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Facts About Essential Oils-Properties, Functions and Uses

Updated on August 28, 2019
Vellur profile image

A graduate in botany, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.


Essential oils contain the purest form of extracts from plants. They are present in aromatic plants and are obtained from the different parts of the plants such as the leaves, stems, flowers, fruits. These oils are highly concentrated and give a unique fragrance that acts as the signature scent of the plant.

Essential oils stimulate the basic cell structure and induce healing. Essential oils are not the same as fragrance oils. Fragrance oils have artificial chemical substances added to them, and they do not have the same benefits as essential oils.

Essential oils are also known as volatile oils or ethereal oils. They are used in soaps, cosmetics, perfumes and for adding fragrance to incense.

Properties of Essential Oils

Essential oils are volatile; they evaporate at room temperature or a little above it. They are not oily and have a pleasant fragrance.

They have a complex chemical structure made up of a combination of alcohols, phenols, aldehydes, ketones, acids, esters, oxides, lactones, coumarins and furpcoumarins.

Functions of Essential Oils in Plants

  1. Essential oils are important for overall health and wellness of plants. They play an important role in the metabolism of plants.
  2. When plants are exposed to infection, they kill the source of infection and prevent the spread of infection to the other parts of the plants.
  3. When plants are injured essential oils flow to the site of the wound and help in the healing process. They act like antiseptics and prevent infection.
  4. Essential oils help to attract birds and insects for the purpose of pollination.
  5. The fragrance in a plant is due to the specific essential oil that is unique to the plant.
  6. The process of ripening in fruits is accelerated by the essential oils.
  7. Essential oils help to preserve the moisture in plants and also aid in the smooth flow of water and nutrients to the different parts of the plant.
  8. Desert plants use essential oils to protect themselves against sunburns. They also act as herbicides to prevent the germination of seeds of other plants, in order to eliminate competition for the available water resource.

What is Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil?

Therapeutic grade essential oil is the purest form of essential oil. It is processed in a way that does not affect the original properties. There are standardization tests to determine the grade of the essential oils.

There are standardization tests to determine the grade of the essential oils.

The factors that affect the grade of the essential oil are -

1. The conditions in which the plant is grown (the soil, climate, fertilizer used, type of soil).

2. How the oil is distilled - this refers to the quality of equipment used, temperature and pressure at which the oil has is extracted, the time taken to distil the essential oil.

3. Parts of the plant such as the root, shoot, stem, leaves, fruits used to distil the essential oil.

Therapeutic grade essential oils are mainly used in aromatherapy and for medicinal purposes.

Low-Quality Essential Oils

The low-quality essential oils are mostly produced from plants grown using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, or they may have chemicals added to them. The not so pure essential oils may have been distilled using methods that destroy the effectiveness of the essential oil by tampering with the basic molecular structure.

Uses of Essential Oils

Essential Oils are used in many cosmetic and medicinal products such as -

  • air fresheners
  • bath salts
  • compresses
  • floral waters
  • perfumes
  • incense sticks
  • hand and foot baths
  • hair care products
  • skin care products
  • massage oils
  • steam inhalations
  • ayurvedic medicines

Essential Oils
antioxidant, reduces fever, natural anti-depressant,soothes nerves, relieves anxiety and stress
relieves nausea, relieves coughs and colds,cures nail and skin infections, removes dead skin, improves blood circulation,
enhances memory and concentration, strengthens nerve, eases depression, relieves asthma, sore throats
enhances memory, relieves water retention, headaches and migraines, good for skin care, eases inflammation and promotes hair growth
helps enhance memory, acts as an antidepressant, eases period pain and rheumatism, promotes blood circulation, has antiseptic and disinfectant qualities, helps ease cough, nasal congestion
helps treat nausea, bad breath, helps in digestion and to ease heart burn, eases inflammation of the mouth and throat, soothes headaches and toothaches, repels mosquitoes
helps to ease nausea, has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and disinfectant properties, calms nerves, helps to sleep, relieves headaches and toothaches, helps with digestion
helps ease nausea, acts as an air freshener, reduces anxiety, acts as a good toner, treats sunburns and insect bites
Tea Tree Oil
antifungal, antiseptic, eases cold, treats dandruff, dry scalp, acne, eczema and other skin conditions, eases toothaches and sunburns

Essential oils have a natural fragrance and many therapeutic properties. Using essential oils is a way of embracing nature into your life. Essential oils play an important role in holistic living and healing.


