As with all Essential Oils, Do not take
internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner or it is
directed by a physician. Keep out of reach of children. Not for those with
epilepsy or subject to seizures. Always conduct a skin patch test before
using any Essential Oil on your skin.
QUES. 1 : What is the
Ancient history of Essential Oils?
ANS. : Essential
oils are the oldest and some of the most powerful therapeutic agents known
to man. They have a long history of use in healing and in religious ceremony
throughout the ancient World. Some, particularly frankincense, are cited
repeatedly in many Judeo-Christian and Muslim religious texts.
were used to cure every ailment "from gout to a broken head."
Others, such as myrrh, lotus, and sandalwood oils were widely used in
ancient Egyptian purification and embalming rituals. Still others, such as
clove and lemon, were highly valued as antiseptics hundreds of years before
the discovery of modern antiseptics. The National Geographic reported in
October of 1985 that almost 1,000 years before Christ, dynasties of the
ancient world were fighting over the lucrative incense market. Caravans of
3,000 camels transported costly frankincense along the Frankincense Trail, a
2,400-mile-long road that stretched from southern Arabia to the coast of
Israel. It appears that the ancient Egyptians were the first to recognize
the therapeutic potential of essential oils.
fragrances for personal use as well as for ritualistic and ceremonial use in
the temples and pyramids. Many mixtures were composed of myrrh oil and
honey. Myrrh was most often used for embalming, due to its effectiveness in
preventing bacterial growth. The Romans used essential oils by diffusing
them in their temples and political buildings. They were fond of soaking in
oil-scented baths, then receiving a fragrant oil massage. The ancient
Arabian people began to study the chemical properties of essential oils.
They developed and refined the distillation process. Europeans
began producing essential oils in the 12th century. During the Plague of the
Middle Ages, a band of thieves robbed the dead without becoming infected.
Finally, four thieves were captured in Marseilles, France, and charged with
robbing the dead and dying victims of the plague. It was disclosed that
these thieves were perfumers and spice traders who had rubbed themselves
with a concoction of aromatic herbs (cinnamon, clove, and oregano), which
was the source of their immunity.
QUES. 2 : What is the Modern
ANS. : The modern rediscovery of the
value of essential oils is attributed to French cosmetic chemist, René-Maurice
Gattefossé, Ph.D. In July of 1910, a lab explosion set him aflame.
After extinguishing the flames, he discovered that his hands were quickly
developing gas gangrene. But just one rinse with lavender essential oil
stopped the horrible process.
Healing began the next day. His
discovery was quite accidental -- he had plunged his arm into a vessel that
he assumed was water. But it actually contained pure lavender oil ( Lavender
Hybrid Oil - Lavendula officinalis ). With regular application of Lavender
oil, the wound healed without a scar. French physician, Dr. Jean Valnet,
used therapeutic-grade essential oils on patients suffering battlefield
injuries during World War II. He was able to save the lives of many soldiers
who might otherwise have died, even with antibiotics. Dr. Valnet's
students, Dr. Paul Belaiche and Dr. Jean Claude Lapraz, expanded his work.
They clinically investigated the antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and
antiseptic properties in essential oils.
QUES. 3 : What are
the Essential Oils ?
ANS. : Essential oils are
highly concentrated natural plant extracts; a drop or two can produce
significant results. An entire plant, when distilled, might produce only a
single drop of essential oil. That is why their potency is far greater than
dried herbs. Pressing or distillation extracts the subtle, volatile liquids
(meaning they evaporate quickly) from plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, roots,
bushes, and seeds, that make up essential oils. Essential oils are the
life-blood of the plant, protecting it from bacterial and viral infections,
cleansing breaks in its tissue and delivering oxygen and nutrients into the
cells. In essence, they act as the immune system of the plant.
is why they are so essential to the plant -- without them, plants could not
survive. In the human body, they have a similar action -- such as
transporting valuable nutrients to the cells; increasing oxygen intake, and
digesting toxic waste in the blood. This is because the three primary
elements - carbon, hydrogen and oxygen-are common to both human beings and
essential oils. This shared chemistry makes essential oils one of the most
compatible of all plant substances with human biochemistry.
oils are very different from vegetable oils (also called fatty oils), such
as corn oil, olive oil, peanut oil, etc. Fatty oils are produced by pressing
nuts or seeds. They are quite greasy, are not antimicrobial nor help
transport oxygen, and will go rancid over time. Essential oils, however, are
not greasy nor do they clog the pores like vegetable oils can.
