Category Archives: Aromatherapy Facts

Natural antidotes: 10 reasons why therapeutic-grade essential oils heal better

Essential oils heal – we all know that. But a fact that escapes our purview is, not all essential oils heal. Yes, only therapeutic-grade essential oils can help in coping with the health challenges of the body. And  therapeutic-grade essential oils need to be well manufactured (at low temperature and controlled pressure) to heal naturally. The highest quality of essential oils should be raw, pure and unadulterated (with fragrances) to heal in their natural states. To produce a pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil, monitoring should happen right from the plant in the field to the extraction and preservation process. Proper species growth, growing conditions, harvesting and distillation methods – everything, till the testing of the final product, should be monitored.

Why therapeutic grade essential oils?
There are reasons behind emphasizing the importance of therapeutic grade essential oils. This is because only real essential oils are effective and produce the right kind of therapeutic remedies. Using perfume-grade oils or other fragrances mixed with drops of essential oils will not just spoil your health but can also cause skin infections. To avoid trouble, use oils that are unadulterated, clear and without any additives.

Some manufacturers tend to blend pure oils with inexpensive vegetable oil blends. Since it is difficult to find out between therapeutic grade oils and such vegetable oil blends, buy your essential oils from an authorized and reputed aromatherapist. Never allow any room for synthetics, vegetable carriers or extra fragrances in your oils. It is better if you can perform a laboratory test using Gas Chromatograph (GC) and Mass Spectrometer (MS) on your essential oils before buying them.

Below are a few reasons on how pristine quality essential oils help with health challenges in a better way:

1. High oxygen to cells: Pure, therapeutic grade essential oils deliver high levels of oxygen to cells creating an atmosphere where pathogens cannot survive.

2. Rich in antioxidants: Essential oils are rich in antioxidant properties which make them infection-resistant and health-prone.

3. Negative-ion environment: Oils create a negative ion environment which are inimical to pathogens and other disease-causing agents

4. Immuno-stimulators: Many essential oils are immuno-stimulators which boost up a weakened immune system and help with the proper functioning of the body. High altitude Lavender, Lemon are such immuno-stimulator oils.

5. Anti-germ properties: Most of the essential oils are antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic in nature. This helps eliminate the possibility of infections from microbes.

6. Ability to break blood-brain barrier: Aromatic oils like Lemon, Frankincense and Sandalwood have sesquiterpenes – chemical constituents which have the ability to break the blood-brain barrier and treat diseases instantly.

7. Electrical frequency:
Properly extracted essential oils have electrical frequencies which raises the body to a higher frequency level, making it disease-free. Rose oil is such a high frequency oil.

8. Endorphins for well-being:
Almost all essential oils stimulate the release of endorphins which create a sense of joy in the body. The endorphins achieve this by relaxing the body and relieving physical and emotional stress.

9. Natural chelators:
Most of the therapeutic-grade essential oils are natural chelators which have the capacity to drive toxins (metallic elements) out of the cells. Helichrysum oil is a good example.

10. Vital nutrients:
All essential oils deliver oxygen and other vital nutrients to malnourished cells to create a sense of wholeness and well being. In brief, they set off healing in the most natural ways possible.

The healing power of smell: Ayurveda and aromatherapy

Aromatherapy existed centuries ago, right from the day people started using herbs and oils to treat diseases. Though this did not happen in the Western system of medicine, it happened way back in the science of life or what is called Ayurveda. Ayurvedic system of medicine used the power of smell for a lot of cures and treatments. Ayurvedic physicians understood that smell can have a huge impact on the brain and thereby, the other functions of the body. They used aromatherapy as a supplementary form of ayurvedic treatment. This article will explore more on the connection between modern aromatherapy and ayurveda.

The power of smell: It is said that about 80 percent of us sense the flavor of an item only through smell. The sense of smell is so powerful that it can arouse our appetite, warn us in case of danger (like fire), kindle our sexual self and elicit a surge of deep-seated memories in our mind. Smell gains power from the fact that it is connected with emotion-generating areas of the brain or the limbic system. It works like this: when you inhale an aroma, you stimulate the tiny membranes of your nose which in turn trigger electric signals to the hypothalamus of your brain. The hypothalamus is the seat of various activities of the body and controls and integrates parts of the nervous system, endocrine system, heartbeat, respiration, sexual arousal and blood sugar levels. The limbic system also wields power over the most basic emotions in your body like anger, pleasure, sadness, fear etc. So, when an aroma hits your nose membranes, it immediately makes an impact on your brain and thereby, the other parts of the body. This happens instantly, unlike the medications and drugs (which take time to dissolve into the blood stream) and hence, plays a great role in relieving people of pain and diseases.

