Latin Name: commiphora guidotti

Forms Available: essential oil, resin

Opoponax – commiphora guidotti – steam distilled wildcrafted resin, Ethiopia. Opoponax is a resin from the Myrrh family native to eastern Africa and the Middle East. Opoponax, along with Myrrh, has been a component of incenses, perfumes, insect repellents, and herbal remedies since biblical times. The Egyptians also used myrrh to help preserve their mummies. May cause sensitization. Opoponax is known as “scented myrrh”. Its scent is sweet, spicy, balsamic and warm. It’s an excellet fixative for blends or perfumes which use Neroli in the mix. Opoponax has muscle relaxing properties. Due to its drying action is effective against excessive mucous in the lungs. Recommended in cases of bronchitis, colds, sore throats, and coughs. Blends well with patchouli, orange, lemon, frankincense and sandalwood.

Aromatherapy & Health Uses: Due to its drying action is effective against excessive mucous in the lungs. Recommended in cases of bronchitis, colds, sore throats, and coughs. Blends well with patchouli, orange, lemon, frankincense and sandalwood.

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The quintessentials of essentials: 4 common types of essential oils

Essential oils are highly beneficial health care products. What distinguishes them from other medicinal products are their drug-free, side effects-free, safety properties. When you use an essential oil for a particular ailment, you can be sure of getting cured without hiccups. Essential oils do not interact with other oral medications too. On the whole, they are 100% safe irrespective of the person on whom they are administered.

Types of essential oils: Essential oils are differentiated or grouped by their extraction methods. Nowadays different methods are used in extraction, but the most common and prevalent methods are: Steam Distillation, Cold Pressing and Solvent Extraction. Based on these methods, essential oils can be classified into four different types: 1.Steam-distilled, 2. Expressed, 3. Solvent-extracted and 4. Absolutes or concretes.

1. Steam-distilled oils: Steam distillation is the oldest and traditional method of oil extraction. Pure aromatherapy oils are extracted through this process as it yields pristine oil, free from impurities. The process works like this: Plant material is placed in a container and steam is passed through it. Heat from the steam opens pockets of plant containing aromatic molecules and oils. When released, these molecules rise with the steam and pass through a closed system. After this, the aromatic steam is passed through a cooling process and is distilled with cold water. During this process, the essential plant oils condense and transform into liquid state. The liquid mixture is separated later into two – essential oils and aromatic water or hydrosol.

Steam distillation takes into account a variety of things, including the pressure of steam passed through plant material, the coolant used, the temperature of the closed system during production of oil etc. An oil’s quality and purity is based on all these factors and the skill of the distiller. Reputed distillers’ oils are rated high owing to the quality and purity of their extracts.

2. Cold-pressed or Expressed oils:
This is a method used to extract oils from the citrus family of fruits. Oils are produced from the rind of fruits like tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, oranges and others. Though they should be known only as expressed oils, they are classified under essential oils due to their high therapeutic value. Using mechanical pressure, oils are forced out of the fruits in juice form. Since the juicy form of oils contain a lot of water, a separation process is carried out to separate oils from water. One downside to this method is, cold-pressed oils get spoilt quickly than other oils. So it is recommended that these oils are bought in small quantities and refilled whenever required.

3. Solvent Extracted Oils: Some plant material cannot tolerate heat (in steam form) or be subjected to cold-pressing. When they are subjected to any such method, the oil thus produced may be contaminated or impure in quality. To avoid this, some plants like Jasmine, Rose, Orange Blossom (Neroli), Tuberose and Oak are extracted through solvents. Solvents such as ethanol, ether, methanol, hexane, alcohol, and petroleum are used to extract essential oils.

The process works like this: Plant material is first passed on through hydrocarbon solvents. Then, the solvent mixture is filtered and distilled in low pressure to produce essential oils. A downside to this method is that, sometimes, solvent residues remain in the oils. This can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals.

4. Absolutes or concretes:
Absolute oils are essences that are obtained by extraction of a concrete with alcohol. A concrete is generally the solid waxy residue that remains after extraction of oils by solvents (especially hexane).

Facts, Fiction and Limitations: Is Aromatherapy worth all the hype?

Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile, aromatic and absolute plant oils in the physical and psychological well-being of people. Though aromatherapy has been prevalent for centuries, it has received great attention in the recent times. Only in the 20th century, the very term aromatherapy was coined by a French chemist. However, in this short time span, aromatherapy has gained enormous reputation as an alternative medicinal system. It has been proven that essential oils benefit people in numerous ways without any disturbing side effects. All popularity apart, the question remains the same: Is aromatherapy worth all the hype it is being given? What is so special about aromatherapy that it gets a lot of press these days? This article is an answer to these questions.

Aromatherapy – Fact, fiction and Limitations:
Like with every other system of medicine, there are a lot of myths about aromatherapy. People tend to be carried away by the cures promised by aromatherapists and believe that treatment with essential oils can cure every other disease in the world. This is not true. Aromatherapy is not a cure for every other disease. It can treat only certain ailments and is not a complete alternative to the existing system of medicine.

