Fundamentals of Essentials Oils

30. October 2016 Essential Oil 0
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The fundamentals of Essential oils have been used for thousands of years because of their aromatic, topical and ingestible therapeutic purposes.  They are derived from volatile aromatic compounds found in different parts of plants, such as leaves, stems, seeds, flowers and bark.  These essential oils give plants their distinct smells, like the smell of pine from a tree, lemon from a fruit, rosemary from a herb, or gardenia from a flower.

Records show there are over 3,000 types of volatile aromatic compounds that have been identified to date.  They can be used individually or in combination for specific desired emotional and/or physical benefits.

After years of using the application of essential oils in my massage practice, I have settled on one particular brand I can say with confidence maintains its consistency in purity and potency. Each doTerra oil is tested using the CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade quality protocol.

Essential oils are extracted using different distillation processes: steam distillation, cold pressing, solvent extractions.  The most common method of extraction is a low-heat steam distillation.  Steam passes through the plant, the vapor collects the essential oils released by the steam, which flows through a condenser and cools.  The oil will rise to the top of the water as it cools and is then collected.  Proper distillation involves extensive precision in the time of year/season, the amount of pressure from the steam and the temperature of the steam.  If not done properly, the aromatic compounds can easily be destroyed and lose there therapeutic benefits.

As research about essential oils continues to expand, greater knowledge about safe and appropriate aromatic, internal and ingestible application methods are evolving.  The sense of smell elicits powerful physiological, mental and emotional responses connected to the limbic system through the olfactory nerve. The limbic system is made up of four main structures that regulate emotion, memories and behavior.

To achieve therapeutic benefits of essential oils through the aromatic application(German Model), many will use an oil diffuser, a spray bottle or a cotton ball.

Topical application (English Model) is actually a two method application process because it absorbs through the skin but also elicits the limbic system through smell.  The essential oils are usually mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil because they are lipid soluble and will easily penetrate the skin. Beneficial areas to apply topical oils is the bottom of the feet, the arms, chest legs, abdomen, forehead, neck and temples. You can also add a few drops to a hot bath and/or your skin moisturizer.

Note: Caution should always be taken to ensure oils are not applied to broken/injured skin or areas around the eyes. Make sure to consult with a professional about the use of essential oils before using them over long periods of time.

Essential oils have many dietary benefits for supporting a variety of health conditions when ingested orally.  Contrary to past beliefs, modern advances in scientific studies show internal use of certain essential oils has many health benefits.  When ingested (French Model), essential oils are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, enter the blood stream and are transferred to various organs. Similar to other  medicines ingested orally, essential oils are metabolized by the liver before they are excreted.  Each oils individual properties has its own unique therapeutic effects.  The most effective delivery systems for internal essential oils is in foods and in liquids such as water, milk, tea, yoghurt.

A Glimpse at Historical Value :

Egypt – Have used plant-based products for beauty treatments, food preparations, burial rituals and religious ceremonies since 3000 BCE.  Most commonly used were frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon  peppercorn spice and camphor.

Greece – Dating back to 2000 BCE, studied aromatic plant resources from Egypt, influencing their work to find improved methods of extraction.

Rome – Known historically for using essential oils for massages, perfume and scented baths to improve health. Despite much of his written work being destroyed in a fire, the well documented surgeon Galen (130 – 200 AD), used plant extracts at the Roman Coliseum where he performed surgeries on the Gladiators.  His medical research influenced medicinal practices world-wide.

Iran – Avicenna (980 – 1037 AD), a Persian doctor is credited as the father of aromatherapy, leaving a legendary trail on the chemistry involved in his distillation experiments.  He is noted for isolating the scent of the rose.

IndiaAyurvedic tradition developed over 5, 000 years. The Ayurvedic us of aromatic plant compounds is taught in over 100 universities in India with much research being done to validate its protocols and practices.

China – Wide array of plant-based therapies for health and wellness.  Shennong left behind many protocols based on his research experiences that have been passed down through generations and continue to impact modern alternative health care.

France – Rene Gattefosse (1881 – 1950), a french chemist, is credited for coining the phrase “aromatherapy”.

With essential oils having such a worldwide and lengthy historical use, modern science accepts and supports the safety and the efficacy of the three application models: aromatic (German), ingestion (French), topical (English).  Research has discovered that using all three models together can be extremely beneficial when used appropriately.  As alternative medicine continues to expand its research and showcase its success, many  more people are turning to alternative methods of medicine to correct and enhance their heath and wellness .

Tips for choosing a high quality product:

  1.  Choose an oil that is free from synthetic compounds, heavy metals and microbial organisms.
  2. Choose oils that are subject to spectrometry, infrared        spectroscopy and gas chromatography to ensure consistent extract composition.
  3. Choose oil brands that meet organoleptic tests for consistency in taste, sight, touch and smell.

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References: embedded in article.

 

 

 


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