4 : What are the different types of Essential Oils
: Essential oils are obtained by different methods - distillation being
the most familiar. There are four types of essential oils :-
Absolutes vs. concretes
Absolutes are "essences," rather
than "essential" oils. They are generally obtained from the
extraction of a concrete. A concrete is the solid waxy residue derived from
hexane extraction of plant material (usually the flower petals). To prepare
the absolute from the concrete, the waxy concrete is warmed and stirred.
During this process the concrete breaks up into minute globules. The
absolute or the wax-free material is finally extracted by subjecting the
purified solution to cold filtration.
Cold Pressing /
Expressed Although many citrus oils are also produced by steam
distillation, they seem to lack the vibrancy of the cold pressed oils. In
this process, machines are used to score the peel/rind of the citrus and the
resulting oil is captured. Expressed oils are pressed from the rind of
fruits (usually citrus). Tangerines, grapefruits, lemons and oranges are
produced by this method. Technically speaking, these are not "essential
oils" - they are expressed oils, but they are highly regarded for their
therapeutic properties, none the less. It is best to use only organically
grown crops for this method, since pesticide residues, especially highly
toxic, oil-soluble carbamate and chloride-based petrochemicals, can become
highly concentrated in the oil.
Solvent extraction involves the use of oil-soluble solvents, such as hexane,
dimethylenechloride, and acetone. This method of distillation is the most
ancient and is still used in most countries. In this method of extraction,
the plants are fully submerged in water, till a soup is formed. This soup is
then heated and the resultant steam contains the aromatic plant molecules.
Perforated trays of blossoms are loaded onto an extracting unit and washed
repeatedly with an appropriate solvent. The filterate is then subjected to
low pressure distillation and the solvent is recovered for further use. What
remains is a waxy mass called the concrete containing the volatile oil. The
waxy material is removed by processing the concentrated concretes, and the
dilute form of the pure essential oil is formed. This solvent extraction
actually yields three usable products; the concrete, the absolutes and the
floral waxes. These floral waxes can be added to candles, thickening creams
and lotions to provide a floral scented alternative to beeswax.
Distillation True Steam distillation involves the use of an outside
source of steam. This steam is piped into the distillation unit at high
pressure. The steam passes through the material, carrying the most volatile
chemicals of the material with it and exits into the condenser. A condenser
is used to chill the steam and the resultant distillate is collected. Plant
material is inserted into a cooking chamber, and steam is passed through it.
After the steam is collected and condensed, it is processed through a
separator to collect the oil. The amount of pressure used, the amount of
time the plant material is steamed and the material the steam chamber is
constructed of contribute a great deal to the quality of the oil.
& Steam distillation This method is best for distilling leafy
materials, but doesn't work well for tough materials like woods, roots,
QUES. 5 : What are the different types of Essential
ANS. : Historically, there have been three
models for using essential oils : the French, the German, and the English
methods. The English traditionally dilute a small amount of Essential oil in
Vegetable oil and massage the body to relax and relieve stress. The French
prefer to ingest ( swallow ) therapeutic-grade essential oils. Many French
practitioners have found that taking the oils internally is highly
The Germans recommend inhalation of the essential oils.
There is good reason for this - research has shown that these aromatic
compounds can exert strong effects on the brain, especially on the
hypothalamus ( the hormone command center of the body ) and the limbic
system ( the seat of emotions ). Some essential oils can dramatically
increase oxygenation and activity in the brain. Oils also increase ozone and
negative ions, which inhibit bacterial growth. European scientists have
found that essential oils work as natural chelators, bonding to metallic and
chemicals and carrying them out of the body. Diffused essential oils make
outstanding air filtration systems, helping to remove dust particles from
the air and destroying odors from mold, cigarettes, animals, etc. When
diffused, the oils reach the brain by means of the olfactory system.
olfactory membranes have about 800 million nerve endings that receive
micro-fine, vaporized oil particles. They carry them along the axon of the
nerve fibers and connect them with the secondary neurons in the olfactory
bulb. The impulses are then transported to the limbic system and the
olfactory sensory center at the base of the brain. Then they pass between
the pituitary and pineal gland and move to the amygdala - the memory center.
