plant” boast an array of potent medicinal and cosmetic qualities that modern Western medicine has not been able to replicate entirely.

Imagine using an organic, all natural approach towards healing and health that carries minimal risk and no harmful side effects or chemical based products…  These are just some of the benefits of using Essential Oils.  Other benefits include its calming, relaxing and rejuvenating effects.  It further boasts an array of health benefits, such as that it is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and pain relieving – to name but a few.

With the myriad of therapeutic benefits, Essential Oils boast an elaborate list of uses.  Some of the popular ways in which these oils are used include inhalation of the aroma of the oils, using a diffuser, bathing in the oils and massaging the body with the oils.

Interesting facts about Essential Oils:

  • Essential Oils are excellent as home-made household cleaning supplies. This is due to the fact that most oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Some of the most popular cleaning oils include eucalyptus, grapefruit, lemon, peppermint, tea tree, lavender and rosemary.
  • Essential Oils are the perfect ingredient in personal care items that are intended to heal, soften and nourish. Since Essential Oils’ structure is so miniscule, the liquid is quickly and effortlessly absorbed into the skin. An added benefit is that, unlike pharmaceutical medicine, they do not build up in the body but simply pass through our bodies.
  • Scientific studies have shown that Rosemary Essential Oil helps your brain perform. Specifically, smelling rosemary essential oil helps memory recall and performance on tests. Interestingly, this study also showed that groups that inhaled either rosemary or lavender essential oil felt much more relaxed than those who inhaled no odor at all.
  • Essential Oils are not the same as Fragrance Oils. In other words, if you see the words “fragrance”, “fragrance oils” or “perfume” you can assume that the oil is synthetic and rather than natural.
  • Due to the natural nature of the oil (and the fact that it is 100% organic), Essential Oils cannot be patented. One of the implications of this is that the pharmaceutical industry tends to shy away from utilising Essential Oils as ingredients in their drugs. This is mainly due to the fact that using an unpatented ingredient carries a risk of competitors copying the recipes. Due to this fact that pharmaceutical companies do not use Essential Oils for the risk of their products being copied, these companies also do not invest greatly in research regarding the oils. Unfortunately, the lack of research impacts substantially on the scientific knowledge in circulation within the public realm.
  • Luckily, personal testimonials of the powerful impact of Essential Oils are not in short supply. On the contrary, the majority of the information currently within circulation in the public realm is based on data that has been passed down through many generations of personal use and experimentation. To extract the “essence” and thus produce Essential Oils, a great quantity of the plant is needed. For example, to produce one litre of Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil, approximately 4000 kilograms of the plant is required. Other Essential Oils like lavender, on the other hand, require around 45 kilograms of plant material to extract roughly 450 grams of oil.
  • It is important to bear in mind that Essential Oils are not oils in the strict sense of the word. Rather, they are liquid extracts that often need to be diluted with carrier oils (or “real” oils) such as, alcohols, butters and waxes. Based on their concentrated nature, it is favourable and desirable that the oils are diluted as undiluted contact to the skin may result in many possible discomforts.
  • Not all Essential Oils will cause discomfort when applied to the skin directly and in an undiluted fashion. Some oils, albeit the minority, are safe to apply to the skin undiluted. Stephanie Tourles – author of Organic Body Care Recipes – notes that lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood and rose geranium oil are safe to apply directly.
  • Undiluted Essential Oils should never be applied to a baby or small child’s skin. Children’s skin are a great deal thinner than that of adults and are thus a lot more sensitive to the potency of Essential Oils. Since children are so receptive to the potency of these oils, you can use only half of the recommended amount of Essential Oils in the recipe and you will still achieve the desired result.
  • There are a couple of Essential Oils that are best avoided during pregnancy (and especially during the first trimester). These include aniseed, cedarwood, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, ginger, jasmine, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary and sage.
  • It is helpful to apply basic safety precautions when using or coming into contact with Essential Oils, such as keeping the oils out of the reach of children, avoiding any contact of the oil with your eyes and testing for any reaction from the application of Essential Oils.
  • To test if you exhibit any sensitivity to an Essential Oil, dilute one drop of the oil with ½ a tablespoon of carrier oil, like olive or sweet almond oil. Then rub the mixture on the inside, upper part of your arm and keep an eye on it for a couple of hours thereafter. Should any itching or redness occur, you are most likely experiencing a reaction. This only happens occasionally, but prevention is always better than cure.
  • Most Essential Oils are for external use only and not to be consumed internally. It is generally accepted that there is little need to ingest Essential Oils as their benefits are pronounced enough when used externally.
  • Not all Essential Oils are of the same quality. This means that if you come across Essential Oils that are priced a lot lower than its competitors, it is likely that the range of oils is of a lower quality. Such oils are ideal for using around the house, like for cleaning and other green household uses. That being said, a small variation in the prices of Essential Oils that are priced toward the higher range will not necessarily allude to a great difference in quality either.
  • To help you ascertain the level of purity and quality of an Essential Oil, all you need to do is put a small drop of the oil onto a piece of construction paper to see how it responds. If it leaves a ring on the paper, the Essential Oil is likely diluted with other oil by the manufacturer. If, however, the oil evaporates quickly and leaves no noticeable ring, you can be assured that the oil is pure.
  • Essential Oils boast a particularly long shelf-life too, with some oils lasting as long as a decade. Given that the oils are also greatly concentrated, only a tiny amount is needed at a time. This means that you can invest in good quality oils and rest assured that you will be able to reap their benefits for years to come. That being said, citrus oils are an exception to this norm, though, and may see a slight reduction in potency after two years or so.
  • Storing your Essential Oils in dark glass bottles and out of direct sunlight will help preserve their potency.
  • It is important to bear in mind that if you are allergic to any food, you will also be allergic to it in its Essential Oil form.