Ayurveda and aromatherapy: As mentioned earlier, the ancient science of ayurveda has an age-old history of use of essential oils. It can be said that ayurvedic physicians used a lot of herbs and oils that it became the base on which the medicinal system was built. Ayurveda is based on the notion that the entire universe is composed of five elements and that three of these elements – Vata (Air), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Earth & Water) control the body. These elements have to be in right balance for the body to function well and in case of any imbalance, there is disease or what is otherwise called ‘dosha’.

Ayurvedic essential oils: Ayurveda uses aromatherapy to treat the Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas. This can be done by inhaling or massaging specific essential oils or oils that would balance the particular dosha. This is a quick way to heal trauma and disease as the aroma instantly starts working along with the brain. Remedies for Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas.

1. Essential oils for Vata dosha: Basil, Orange, Geranium, Rose and Clove oils work well in treating Vata dosha. They cultivate positive emotions and joy to keep fear and sorrow at bay.

2. Essential oils for Pitta dosha: Sandalwood, Rose, Mint, Cinnamon, Jasmine oils are good cures for Pitta dosha. These oils work by inducing creativity and enthusiasm as a replacement to irritability and anger.

3. Essential oils for Kapha dosha: Pungent aromatic oils like Eucalyptus, Juniper, Camphor, Clove and Marjoram can stimulate sociability and happiness and cure Kapha dosha.

Aromatherapy by astrology: 12 signature oils for 12 astrology signs

Astrology and aromatherapy. Is there a connection? There is, say the experts. Yes, human beings can be treated with aromatherapy based on their zodiac or Sun signs. People belonging to different astrology signs have different characteristics and those that belong the same sign have similar personality traits. Aromatherapists say based on people’s signs and  the same characteristics that are associated with the signs, we can use essential oils as preventative treatment and for healing purposes. However, this has to be done after understanding the positive traits and the negative physical/emotional issues specific to the sign the person belongs to. This kind of aromatherapy will be useful to individuals who cannot afford to find themselves a personal aromatherapist. If you find yourself with a dominant trait that is associated with your sign, make use of these oils to treat yourself/loved ones.

Aromatherapy by astrology signs: This is not something new in the realm of aromatherapy. Many expert aromatherapists have suggested treatment by astrology signs and some of them are: Patricia Davis and Stephanie Gailing.     Davis details about the connection between oils and sun signs in her book, ‘Astrological Aromatics’ and Stephanie does the same in the book, ‘Planetary Apothecary’.

The first step in aromatherapy by astrology is to identify the personality traits of each and every sign and then, adopt to a treatment based on that. There are people who are often cusps of signs (who have traits of two signs). For such people, treatment should be given after identifying which sign is dominant in them. Below are a list of traits of particular signs and the suggested oil to combat such traits. Other than this, you can also use oils that are helpful in combating traits dominant in you.

An Aquarian is a person with the following traits: altruistic, egalitarian, friendly, eccentric, philanthropic, detached, innovative, rebellious and independent. The oil suitable for this type of individual is Neroli.

Pisces: Born between February 19th and March 20th, Pisceans are mostly dreamers, romantics, imaginative and creative people. They are empathetic, psychic, idealistic and selfless. An ideal oil for their spiritual and forgiving nature is Melissa.

Aries: With the swiftness of Mars, Aries individuals act in a willful, enterprising and assertive way. They pioneer whatever they do and are impulsive and brave always. A suitable oil for them is Rosemary.

Taurus: Born between April 20 and May 20, Taureans are best when it comes to hard work. They are sensual, grounded, steadfast, stubborn, predictable and practical. They long for security and often seek serenity.  A suitable oil for them is Rose.