The impulses than travel to the gustatory center where the sensation of
taste is perceived. The best method of application depends on the need. In
some cases, inhalation might be preferred over topical application if the
goal is to induce weight loss or balance mood and emotions. In other cases,
topical application would produce better results, as in the case of muscle
or spinal injuries.
For indigestion, peppermint oil taken orally
is very effective. Yet peppermint can also produce the same results when
massaged on the stomach. In some cases, all three methods of application
(topical, inhalation and ingestion) are interchangeable and may produce
similar benefits. The two most common methods of essential oil application
are cold-air diffusing and neat ( undiluted ) topical application. Healing
response is greatly enhanced when essential oils are incorporating into the
disciplines of reflexology, Vita Flex, acupressure, acupuncture, auricular
techniques, lymphatic massage, spinal touch, and the Raindrop Technique.
QUES. 6 : What makes Essential Oils Therapeutic-Grade ?
: Essential oils come from various parts of plants - the seeds, bark,
leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and fruit. The oils can be distilled from the
plant material or extracted. The majority are distilled. The key to
producing a therapeutic-grade essential oil is to preserve as many of the
delicate aromatic compounds within the essential oil as possible - elements
that are very fragile and destroyed by high temperature and high-pressure.
Contact with chemically reactive metals ( i.e., copper or aluminum ) is
another danger to the fragile aromatic compounds in oils. To insure a high
grade of essential oil, it is imperative to use stainless steel cooking
equipment at low pressure and low temperature for long periods of time. The
purity of an essential oil is also determined by its chemical constituents.
There are many variables that can affect these constituents. These can
> Soil conditions
> Quality of fertilizer
> Harvest season
> Distillation process
> The part or parts of
the plant used for distillation
One plant can produce several
different chemotypes ( biochemical variations ). The chemotypes vary
according to climate, altitude and growing conditions. For example, the
later thyme is distilled in the growing season ( i.e., late summer or fall
), the more thymol the oil will contain. If it is distilled in the early
summer, thymol levels will be very low; hence, the oil will be less
effective, if at all. Essential oils grown with agrochemicals can be
dangerous. Pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers can react with
the essential oil during distillation.
Natural essential oils
contain hundreds of different chemical compounds. Although chemists have
managed to recreate some of the constituents and fragrances of oils, there
are many molecules and isomers that are impossible to manufacture in the
laboratory. There simply are no substitutes for the purest essential oils.
QUES. 7 : How Toxic and Adulterated Oils are Mislabeling ?
: Adulteration of Essential Oils is becoming more and more common these
days. As the demand for them grows, the supply of top-grade essential oils
dwindles/falls. The temptation to thin the oils with solvents, then add
synthetic fragrance is great. In the last several years, France exported 100
times more lavender oil than it produced.
This can only be
possible if the oil is being thinned. Frankincense is very commonly
adulterated. This essential oil requires 12 hours of steam distillation from
expensive resin to be therapeutic-grade. Lemon oil is another commonly
adulterated essential oil. Terpene waste fractions left over from the
industrial refining of citrus products and/or synthetic limonene is often
purchased from chemical houses and used to dilute or "extend"
genuine lemon oil. The most commonly adulterated oils include frankincense,
myrrh, lemon, peppermint, cistus, helichrysum, lavender and birch or
wintergreen, although all essential oils may be adulterated easily.
consumers do not know that adulterated oils can cause rashes, burning, and
skin irritations. The petrochemical solvents in them can cause intense
allergic reactions and toxic accumulations. And that they are devoid of any
therapeutic benefits whatsoever. It is very important to know about the
integrity of the company from whom you are buying the essential oil. In
addition, some bottles do not contain the oil stated on the label. Oils
marked as "clove" may be distilled from the leaf instead of the
bud. Clove leaf oil is less expensive but does not have the same chemistry
or therapeutic properties as clove bud oil. Many times, essential oils
marked "cinnamon" are actually "cassia." Birch oil is
often really Wintergreen -- at least in this case, the oils are nearly
But, very often, synthetic methyl salicylate is added
to low-grade birch or wintergreen oils to "improve" its quality.