Why Use Essential Oils?

With the myriad of therapeutic benefits, Essential Oils boast an elaborate list of uses.  Some of the popular ways in which these oils are used include inhalation of the aroma of the oils, using a diffuser, bathing in the oils and massaging the body with the oils.

Due to their miniscule size, Essential Oils are quickly absorbed and carried throughout the body into blood vessels and tissue so as to rapidly improve your overall wellbeing.

For example, once absorbed into the bloodstream, Essential Oils can increase the amount of oxygen transported to the limbic system (such as the pineal and pituitary glands).  With the additional oxygen, the rate antibodies, neurotransmitters and endorphins are release is accelerated which is greatly beneficial to the entire body.

Essential Oils further stimulate the amygdale in the brain to better process and respond to anxiety, anger, fear and depression.  The mere act of smelling an Essential Oil can, as a result, help a person deal with the myriad of negative emotions.

Essential Oils do not only possess therapeutic benefits, however, but also hold a host of other substantial uses such as:

  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-Cancer
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiseptic
  • Antibiotic
  • Relaxing
  • Rejuvenating
  • Calming
  • Pain Relieving
  • Improved Concentration
  • Mood Enhancement
  • Improved Overall Emotional Health
  • Improved Overall Physical Health
  • Improved Overall Spiritual Wellness

It is important to further note that, due to the natural nature of Essential Oils, it does not result in any of the dangerous side-effects commonly associated with commercialised pharmaceutical drugs, making it the ideal staple for any health conscious person’s medicine cabinet. Considering the rate at which super germs and bugs are evolving, the rate at which the effectiveness of antibiotics is dropping, the increase in addictions to pain killers as well as the long list of side effects these drugs may cause, why would you not want to invest in alternative effective health solutions?

*Bear in mind that due to the fact that Essential Oils are mostly extracted from hundreds of natural ingredients (which may be affected by a variety of influencers such as the environmental conditions), no two batches of Essential Oils are exactly the same.  This is a huge advantage when considering that it is exactly this lack of complete uniformity that results in Essential Oils being so difficult to synthesize, and that results in super bugs not being able to grow resistant to these oils.

Read more about the specific benefits of Essential Oils here.

Oils mentioned in the Bible

Scriptures: Numbers 24:6; Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Solomon 4:14; John 19:39

Scriptures: Exodus 30:24; Ezekiel 27:19; Psalm 45:8

CEDARWOOD* (Cedrus atlantica)
Scriptures: Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 52; Numbers 19:6

CYPRESS* (Cupressus sempervirens)
Scriptures: Genesis 6:14; Isaiah 41:19; 44:14; I Kings 9:11; Song of Solomon 1:17

FRANKINCENSE* (Boswellia carteri)
Scriptures: Exodus 30:34; Leviticus 2:1, 5:11, 6:15, 24:7; Numbers 5:15; I Chronicles 9:29; Nehemiah 13:5, 9; Song of Solomon 3:6; 4:6, 14; Isaiah 43:23; 60:6; 66:3; Jeremiah 6:20; 17:26; 41:5; Matthew 2:11; Revelation 18:13

GALBANUM* (Ferula gummosa)
Scriptures: Exodus 30:24

HYSSOP* (Hyssopus officinalis)
Scriptures: Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 51, 52; Numbers 19:6, 18; I Kings 4:33; Psalm 51:7; John 19:29; Hebrews 9:19

MYRRH* (Commiphora myrrha)
Scriptures: Genesis 37:25; 43:11; Exodus 30:23, 34; Esther 2:12; Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Solomon 1:13; 3:6; 4:6, 14; 5:1, 5, 13; Matthew 2:11; Mark 15:23; John 19:39; Revelation 18:13

MYRTLE* (Myrtus communis) Obtained from shrubs and trees and steam distilled. The Hebrew name for Queen Esther was Hadassah which means myrtle.
Scriptures: Nehemiah 8:15; Isaiah 41:19; 55:13; Zechariah 1:8, 10, 11

ONYCHA* (Styrax benzoin)
Scriptures: Exodus 30:34

ROSE OF SHARON/CISTUS* (Cistus ladanifer)
Scriptures: Song of Solomon 2:1

SPIKENARD* (Nardostachys jatamansi)
Scriptures: Song of Solomon 1:2; 4:13, 14; Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37; John 12:3