Gemini: Geminis have the gift of Mercury and are extremely talkative by nature. They are curious, adaptable to any situation, quick-witted, youthful and spontaneous in all that they do. Ideal oil for them is Basil.

Cancer: Cancer is a caring sign and everything about the sign is nurturing, sensitive, hospitable and sympathetic. Cancerians tend to get moody at times and hence, need to be tempered with Blue Chamomile oil.

Leo: Leos are the kings and queens of the zodiac. They are self-expressive, generous, faithful, dominant, charismatic, courageous and dignified. Dramatic in all they do, they can be haughty sometimes. The best oil for Leos is Jasmine.

Virgo: Analytical, productive and perfectionist, Virgos are rational and insightful in things they accomplish or intend to accomplish. They are the most methodical of signs and hence need relaxation with Lavender oil.

Libra: Libras are poised well in a tough situation. They are diplomatic, sociable, stylish and charming to associate with. Geranium is best suited for their gracious yet often frivolous nature.

Scorpio: Scorpio is passionate and emotional many a times. To combat their secretive, forceful and brooding nature, they need Patchouli oil.

Sagittarius: Adventurous and optimistic, Sagittarians are the adventurers of the zodiac. They are versatile, zealous and exuberant in all that they do. The best oil for Sagittarius individuals is Black Pepper.

Capricorn: Capricorns are the loyal, hard working and pragmatic individuals of the zodiac. However, they can hold grudges, be over-ambitious and frugal sometimes. To combat their negative traits, the best oil is Vetiver.

Holistic aromatherapy: A faster way to stress release and detoxification

Hypocrites, father of medicine, said, “The way to good health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” Aromatherapy is that important in daily life. When incorporated into daily routine on a regular basis, aromatherapy can invigorate an individual and keep him disease and stress-free. As essential oils are plant oils that are high on immunity, using them for your body can mean establishing a protective, disease-resistant shield around you. Holistic aromatherapy is something which tries to impart general well-being in an individual.

Holistic Aromatherapy: Holistic aromatherapy is a subtle kind of treatment which incorporates 100% use of pure essential oils to keep up good health. Though aromatherapy uses only aromatic oils, it is different from fragrance oils and applies pure oils based on your physical, emotional and mental health. Derived from the Greek word “Holos”, holistic aromatherapy means treating the body as a whole – that is, using essential oils for the welfare of the whole body. This is often a periodic treatment and involves use of all kinds of oils, massage therapies, diffuser and vaporizer treatments to detoxify and heal your body.
What does Holistic Aromatherapy do? Holistic aromatherapy is often used on a regular basis than at the time of disease. It is known to strengthen people against dis-ease to increase stamina and help with convalescence and recovery. To treat your body holistically, you can follow a variety of treatments. It is different from therapy in that, an aromatherapist uses 100% pure essential oils mixed with carrier oils. The choice of oils can be determined by the individual’s state of health. The client’s time of visit is also of importance as the aromatherapist decides based on the current physical and emotional needs of the person.

Holistic aromatherapy – Applications: Holistic aromatherapy, like general aromatherapy, can be used in various ways. The basic and most common application is that of massaging. Massage oils are made by mixing pure essential oils with vegetable or carrier oils like Grapeseed oil. Another common methods include, vaporization, inhalation, use of compresses, bath salts/aromatic baths etc.

An essential oil’s chemical structure can be identical to the plant from which it is extracted. Changes occur in the extraction process and in many cases, an oil’s composition can be completely altered because of the mode of extraction. Several extraction processes are used, which include distillation, enfleurage, maceration and volatile solvents. Aromatic plants can grow in great numbers in several parts of the world. The soil, region, weather and extraction methods of a plant affect the chemical structure of an oil. Owing to this, holistic aromatherapy conducted in one part of the world maybe different from the one practiced in other parts of the world. To ensure that essential oils are of high quality, check with your aromatherapist on whether he uses therapeutic grade oils that are extracted from the right place of origin.

Topical Fragrancing: How to make herbal tinctures using essential oils

Herbal tinctures. What do they have to do with aromatherapy? You might wonder. The connecting factor between aromatherapy and tinctures are – herbs. Preparing tinctures require attention to detail and knowledge in aromatherapy. This is because tinctures have both aromatic and therapeutic purposes and are inexpensive to make. But you need to properly store them to preserve them and use them for a indefinite period of time. You need to use a variety of aromatherapy related stuff for the making of these herbal tinctures. These include – herbs, dried herbs, alcohol or glycerin etc. Since tinctures are one of the best and quickest ways to make a place aromatic, you can use them with ease, without any issue of overuse or restrictions on safety.