As you can see, labeling can be very misleading - considering there is no
agency responsible for certifying that an essential oil is therapeutic
grade. It is up to the consumer/buyers to educate himself or herself and
know the difference.
QUES. 8 : What is the Fragrance Factor ?
: Aromatherapy means to treat with aroma through inhalation. Research
has shown that we respond to aroma within one to three seconds. Scientists
are just beginning to explore how aroma reaches and influences the human
brain, emotions and body.
An oil's fragrance is created when vapor
evaporates from it. The heavier the molecular weight of the oil, the less
volatile it is (the less it will evaporate). Oils with lighter molecular
weights, evaporate or 'flash off' quickly. Therefore, the scents of lavender
or geranium last only about 20 minutes. Heavier oils such as myrrh,
frankincense, sandalwood, and patchouly evaporate slower, and therefore,
their scent lasts longer.
Have you ever noticed that a scent or
fragrance can instantly evoke a memory or an emotion on an unconscious
level? This is because the sense of smell is the only one of the five senses
that is directly linked to the limbic lobe of the brain - the emotional
control center. Emotions such as anxiety, depression, fear, anger, as well
as joy all emanate from this region.
The limbic lobe can also
directly activate the hypothalamus - the "master gland." The
hypothalamus functions as the hormonal control center of the body. It
releases chemical messengers that affect the production of growth hormones,
sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and neurotransmitters. Essential oils,
through their fragrance and molecular structure, can directly stimulate both
the limbic lobe and the hypothalamus. In this way, essential oils can
exert/apply a profound/deep effect on the body and the mind.
9 : What is the Essential Oils Chemistry ?
ANS. : Essential
oils are made up of many chemical constituents. No two oils are alike in
their structure or their effects. Each constituent has its own action, or
effects. For example, the ketones found in lavender, hyssop and patchouly,
stimulate cell regeneration.
Whereas, phenols, found in oregano
and thyme oil, are highly antimicrobial. Because, the chemistry of essential
oils is very complex, essential oils are diverse in their effects. This also
supports their antimicrobial effects, due to the wide variety of antiseptic
compounds in essential oils, makes the mutation of microorganisms extremely
difficult. In l985, Dr. Jean C. Lapraz stated that no microbe could survive
in the presence of the essential oils of cinnamon or oregano.
10 : What is the basic Chemical Structure ?
Essential oils molecules
are made up primarily of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.The aromatic
constituents of essential oils are built from hydrocarbon chains (carbon and
hydrogen atoms). They are normally joined together in ring-like chemical
The chains are held together by carbon atoms linked
together. Oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, and other carbon atoms attach
at various points of the chain, to make up the different oils. The
aromatic-ring structure of essential oils is much more complex than the
simpler, linear carbon-hydrogen structure of fatty oils. Essential oils also
contain sulfur and nitrogen atoms that fatty oils do not have. The basic
building block of many essential oils is a five-carbon molecule called an
Most essential oils are built from isoprene. This is the
building block that makes up the terpenoids. When two isoprene units link
together, they create a monoterpene; when three join, they create a
sesquiterpene; and so forth. Triterpenoids are some of the largest molecules
found in essential oils. They consist of 30 carbon atoms -- or six isoprene
units linked together.
Different molecules in the same essential
oil can exert different effects. For example, the azulene in German
chamomile has powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. The bisobolol German
chamomile also contains has sedative and mood-balancing properties. Other
compounds in German chamomile perform still different functions, such as
speeding the regeneration of tissue. This is because the chemical structure
of an essential oil determines its function. Phenols generally create
Carvacrols have anti-inflammatory activity
and Limonines are antiviral. A single species of plant can have several
different chemotypes based on its chemical composition. A plant such as
basil grown in one area might produce an essential oil with a completely
different chemistry than basil grown in another location. But, the main
components of the basil oil remains always the same even the plant is
cultivated in different area.