Today, I want to talk about essential oils. Since I will be referring to them often, it is best to cover the basics of them. Essential oils are, in the most simplified of descriptions, the most therapeutic chemical components of an herb or fruit incredibly condensed into tiny little drops of oil. We could talk about how they are extracted from the plant, but that’s more science than I have sanity for at this moment.
As implied above, essential oils are very therapeutic. Their medical qualities are astounding. A well-known example of this is Vick’s Vapor Rub. My sister actually brought this to my attention; Vick’s Vapor Rub contains as one of it’s active ingredients; Eucalyptus Essential Oil. It also contains menthol – a chemical compound that can also be found in Spearmint and Peppermint essential oils – and camphor – which is an herbal extract as well as a compound found in other essential oils such as Ravintsara, Sage and Rosemary Essential Oils. Vick’s includes these compounds because they are natural decongestants. In fact, many modern day medicines contain active ingredients that are derived from or reconstructed from chemical components found in nature. Aspirin is a primary example. It’s active ingredient, acetylsalicylic acid, was originally derived from Willow Bark. Wintergreen and Birch Essential Oils contain over 90% of Methyl Salicylate – making them basically the Aspirins of essential oils.
How are essential oils used? They can be applied directly to the skin, or diluted and applied to the skin, depending on the oil and the age of the person using the oil (children need much smaller quantities than adults). They can be inhaled, consumed, and injected into the vein. Most common, and most recommended, is skin application and inhalation. Many people believe essential oils should NEVER be consumed. And it is true that safe is better than sorry. But if done appropriately, using ONLY pure, unadulterated essential oils, many essential oils can be consumed. However, this is best done under the guidance of a certified clinical aromatherapist if one is not experienced and well-educated with essential oils. Most essential oil companies do not recommend the consumption of their oils, but this is usually more from an insurance standpoint than anything else.
Where do I buy them?
There are several companies that sell safe and pure essential oils. Some that come to mind are Mountain Rose Herbs, Eden’s Garden, Aura Cacia (this is the brand usually found in health stores), Young Living and do’TERRA. All of these brands sell pure, quality essential oils. Of these, Mountain Rose Herbs and Eden’s Garden are the most reasonably priced.
However, my favorite company is Plant Therapy. The reason I like them is they are also reasonably priced and do not adulterate their oils. But mostly, because they provide third party gc/ms testing results for each batch of each oil that they sell – something that I believe every single essential oil seller should do. There are other companies that also provide gc/ms but usually their prices are unnecessarily high.
Some people believe it is most important to buy essential oils grown in their natural and original habitat. So an essential oil originally from India should not be produced from plants grown in the United States. But this is not necessarily true. Many plants can produce quality essential oils in diverse locations. And many can’t. What is important, is what makes up the chemical components of the essential oil that the plant produces. This is where gc/ms testing comes into play. It basically tests the percentage of different chemical components contained within one sample of essential oil.
For example, if I want to inhale Ravintsara as a decongestant, it would not do me much good to use Ravintsara Essential Oil from a batch that is low in the compound Camphor. But if I had the gc/ms test results for the Ravintsara I purchased, I could rest assured that the essential oil that I am using will actually be as effective as possible because its components are in the proper range for therapeutic value.
For example, Tea Tree Essential Oil from Australia is considered a “premium” oil because of all Tea Tree Essential Oils extracted in various regions, Australia’s has the highest level of Terpinen-4-ol, which is what gives Tea Tree it’s therapeutic value. So I would want to look at the gc/ms testing and make sure that the batch I am looking to buy from contains at least 30% Terpinen-4-ol. If the batch does not contain a high level of the proper components, I may need to use more of it to accomplish the intended goal. And that may or may not be safe to do. And most certainly would be wasting money.
I say all this to say this; essential oils should be treated with the same level of care one would treat western drugs. They can be very powerful healers, but they’re also, well…very powerful. There are maximum doses. Dilution ranges. Chemical compounds. Safety concerns. Don’t be afraid of them. But please research. Or consult an aromatherapist.
On this blog, I will use essential oils a great deal. But understand that I only use them with the highest of respect, care, and a great deal of research.
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