Facts About Essential Oils-Properties, Functions and Uses
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
- Essential oils are important for overall health and wellness of plants. They play an important role in the metabolism of plants.
- 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.
- 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.
- Essential oils help to attract birds and insects for the purpose of pollination.
- The fragrance in a plant is due to the specific essential oil that is unique to the plant.
- The process of ripening in fruits is accelerated by the essential oils.
- 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.
- 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
- floral waters
- incense sticks
- hand and foot baths
- hair care products
- skin care products
- massage oils
- steam inhalations
- ayurvedic medicines
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