What are essential oils?
Where do essential oils come from? How are essential oils made?
For those of you who are new to aromatherapy and confused about why essential oils have such amazing natural benefits...let’s go back to basics. You have all probably heard of essential oils being used in bath products, cleaning products and massage oils but what exactly are they?
Essential oils are quite literally the essence of the plants they come from. They are concentrated liquids containing the parts of the plant that attract pollinators, deter pests and essentially smell nice. They are made from flowers, trees, herbs, spices, shrubs, shoots and all sorts of greenery. But they don’t just smell nice...they are full of goodness for your mind, body and soul and it’s for that reason that they have been used for centuries for all things from religious incense, to medicine, to food flavouring.
Scientifically speaking, an essential oil is comprised of hundreds of chemical constituents, the combination of which provides plants with distinctive qualities and healing properties. Their function in nature is to provide protection from predators or rather threatening influences, and promote healthy reproduction, contributing to attracting pollinators and other vital processes.
To better appreciate the value of essential oils, it helps to understand how they assist their own plant to flourish in their environment. For example, the Melaleuca tree is found growing in hot, humid, swampy environment in Australia. If you think about the number of microbes growing in such a warm, moist area and the natural breeding ground this creates for mould, fungus and bacteria you can appreciate what a strong internal immune system this plant must have in order to survive. The magic lies in the aromatic compounds of the tree which are naturally antiseptic, anti bacterial, anti fungal and analgesic in their nature.
Getting essential oils from plants is done by a process called distillation, most commonly by steam or water. After distillation, the outcome is a highly concentrated portion of essential oil, which will have the characteristic fragrance and properties of the plant from which it was extracted, and contain the true essence of the plant it came from. This includes the smell, but also the plant’s healing properties and other plant characteristics. Since humans are carbon-based just like plants, extracted essential oils are compatible and beneficial, and we can use the oils to strengthen our own protection from microbes.
Recognition of essential oils as powerful promoters of physical, mental and emotional health is rapidly expanding. Backed by scientific validation, the rediscovery of holistic self-care with oils is demonstrated in the wide range of popular uses for improving mood, rejuvenating the skin and overall health, cooking and cleaning. They are fast becoming the number one choice as THE natural way to keep oneself and loved ones healthy.