Uses of herbal tinctures: Tinctures are more concentrated dosages of herbs. Though extracted from herbs (medicinal or otherwise), they are thicker than essential oils and can be made easily from home. Tinctures can be used for a variety of purposes. It is a great remedy for treatment of high blood pressure. A tincture made using Garlic, Hawthorn, Linden and Wood Betony can reduce high blood pressure symptoms. You can treat acne or other skin disorder with Calendula tinctures, while Echinacea can help cure sore throats. You can treat insomnia with a tincture of Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Hops, Passion Flower or Valerian at night. If you have mild to severe headache, you can use Chamomile, Willow Bark, Skullcap, Valerian and Wood Betony oils/herbs. Apart from all this, tinctures make good room fresheners and are often used in cleaning the air in the room – an aromatherapeutic way of doing things.

Topical fragrancing with herbal tinctures:
To make herbal tinctures for topical fragrancing, you will need the following supplies: sterilized containers, fresh herbs, dried herbs, vodka that is used for food recipes, cheesecloth or a fine grade stainer. You can use dried herbs only if you want to make the tincture more concentrated. Vodka should be of the high-proof, edible kind. Read all safety precautions before any sort of mixing. First, chop the fresh herbs and add them into air-tight sterilized containers. The herbs will start to release their aromatic oils as soon as you cut them. Then, fill the containers with vodka with enough room to mix both herbs and alcohol. When the blending is done, allow the containers to sit idle in a cool, dark and dry place. Shake every container at least once for over 30 days. Then, finally, after the period is over, filter the tincture with layered cheesecloth or fine grade stainer.

If you want to get a more concentrated, aromatic tincture, it is better if you keep it idle for 30 days. You can use this aromatic tincture as body spray, linen spray, facial toner and room mist.

Caution while using aromatic tinctures:
Follow all the rules of caution while using or making aromatic tinctures. Made out of herbs, tinctures are no different from essential oils except in concentration of liquid. So, check the list of hazardous oils and avoid all herbs that yield such oils. If you are allergic to alcohol or want to avoid it in your body, use Glycerin-based tinctures are used extensively in the personal care industry.

When age is a burden and old is not gold: 4 tips to use old essential oils

Aging essential oils can be a real burden. Because, they cannot be used or disposed off easily. Another thing is, not all oils age at the same pace. Some oils age faster, while some age slower, taking more than a year to grow old. So, what to do with aging oils? How best to use them, or at least dispose them without trouble? For disposing essential oils, visit ‘Way to the bin: How to dispose of essential oils safely’ article. Though essential oils do not go rancid quickly, they can age with time on account of their ability to oxidize. This gradually slows down their therapeutic value, which at one point, remains just aromatic and completely un-therapeutic. Also, not all essential oils age poorly, in a deteriorating way. Oils like Patchouli or Sandalwood mature with age and turn out to be more beneficial as years pass by. This is why you need to read about the shelf life of an oil before you choose to buy it.

How to identify old essential oils: First, get to know  more about essential oils before you buy them. With all your ground information clear, you will know the time value of a particular oil. Read the label information or get info from your supplier. Calculate from the date of extraction and preservation. Try to use all the oils before the expiration date. If you sense a foul-strain in your essential oil’s aroma or if your oil does not possess a full aroma, understand that it has lost its therapeutic grade quality. At any cost, avoid use of such aromatherapy products or application. Especially on the skin as aromatherapy oils have the ability to come into direct contact with skin and cause sensitization. Avoid using very old oils in room sprays and diffusers as it can affect pets and children in the house.

How to use aging essential oils: Uses of aging essential oils are minimal, but varied. First, you need to gauge in which way your oil has grown old – aromatic or therapeutic. If your oil has become therapeutically old, you should not use it in any recipe of health related application. If your oil is just therapeutically old and still retains an aromatic pleasantness, you can use it in the following applications:

1. Homemade Dryer Sheets: When you use dryer sheets for laundry, you can use essential oils to naturally fragrance your laundry. For making a laundry drying sheet, use add 5 drops of oil to a scrap of cotton fabric and place it into the dryer. Your aroma will let customers look for your product. However, use only oils that are clear, thin-colored and without any therapeutic usage.

