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What are Essential Oils?

on December 9, 2014

Spa scene with natural cosmetics


es·sen·tial oil
noun: essential oil; plural noun: essential oils

a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.

Essential oils have been around for ages, almost 6,000 years to be exact! The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used essential oils as medicinal treatments, in cosmetics and for perfumes. They were often used therapeutically, spiritually and held great reverence in rituals. Over the centuries essential oils were placed on the back burners and almost completely forgotten about until World War I, when a French chemist started studying lavender essential oil after he applied it to a burn he suffered from a laboratory explosion. It was then field tested on soldiers and the studies commenced. By the 1950’s, essential oils started to come back into play being used by massage therapists, homeopathic medical practitioners, beauticians and other health care providers. But it wasn’t until the 1980’s that essential oils started to become popular in the United States

Essential oils are super, duper concentrated extracts taken from all parts of the plants; roots, leaves, seeds, blossoms and bark. Each essential oil is 100% unique and has it’s own set of healing properties, better known as therapeutic actions.  The therapeutic action comes from the chemical compounds that are found in the plant. Due to the process of extracting the essential oil from the plant, only some of the chemical compounds are found in essential oils, making the whole herb a better choice for healing purposes.  That is not to say that essential oils are not highly prized for their healing abilities though!

Used properly, essential oils are a benefit to anyone’s life, but you need to use extreme caution when working with them. NEVER, and I do mean NEVER, take an essential oil by mouth and NEVER use undiluted essential oils on the skin unless you are under the care of a trained professional.  One drop of essential oil is the equivalent to about 30 cups of medicinal tea or 10 teaspoons of tincture and overdosing on essential oils is a real danger.

Are you interested in learning more about essential oils? Have you used them before? What’s your favorite oil and how do you use it?

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