Below are a list of myths, facts and limitations of aromatherapy as a system of medicine:

1. What is it and what is it not:
Aromatherapy is the use of volatile, aromatic essential oils (plant extracts) in the treatment of physical conditions. Owing to the aromatic and healing effects of the oils, aromatherapy helps in the psychological and physiological well being of individuals. Some media reporters, marketing people and vendors claim aromatherapy as a new system of medicine and thus give it a false hype. It is not a complete system of medicine and neither it is new as it has been prevalent right from the times of Egyptian civilization and Ayurvedic medicine.

2. Fragrance oils are not essential oils: Fragrance oils or oils used in perfumes and air fresheners are different from essential oils. Any unnatural product is not part of holistic aromatherapy. But unfortunately several vendors project their medicines as aromatherapeutic cure. Beware of such medicines.

3. Aromatherapy is not a cure for major illnesses: Aromatherapy cannot definitely cure major illnesses like cancer or AIDS. It can neither relieve one from depression or stress completely. However, it can help in alleviating the symptoms of such disorders and help in the treatment process. It can enhance a cancer patient’s quality of life by changing his mood, calming fear and giving temporary pain relief. Similarly, essential oils can improve an AIDS patient’s immune system and thereby, reduce the symptoms. But aromatherapy cannot treat major diseases.

4. Aromatherapy is complementary: Aromatherapy is what is called a complementary, alternative health modality. It cannot replace standard medical care but can only complement it. It can offer alternative choices and help you avoid prescription or over the counter drugs, but it cannot replace standard medical system. It can offer practical cure to a variety of ailments like cuts, wounds, PMS symptoms, bruises, inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, fear, depression, pain, rheumatism, hair loss, acne, skincare, menstrual problems, and so on.

5. Labels on medications: Some marketers use the label “Made with essential oils” even if the medication has other ingredients in it. Since the U.S. does not regulate the use of the word aromatherapy on product labels, many marketers use it to create a false hype. As a buyer, you should know to sieve fact from fiction when it comes to aromatherapy.

Understanding Essential Oils: 3 major ways of healing you should know

Essential oils are efficient in treating several ailments in the human body. They are very different from vegetable or fatty oils and are non-greasy, anti-microbial, transport oxygen, and do not clog the skin pores. Essential oils work in a specific way to cure illnesses. This is because they are highly complex substances which are mosaics of hundreds of natural chemicals.

Essential oils and the human body: Any average essential oil may contain about 80 to 400 known chemical constituents that combine together to have a therapeutic effect on the body. These are natural chemicals that are useful in protecting plants from several environmental attacks. By supplying essential oils to the body, you can protect it from bacterial and viral infections, and deliver proper oxygen and nutrients to cells.  Since carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are common to both plants and humans, these plant oils also digest toxic waste in the body. They also have a lipid-soluble structure that makes them compatible with human body.

Historical methods of healing through Essential Oils: Essential oils were historically used in three different methods called the French, the German and the English methods. The English method dilutes drops of essential oils in vegetable oil and uses the mixture in massages, body relaxation techniques etc. The French follow the oral method of healing. They swallow therapeutic essential oils internally for quick healing effects. Many French practitioners believed that essential oils were extremely useful when  taken orally. The Germans recommended the inhalation of oils and engaged in aromatherapy. This has been scientifically proved to be a good method as the aromatic compounds of the oils have a strong effect on the brain, especially the hormone center of the body (hypothalamus) and the seat of emotions or the limbic region.

Major ways of healing: Three major healing methods are practiced in aromatherapy to  bring about the therapeutic effects of essential oils. Though there are several other methods to bring cure, these are the most common methods that are known to every aromatherapy practitioner.

1. Pharmacological: In the pharmacological method, essential oils enter the blood stream through lungs. Candles, air fresheners, inhalers and room sprays are used in this treatment.  By controlling or reacting with different hormones and enzymes, the essential oils produce chemical changes in the body.

2. Physiological:
In the physiological method, essential oils are made to enter the body through skin. With products such as lotions or massage oils, essential oils are absorbed through the skin in order to treat ailments. When applied to the affected area, they cause human body systems to become sedated, energized and stimulated. This method works especially well with physical ailments related to muscles, body pain, headaches, injuries and wounds.

3. Psychological:
Psychological way is through the brain. Like the German method, this way is  through  inhalation. By inhaling an essential oil, you can have a strong impact on the brain and the hormonal system of the body. This method is often said to bring peace, happiness and feelings of sedation into an anxious and otherwise-restless body. By inhaling, you can also avoid oral intake and cure your conditions in a safe, natural and drug-free way.

Since aromatherapy does not interfere with any of the medications, its benefits are numerous. All the major ways of healing work to bring a calm and relaxing effect on the body. When the body is relaxed, the oils act on the enzymes and hormones, curing the ailment for which they are used.