2. Drain Freshener: If your oils do not smell rancid, use them on toilet drains. You can add just one to 2 drops to disinfect a place, including the odor. However, be careful. Pouring more than 2-3 drops of essential oil can harm your underground water supplies. So, avoid using thick oils as drain freshener.

3. Fabric softener: It is said that old oils are sometimes better than vinegar and hence can be used in laundry during the rinse cycle. This softens fabrics and makes them better.

4. Trash Freshener: If rodents, insects and parasites are troubling your trash liner too much, use a drop of two of essential oils. This will eliminate odors and detract rodents and insects from reaching your trash.

Born of the Sun: Aromatherapy, color therapy and vibrational healing

Almost everything in this universe derives energy from the sun and plants or petals are no exception to this. Since the sun has all the colors of the rainbow in it, plants have a special mechanism to absorb color vibrations in our system. Contrary to synthetic substances that are lifeless and do not change, pure essential oils are full of life. In fact it is said that they contain the “life-force” of plants in them. They have living and pulsating vibrations that make them engage in color therapy too. This way aromatherapy is connected to other forms of alternative medicinal systems like color therapy and vibrational healing. This article will throw light on what it means to use color vibrations of oils for healing.

Aromatherapy and color therapy: Aromatherapy can be made vibrational like color therapy. Vibrational medicine is the form of medicine that uses vibrations of the electromagnetic spectrum to heal the body. Often this electromagnetic spectrum is what is referred to as aura. By gaging the aura of an individual, one can know the physical, spiritual and mental state of the individual along with his or her energy levels. Essential oils can also be infused with color vibrations to treat illnesses. To create a blend that is a perfect medium to practice color vibrational healing, you need to mix essential oils in complementary or similar colors. You can even use color as a guide to blend essential oils.

Below are a few colorful blends of essential oils. These blends are therapeutic in two ways – they contain pure, healing essential oils; they carry color vibrations that react with the life-force in the oils to bring about a solution to the illness.

1. Orange Skin Tonic:
Orange is always a rejuvenating color. It can refresh, uplift and keep you in high spirits. Blend 16 drops of Orange essential oil with 4 drops of Neroli and 100 ml of Orange flower water. You can use this blend as a body cleanser anytime to lift your mood or to relax after a hard day. These are citrus oils and should be used with care as some oils are photo-toxic. Better to not use this blend if you are pregnant. Also, it is not advisable to go out in the sun for 72 hours of using this oil.

2. Yellow/Violet Balm for skin care: A combination of complementary colors always work in color therapy. Yellow and violet belong to that category. Mix 2 drops of Lemon essential oil and 1 drop of Lavender with 6 drops of Evening Primrose oil. Spread on to your acne or affected skin area two times a day. Since this blend contains photo-toxic oils, do not go in sunlight for at least 72 hours.

3. Violet Tonic for skin: Lavender is a great source of violet and this violet tonic contains just that. Use 12 drops of Lavender with 100 ml of Lavender water to cleanse the affected area.

4. Bath mix with vibrational energy: Combine 30 ml of Almond oil with 2 drops of Lemon and one drop of Sandalwood essential oil. Add to your bath and relax for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can also create a blend of different kind with oils that represent different colors. Use Cajeput for white; Sandalwood for red; Patchouli for gold color; Citronella, Lemongrass, Evening Primrose, Lemon and Camphor for yellow color; Geranium oil for pink blend; and Lavender, Violet, Rose, Rose Geranium, Juniper for violet color.

Essential oils chemistry: 8 common chemical components of essential oils

Essential oils are very complex by nature on account of their presence in plants. Their molecular structure is complex, consisting of all kinds of atoms, including hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen atoms. Even sulfur atoms are also present sometimes. Though made of several chemical ingredients,  every essential oil acts together as a whole, treating infections or promoting healing, based on the dominant chemicals in them. This article will explain in detail the chemical components of essential oils.

