Blog post by Tina Winterlik
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is "essential" in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant.
Essential oils do not, as a group, have any specific chemical or pharmaceutical properties in common. Instead, they are defined by the fact that they convey characteristic fragrances. It follows that the common tendency to speak of essential oils as a category, as if that implied anything in particular about their medical, pharmacological, or culinary properties, is highly unreliable and often actually dangerous.
Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. Other processes include expression, or solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products.
Various essential oils have been used medicinally at different periods in history. Medical application proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to remedies for cancer, and often are based on nothing better than historical accounts of use of essential oils for these purposes. Claims for the efficacy of medical treatments and treatment of cancers in particular, are now subject to regulation in most countries, and to avoid criminal liability, suppliers of fringe remedies are becoming increasingly vague in what they promise.
As the use of essential oils has declined in evidence-based medicine, one must consult older textbooks for much information on their use. Modern works are less inclined to generalize; rather than refer to "essential oils" as a class at all, they prefer to discuss specific compounds, such as methyl salicylate, rather than "oil of wintergreen".
Interest in essential oils has revived in recent decades with the popularity of aromatherapy, a branch of alternative medicine that claims that essential oils and other aromatic compounds have curative effects. Oils are volatilized or diluted in a carrier oil and used in massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer, heated over a candle flame, or burned as incense.
The techniques and methods first used to produce essential oils was first mentioned by Ibn al-Baitar (1188–1248), an Andalusian physician, pharmacist and chemist. Read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_oil
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Essential oils, known as nature’s living energy, are the natural, aromatic volatile liquids found in shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds. The distinctive components in essential oils defend plants against insects, environmental conditions, and disease. They are also vital for a plant to grow, live, evolve, and adapt to its surroundings. Essential oils are extracted from aromatic plant sources via steam distillation, and are highly concentrated and far more potent than dry herbs.
While essential oils often have a pleasant aroma, their chemical makeup is complex and their benefits vast—which makes them much more than something that simply smells good.
Historically, essential oils have played a prominent role in everyday life. With more than 200 references to aromatics, incense, and ointments throughout the Bible, essential oils are said to be used for anointing and healing the sick. Today, essential oils are used for aromatherapy, massage therapy, emotional health, personal care, nutritional supplements, household solutions, and much more.
Young Living Essential Oils, the leading provider of essential oils, offers more than 300 essential oil singles and blends. All Young Living essential oils meet the YLTG standard. This means that every essential oil Young Living distills or sources has the optimal naturally-occurring blend of constituents to maximize the desired effect. Only YLTG essential oils should be used for the primary methods of application, which include inhalation and application.
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The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
By Valerie Ann Worwood