Our ancient ancestors did not have the technology we have today. Therefore it is hard to compare today’s pure essential oils with those produced with crude equipment.
Volatile Organic compounds.
Volatile organic compound is the original scientific term for essential oils. The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes them as:
Essential oil, highly volatile substance isolated by a physical process from an odoriferous plant of a single botanical species. The oil bears the name of the plant from which it is derived; for example, rose oil or peppermint oil. Such oils were called essential because they were thought to represent the very essence of odour and flavour.”
These naturally occurring volatile oils are nature’s defence mechanism for plants and cells, found in the leaves, bark, stems and other parts of a plant. They protect the plant from environmental threats including infection, mould and bacteria. They are called volatile because they change quickly.
If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a flower you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils.
The perfume industry uses oils for their aromatic qualities. Due to the processes used in making perfumes all of the therapeutic benefits of the essential oil are lost.
Always use the purest and highest quality grade oils available. Anything less that CTPG “certified pure therapeutic grade” essential oils may not produce the desired benefits and in some cases be extremely toxic.
Essential oil molecules are so small and Lipid-Soluble that they can penetrate the skin and also cell membranes. It is because the molecules are so small that makes them amomatic. The only way something can be aromatic is for the molecule to be so small that they readily leap into the air and be detected as odour and smell. They can affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes and then be metabolised like other nutrients.
Some essential oils can pass through the blood-brain barriers and can impact the brain therapeutically. Even if an essential oil cannot cross the blood-brain barrier it can still affect the brain via the olfactory bulb.
There is no one size fits all approach to many pharmaceutical drugs so why should or would there be with essential oils.
We all have our unique set of circumstances, age, height, weight, sex, ethnicity. So why would there be just one way to treat any particular condition or need. This is called biochemical individuality.
There are numerous ways to achieve the desired result as long as you are open to trying different options.
Getting a good nights sleep is something that eludes many people. Lavender, essential oil is well known to be helpful for both relaxation and sleep. BUT to some people, it just doesn’t help. This is when biochemical individuality comes into play. Instead of giving up and saying essential oils don’t work, TRY ANOTHER ONE! In my experience I find citrus oils relaxing.
Herbal Extracts/Tincture V Essential Oils
Herbal extracts/tinctures are fresh or dried herbs that are placed in a liquid (alcohol for tinctures and glycerin for extracts). They are left to infuse for a period of time then the herb is removed leaving the active ingredient to be used in herbal remedies. These are commonly used by a Naturopath.
Essential oils capture the natural oil present in the plant through either steam distillation or in the case of citrus by cold pressing. Steam distillation uses water and heat creating steam to separate the oil from the plant. After it has been cooled the oil can be skimmed off the top.
Cold pressing is when pressure is applied commonly the peel or rind of citrus fruit and the oil is pressed out.
Because of the extraction methods used in today’s processes only a very small amount of oil is extracted from the raw materials. In the case of lavender, it takes 30lb/14kg to produce a 15ml bottle of essential oil.
Herbal Extracts/tinctures and essential oils are not interchangeable even though they can both be used therapeutically. There can often be a significant difference between the 2. Please consult a health care practitioner or wellness advocate where approporite.
Essential Oils & Emotions
The olfactory system is the portion of the brain that controls the sense of smell. When you inhale the aroma of an essential oil the scent is processed in the olfactory nerve. The olfactory system is connected to the limbic system of the brain where emotion and memories live. When you breathe in the scent of an essential oil, the limbic system creates a response in your brain based on your memories associated with that particular aroma.
At some stage in your life, you have possibly experienced a fragrance that triggered a powerful memory perhaps dating back years. The response to this type of stimuli is lightning fast and you can often feel a powerful emotional response.
This explains how aromatherapy affects emotions and can link them to memories.
Interestingly, the memory of a fragrance is held longer than that of the visual memory it is associated with.
Emotions are our feelings and can be influenced by many factors both internal and external. Many different systems in our body have an effect on our emotions including the brain, hormone, nervous and immune system. Experts are now studying the connection between the gut and the brain.
Research is showing essential oils have the ability to affect each of the bodies systems. This shows how they can be helpful when dealing with emotions.
You can see that inhaling a small drop of oil vapour can have a profound effect on the body, brain and emotions. Sometimes too many oil molecules overload the receptor sites and they freeze up without responding at all when a smaller amount would have been just right. Keep in mind that ‘sometimes less is better”.
Why I love Essential Oils!
I was the practice manager in a busy natural health clinic for 8 years. During my time there I got to experience many different natural therapies. I appreciate there is a time and place for each modality. Essential oils are by far my favourite go-to for both physical and emotional support.
Not a day that goes by where I don’t get some benefit for either diffusing, applying or using an essential oil internally. Essential oils, aid me with things such as body discomfort, sleep, respiratory discomfort and digestive issues to only name a few. My daily skin and hair care also contain essential oils.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.