© 2014 Nithya Venkat


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    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      Paula Atwell you should not try any strong essential oils, take care. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      5 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      This is one alternative method of healing that I have not used much. I have bought tea tree oil and lavender. The main reason is that I am overly sensitive to scents and most of them are too strong for me. Same with soaps and lotions. I tend to like only the very mildest of scents or I sneeze. :)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      midget38 yes tea tree oil is number one on my list. Thank you for stopping by.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      I'd go for tea tree! Healing and soothing!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      RTalloni thank you for stopping by and am glad my hub will be of use to you.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I was just looking at some denim ornaments by Glimmer Twin Fan and thought of using essential oils to make them into sachets, then here comes your hub on EOs. :)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 thank you for your visit, essential oils are great to freshen the surroundings.

      FlourishAnyway thank you for your visit and yes it is a great way.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      This seems to be a good idea and worthy of trying,

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I use essential oils around the home and to freshen my car. Funny, I never thought I would enjoy thyme but I do find it relaxes me when used as a scent. I see from your chart that it helps the memory. Thanks for the information.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      travmaj thank you. I like chamomile too.

      thumbi7 thank you, lavender has a great smell!

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      6 years ago from India

      Very interesting information. I like the smell of lavender oil

    • travmaj profile image


      6 years ago from australia

      Most informative and interesting Vellur. I'm very fond of Chamomile. However, you've detailed so much more here I will investigate many of your suggestions. Thank you for all this lovely information.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Audrey Howitt thank you and am happy you found it informative.

      Alicia C thank you for stopping by and am glad you enjoyed.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for this informative hub, Vellur. Essentials oils are very interesting. I enjoyed learning about their uses!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      What a great hub! I love essential oils-and found this to be very informative

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      brake12(Audrey) thank you. Lavender and vanilla are great and soothing.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi I love this article about essential oils. My favorite is lavender vanilla which is very relaxing. I did not know about the good essential oils and how much they can help you. Thanks for sharing this information. Pinning. Blessings. Audrey

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Jackie Lynnley you can make mild perfumes with an essentialoil of your choice, thank you.

      always exploring jasmine, lavender and peppermint are great oils to use in your bath, thank you for your visit.

      Nell Rose thank you, glad my hub acted as a reminder. Rosemary is a great herb.

      suzettenaples thank you for your visit and am glad you found my hub informative.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      6 years ago from Taos, NM

      Wow! Everything I wanted to know about essential oils. This was fascinating for me. I do believe these oils do what you say. The fragrances and aromas are truly healing. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, I love essential oils, and I use herbs too, definitely need the rosemary for my skin, I haven't bought any for ages now, thanks for reminding me, and this is great! voting up and shared, nell

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I love using different oils in my bath. My favorites are jasmine, lavender and peppermint. Many noons ago my instructor told we class of wannabe R.N. to suck on hard peppermint candy while taking the state board exam, we did and we passed, supposedly it stimulates the brain's memory bank. Thank you...

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from the beautiful south

      I have some coconut I just ordered to add to some body lotions I am making from coconut oil. Can't wait! I have tried the lotion so know it is fantastic but I can't wear strong perfumes and I am hoping this can replace perfume entirely! Great article; I never even considered health benefits! ^+

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      DDE thank you and glad you found my hub informative.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Oils have such great benefits. I like all different essential oils and you told me more about these oils.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      tobusiness thank you for the votes and the share, much appreciated.

      billybuc thank you and I do hope Bev will find this useful.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information as always. I'll pass this on to Bev and I'm sure she will appreciate the information.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      I love using essential oils, I sometimes use lavender and geranium in the bath. Interesting and useful hub, very well done. Voting up and sharing.


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