Essential Oils, a Type of Plant Therapy or Medicine - What is it? How does it work?
There have always been healers using the benefits of essential oils by making poultices, salves, and medicinal teas from the raw plants.
Plant medicine (or plant based therapy) was the only medicine used for thousands of years until the pharmaceutical industry began to provide other options in the 1880s when they created “petrochemicals” (a chemical obtained from petroleum and natural gas) and started to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs.
Essential oils are the most powerful part of the plant.
An oil is "essential" in the sense that it contains the "essence of" the plant's fragrance—the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived. The term essential used here does not mean indispensable
Essential oils are distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, fruit, rinds, resins and herbs. Oils consist of over 100 different natural, organic components. There are almost 300 oils on the earth.
It was only in 1937 that it was given the name “aromatherapy” and this name is a bit misleading. I know I paid no attention to it and felt I didn’t need fragrances – probably due to not liking the tar-based perfumes I so often smell on others. I really didn’t understand the idea of using smells to enhance my health.
The medicinal power of plants is now becoming better known with essential oils and I now understand why. They provide support for every system in the body.
Additionally, they can be used in many combinations and they are safe.
Do you understand what essential oils are?
What is an essential oil?
An essential oil is the extraction of a plant’s “aromatic essence”. Plants have their own reason for making these essences.
Some plants use the oil to attract pollinators or to repel predators. It wards off insects and rodents and defends that plant from bacteria, viruses and fungus. In others, the oil discourages competitive species from growing too close. An essential oil can even serve as an antimicrobial system, keeping the plant protected and pest-free.
Essential oils can be used to manage pain, improve sleep quality, reduce stress, anti-inflammatory, improving mood, and soothing sore joints plus it has positive effects on the immune system and central nervous system.
Essential oils are created by glandular structures in the plant, either on the surface or internally. If you touch a lavender leaf, for example, you can smell the essential oil on your fingertips from the oil glands on the surface of the leaf. With a plant like eucalyptus, you have to break open the leaf to access the aromatic compounds.
When it comes to using essential oils for wellness, it’s often more practical—and accessible—to work with a concentrated essential oil than the raw plant itself.
What can be addressed with Essential Oils?
There is evidence that it can be used for:
Help for people who feel stressed or anxious enabling them to relax.
Stress or anxiety
Calming effects that lowers activation of the sympathetic nervous (responsible for fight or flight response. It addresses physical symptoms such as sweaty palms or a racing heart.
PMS or menopause symptoms
Skin problems or disorders, including bites, rashes, bruising, cellulite or acne.
Blood sugar fluctuations
Those people with insomnia, anxiety, or even restless leg syndrome and hot flashes that strike during the night have been known to benefit from sleep-inducing essential oils.
Certain essential oils have antiseptic properties that help cleanse the air of bacteria, fungus and mold that can contribute to respiratory problems, such as congestion, coughing or sneezing.
Research shows that using citrus oils can help improve overall immune function and reduce fatigue associated with depressive states. It’s been found that aromatic oils, such as orange and lemon (those with a citrus fragrance) among other things are energizing.
Essential oils that can help you overcome sinus infections, allergies, colds, the flu or coughs, and fatigue.
Diluted essential oils can be spritzed onto the skin or scalp to reduce acne, dandruff, cellulite, toe fungus, itching, inflammation from bites, and rashes and to improve wound healing. They have antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal and other cleansing qualities.
To help soothe tight or tense muscles, achy joints, inflamed tissue injuries, or pain from headaches, a combination of different oils can be inhaled or applied to the troubled area.
A few of the studies done: (studies done calling it Aromatherapy)
Results from one study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that patients who received essential oils therapy reported significantly greater improvement in their mood and perceived levels of anxiety and felt less anxious and more positive immediately following the therapy.
One study published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care found that aromatherapy helped hospice patients decrease pain, anxiety and depression, and promote an increased sense of well-being.
An International Journal of Neuroscience study involving 40 patients experiencing depressed moods and mental fatigue found that aromatherapy positively affects alertness, competency on testing (in this case regarding math problems) and improves overall mood.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Basic Physiology and Pharmacology found that turmeric (Curcuma longa) and ginger (Zingiber officianale) essential oils which are widely used in Asian countries as traditional medicine and food ingredients, have strong gastro-protective activities, including anti-ulcer potential.
How are essential oils made?
There are two main ways to collect a plant’s essential oil. All methods require a deep understanding of how and when to harvest plant material for maximal yield of the best and most powerful aromatics.
The oldest and most common method is,
The most common method of producing essential oils is steam distillation of the essential oil of the plant.
Citrus oils are obtained by expression (also known as cold-pressing or expeller-pressing, the former being a temperature-controlled process).
Grades of Oils
There is no rating system. The closest we get is an FDA requirement that in order to be labelled as an essential oil, or "pure" or "therapeutic" the bottle must contain at least 5% oil.
However, there are four categories: Grade A, B, C & D
Grade A - It is therapeutic. It is made from organically grown plants and distilled at low temperature.
Grade B - These oils are food grade (safe for consumption), but may contain synthetics, pesticides, fertilizers, chemical extenders (A substanceadded to anothersubstance to modify,dilute, or add to it), or carrier oils
Carrier oil (also known as base oil or vegetable oil) is used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before they are applied to the skin. They are so named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin.
Grade C - Are the perfume oils. They contain added chemicals. They may also be diluted 89-95% with alcohol.
Grade D - Is called "floral water". It is aromatic. It is usually a byproduct of Grade A distillation.
Grade A is the only true pure oil. Anything else is like taking 5% of your favorite drink and diluting it with water.
How to use essential oils
Essential oils have been used for centuries. There’s still much research to be done on the healing potential of essential oils, it’s clear that they are powerful,
Here are a few easy, effective ways to use essential oils in your daily life:
Inhalation and diffusion
Inhalation is one of the easiest ways to use essential oils in your home. You can use a diffuser, sprinkle oils on the shower floor as you bathe, or drop them into a tissue and inhale them.
There’s mounting evidence to show that certain inhaled essential oils can help with conditions like migraines and anxiety.
There is evidence to support the use of lavender essential oil as a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory and topical antibiotic making it very handy to keep around for burns and bug bites.
Essential oils can also be applied to the skin in the form of skin care products. Of course, not all oils are appropriate for skin care, and the concentration is important, so make sure you’re getting oils from a company with an educated formulator.
Household cleaning products
Some essential oils, like lavender, cinnamon, geranium and thyme have powerful antibacterial properties, making them excellent choices for DIY home cleaning products. The Key
The key to achieving results from essential oils is to use pure, therapeutic-grade oils rather than those with synthetic ingredients or synthetic fragrances. The effectiveness of essential oil practices always depends on the quality of the oils used.
We researched the best oil to use. There are a lot of cheaper versions out there and quality is what you need for real plant medicine. You want Pure Therapeutic Grade Oils
When you buy oils you must make sure the company grows its own plants, owns their own fields, and controls the entire process from the field to the bottle. The plant is hand-weeded, no pesticides are used, no chemicals and harvested at their peak.
There are many oil companies and many buy their oils from the distiller so they have no control over the quality of seeds, how they are cultivated and harvested. Also there is no way of knowing whether they are pure essential oils in the bottle because FDA does not require all ingredients in the bottle to be on the label.
We have used our best judgment in compiling this information. The Food and Drug Administration may not have evaluated the information presented. Any reference to a specific product is for your information only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease