Essential Oils

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the fragrant, highly concentrated natural constituents that are found in plants. They are what give the plant its characteristic odour and contain the healing power of the plant from which it was extracted. When used correctly, essential oils bring a wide range of health benefits since unlike modern drugs, they have no side-effects.

A typical essential oil will contain more than 100 different chemical compounds, each of which exhibits a specific therapeutic property, and it is for this reason that many essential oils can be used for such a wide range of conditions. Virtually all essential oils possess antiseptic properties, but many also have antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Essential oils are located in tiny secretory structures found in various parts of plants such as leaves (eucalyptus), berries (juniper), grasses (palmarosa), flowering tops (lavender), petals (rose), roots (angelica), zest of fruit (orange), resins (frankincense) and wood (cedar).

How are essential oils extracted?

Mostly, essential oils are obtained by steam distillation although other methods are used. Citrus fruits are cold pressed by mechanical means, and the oil from delicate flowers is obtained by a more sophisticated method that produces what is known as an absolute - not an essential oil. This special process is used because delicate flowers can not withstand the high temperatures needed to extract essential oils by steam distillation.

After extraction, the resulting essential oil is a highly concentrated liquid that contains the aroma and therapeutic properties of the source from which it came. Nothing should be added or removed from this oil if it is to be used in aromatherapy. To achieve maximum therapeutic benefits, essential oils should be exactly as they came from the still - 100% pure and natural. A true essential oil.

Standardised essential oils

Some industries reprocess essential oils in order to make them meet a required odour or flavour 'profile'. To achieve this, synthetic chemicals are added to the essential oil and often certain unwanted non-fragrance components are removed (rectification). This 'standardisation' is common practice in the perfumery and flavour industries in order to maintain absolute consistency in fragrance or taste, and this is fine. However, this practice is totally unacceptable if the essential oil is for use in aromatherapy. To Quinessence, this is adulteration - not standardisation.

Adulterated essential oils may often smell acceptable to the untrained nose, but because they are extended with synthetic chemicals or diluted with vegetable oil it makes them extremely poor value for money. Not only that, but if an essential oil has been standardised, adulterated or adjusted in any way it simply won't be as effective. Adulterated essential oils are aften the cause if skin sensitisation and irritation - completely the opposite of what we aim to achieve in aromatherapy.

Look for purity in essential oils

This is why you should always buy essential oils from long established and trusted aromatherapy suppliers who specialise in supplying therapeutically active essential oils for aromatherapy, and not the more common commercial grade that have been adjusted to meet the requirements of the perfumery or flavouring industries. To meet the high quality for aromatherapy, an essential oil should be extracted from a single botanical species that has been botanically authenticated, and derived from a known country of origin.

To be 100% pure, nothing should be added or taken away from the oil after extraction. To enable us to meet this requirement, every essential oil supplied by Quinessence has been analytically tested for purity using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) to establish its purity. This is why all our oils are guaranteed to be pure, natural and unadulterated.

The science bit

The chemistry of an essential oil is extremely complex, and a typical example of an oil will contain an elaborate mixture of aromatic constituents such as alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, lactones, phenols, terpenes and sesquiterpenes that combine to produce a unique set of therapeutic qualities.

This complex mixture of natural chemicals is what makes essential oils such effective healing agents; for example eucalyptus oil is refreshing and invigorating, eases muscular aches and pains, plus it is a very powerful antiseptic agent. This means that in aromatherapy there are several ways to use essential oils to enjoy using your essential oils to promote physical and emotional health and well-being.

Health benefits of essential oils

Essential oils possess a wide range of healing properties that can be used effectively to keep you in the best of health as well as looking good. These health-giving benefits include improving the complexion of your skin by stimulating cellular renewal, easing aches and pains, balancing roller-coaster emotions and fighting bacteria, fungi and other forms of infection. Essential oils have an almost endless list of therapeutic uses, and science continues to discover more about them every year.

But be sure of achieving text-book results, you must use essential oils of the very highest quality, sourced by experts, from the finest producing regions around the world. Although cheaper essential oils may appear to save you money, they will certainly not deliver the results that you are entitled to expect. Therefore you will have wasted your hard-earned cash.

Quinessence are committed to supplying only the very finest, organic essential oils produced from ecologically grown products, so we work closely with farmers to ensure as much as humanly possible that our essential oils are produced from plants that have not been subjected to the use of pesticides or herbicides.

To guarantee this level of quality and purity, every essential oil is subjected to the most searching analytical procedures, including GC/MS chromatography.

Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2002. Written by

If you enjoyed this article, please click the 'Like' button and help spread the word:

Next How to Use Essential Oils

See also Quinessence Essential Oils Range

FREE Special Report!

17 Ways To Use Essential Oils Around The Home

Free Aromatherapy Report

Discover lots of easy ways to experience the joy of essential oils by create a beautifully relaxing, fragrant haven, - right in your own home!

Simply enter your name and email address below and we will email you the link to your free report, plus you will receive our newsletter 'Aromatherapy Lifestyle' each month containing exclusive, hugely discounted Special Offers, expert Articles, Skincare tips, Recipes and much, much more.