Essential oils chemistry:
Essential oils are complex structures to study. However, studying them or understanding their chemical structure can help with use of them for treatment or therapeutic purposes. Apart from that, when you know the chemistry of an essential oil, you can know its hazardous as well as therapeutic properties. This will make things easy for you if you have allergies against particular chemicals. Below are a list of the common chemical ingredients present in essential oils:

1. Monoterpenes: Found in most essential oils, Monoterpenes are antiseptic and tonic in nature. They are good air purifiers which have about 10 carbon atoms in them. Though Monoterpenes are present in almost every other essential oil, a large percentage of them are found in Citrus oils. They are colorless, highly volatile and deteriorate quickly. Hence, they should be handled with care and kept at cool temperatures. Limonene found in Lemon oil, pinene found in Pine and camphene found in Camphor are examples of essential oils.

2. Sesquiterpenes: Though not as volatile as Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes are effective and have about 15 carbon atoms in them. They have a calming effect, are anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious. Zingiberene in Ginger oil, cedrene in Cedarwood and caryophellene in Clove oil are some of the sesquiterpenes found in essential oils.

3. Phenols: The most antiseptic chemicals found in plants, Phenols stimulate bodily functions in small doses. However, large doses of can be a poison to the nervous system and can cause skin irritations as well as digestive comfort to sensitive people. Thymol found in Thyme oil and eugenol found in Clove are examples of Phenols.

4. Alcohols: A lot of alcohol content is also present in essential oils. Highly antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antibiotic, alcohols are good tonic to the nervous system and stimulate immune response in the body. Lavendulol  in Lavender, nerol in Neroli and geraniol found in Geranium oil are examples of alcohols in oils.

5. Ketones: Anticoagulants, Ketones can relax, sedate and heal scar tissues, immune system or respiratory system in the body. However, Ketones can be harmful to the nervous system and can result in miscarriage, convulsions and epilepsy. Examples of Ketones are thyone in Sage, pinocamphone in Hyssop, and carvone in Peppermint.

6. Ethers/Esters: Ethers and esters have similar properties but ethers are the stronger of the both. Antispasmodic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, ethers are gentle on skin and help in rebalancing the nervous system effectively. Cinnamyl acetate in Cinnamon and myrtinly acetate in Myrtle.

7. Aldehydes: Anti-inflammatory, Aldehydes have properties that are similar to Ketones and Alcohols. However, excess of Aldehydes can cause major irritation to the skin and the mucous membranes. Furfurol in Lavender, Sandalwood, Cinnamon and Cypress are aldehydes.

8. Coumarins: Anti-convulsant and anti-coagulant, Coumarins have a relaxing and sedative effect. As these chemicals can be photosensitive, essential oils with these constituents should be used with caution and should not be exposed to the sun. Bergaptene in Bergamot, angelicine in Angelica and Citroptene in Citrus oils are examples of Coumarins.

Essential oils extraction: 4 less-known methods, nuances you should know

Essential oil extraction is a subject for study for aromatherapists. This is because, there are so many things involved in extraction of oils from plant parts like roots, flowers, bark, resin, rinds and fruits etc.  However, there are several extraction methods which are used to extract essences from plants. These methods are often known only to aromatherapists and aromatherapy students and are often practiced on a small scale. The most popular of the methods is steam distillation. This has been prevalent from the eighth century and practiced by the Arabs, Egyptians and others. Distillation is used only for extraction of oils from leaves, barks, seeds, stems and roots.  There are several less known methods of extraction too. They are Expression, Enfleurage, Maceration and Solvent Extraction.

Extraction nuances: Essential oils extraction is not easy as any other industrial processes. Since we deal with delicate raw materials like plant products, it involves nuances of a subtle kind. The percentage of raw materials is to the end result varies depending on type of plant used. The method of extraction and the quality of plant used determines the oil’s value and price. For instance, it takes 12,000 Rose petals to produce 5 ml of Rose essential oil, while 100 kilos of Lavender to produce 3 liters of Lavender oil. As a result, Rose is about 20 times costlier than Lavender in the market. Similarly, raw materials vary from plant to plant, oil to oil. Lavender is extracted from its flower, Orange/citrus fruits from their rinds, Frankincense from the resin of its tree, Cinnamon is taken from its bark while Pine is extracted from its needles. Soil quality, climatic conditions and harvest time/distillation/extraction process of a plant determine an oil’s purity. There are other nuances like –  Jasmine flowers must be picked by hand at dawn (if they are for extraction) and Sandalwood must be 30 years old and at least 30 feet high to produce best quality oil.

