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Understanding the ABC’s of Essential Oils

Updated on December 26, 2015

The ABC’s of Essential Oils

Essential oil is a hydrophobic liquid that is concentrated and distilled from the stems, leaves, roots, flowers and bark of a plant. It contains volatile aroma compounds and is also known as ethereal oil or volatile oil. These oils are referred to as ‘essential' because they carry the distinctive scent of the plant. Oils like lemongrass, orange or patchouli are yellow or amber in color, otherwise most of the essential oils are clear.

Difference between essential oils and perfume or fragrance oils:

Essential oils are derived from real plants whereas perfume oils are fragrances that are created artificially or they contain substances that are synthetic. Perfume oils do not offer the therapeutic benefits that essentials oils can offer. The aroma and chemical composition of an essential oil gives valuable physical and psychological benefits. These benefits can be achieved through application of the diluted oil on skin or through inhalation. Essential oils have a chemical structure that is not different from the human cells and due to this it becomes all the more compatible with human protein and gets easily accepted and identified within the body. The oil can travel through the body in few minutes if you apply it on your feet.

If you diffuse the oil in the air, it can increase the oxygen and break down the toxins in the air. Current research and studies have proven essential oils to be effective enough and students are taught about its use and benefits in many European medical schools. These oils are responsible for stimulating a part of the brain that is related to emotions. They are also involved in the stimulation of the release of growth hormones, sex hormones, thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters by stimulation of a part of hypothalamus.

You can also get therapeutic benefits if you inhale essential oils because the oil molecules enter the lungs and then they get absorbed in the bloodstream. These oils are sold usually in very small bottles and there can be a lot of variation in the price and quality. There are several factors due to which the price and quality of essential oils can get affected like the distiller's standard of quality, rarity of the plant, conditions and country where the plant is grown and the amount of oil produced.

You can also purchase essential oils as blends. If it is a blend of pure essential oils then you will have 2 or more single oils mixed. But the disadvantage of buying essential oil blend is that you will have no control over the percentages in the blend. Quality name-brand essential oils come at a higher cost than generic. Due to the increasing popularity, many companies are taking short cuts and making cheap version of these oils. They are also using labeling that can mislead any consumer. So make sure that you always buy only the best quality essential oil, after verifying the authenticity.

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Making an essential oil

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