Essential oils extraction methods: Below is a brief of essential oils extraction methods like Expression, Enfleurage, Maceration and Solvent Extraction.

1. Expression: Most of the citrus fruits like Orange, Lemon, Mandarin, Bergamot and Lime are extracted from this method. This is a simple method which squeezes the rind of fruits to produce essences.

2. Enfleurage: This method uses a fixed oil, mostly a vegetable oil or animal fat or lard. It involves use of a sheet of glass mounted on a wooden frame. The plant part from which the oil is to be extracted (flower petals) should be placed on the sheet, mixed with fixed oil. Then, the whole sheet is placed in the sunlight. Later, this mixture is dissolved in alcohol and evaporated from it during the final process. Rose, Neroli, Jasmine and Violet are usually extracted from this method. Labeled ‘absolute’, enfleurage is quite rare as it is very expensive.

3. Maceration: Maceration is just like Enfleurage which uses a heated up fixed oil to release the essential oil from the plant parts easily.

4. Solvent Extraction: This is a process in which essential oils is extracted from delicate flowers like Rose, Jasmine, Violet or Mimosa. Here, a solvent like petroleum ether is used to extract essential oils which is later dissolved in alcohol. The procedure is like this: flower petals are placed on metal perforated trays. The extracts are called absolutes and are expensive than enfleurage.

The sin of applying ‘neat’: Sensitization and diluting essential oils

When you apply an essential oil ‘neat’,  you apply it directly on to your skin, without dilution. Undiluted application of pure essential oils is termed as neat application and leads to several problems, including skin disorders. Though not many people know this, it can result in life-long sensitization to that oil, making one develop skin problems the moment he or she comes in contact with the oil. However, this is a debatable topic as a few aromatherapists, even companies, profess that there is no harm in applying Lavender and Tea Tree oil in a neat way. This is not true and this article will explain why.

The sin of sensitization: Sensitization of skin basically means contact dermatitis of skin. Application of pure essential oils without dilution results in what is called sensitization – severe rash or itchy skin that appears every time your skin comes in contact with that particular oil. For instance, if you apply Lavender oil undiluted, you will develop sensitization every time you come in contact with the oil, even after 20 or 30 years. The proof for this is mentioned by Marge Clark in her famous book, ‘Essential Oils and Aromatics’. To avoid any such skin problems, ALWAYS use essential oils only after dilution. This is a must at least for the topical dilution of essential oils.  Because, permanent sensitization can be a curse for life.

How to use essential oils: Though essential oils are natural substances, they can be too tough to handle. That is, overuse or abuse of them can result in problems that maybe otherwise caused by abuse of medicines. This is why it is important to treat them with respect and use them like medicines.  Use caution every time you come in contact with an essential oil and ensure that you dilute your oil before topical application.  With regard to essential oils, always remember that less is more. Even with minimum drops, you can reap maximum benefit. Similarly, avoid using essential oils that are hazardous or have the potential to cause skin irritation. These include: Bay Laurel, Benzoin, Cinnamon,  Clove, Fennel, Oregano, Fir Needle, Parsley, Needle, Sage, Tagetes, Thyme and Spruce. Avoid oils like Anise, Bay Laurel, Benzoin, Fennel, Cassia, Catnip, Cinnamon, Citronella, Clove, Peru Balsam, Pine, Star Anise, Tagetes, Melissa, Oakmoss and others that cause sensitization.

Diluting essential oils – methods: A simple and easiest way to dilute essential oils is to add 12 drops of pure oils to 1 fl. Oz (30 ml) of carrier oil. This means a 2% dilution and involves no complex measurements. Though the mixture is not of appropriate measurements, this 2% dilution is enough to ensure that pure essential oils are blended well with carrier oils and do not cause harm on topical application.

Raindrop Therapy (pure application) is said to advocate use of pure oils. Avoid the therapy or check well with aromatherapists before going for any such undiluted topical application of oils.