What are essential oils? If you have seen some of our many Social Media posts on essential oils, Then you know that We at All Natural Now, LOVE Essential Oils & We LOVE the Benefits of using them!If you are not familiar with essential oils or you know a little bit but would like to learn more, GREAT! We will ALWAYS be more than happy to share with you, what we have learned on our journey with Essential Oils, what they are, what they are good for and how they are used. We wanted to post about What Essential Oils are and some of the many uses of Essential Oils.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the fragrant, highly concentrated natural constituents that are found in plants. They are what give the plant its characteristic odour and contain the healing power of the plant from which it was extracted. When used correctly, essential oils bring a wide range of health benefits since unlike modern drugs, they have no side-effects.
A typical essential oil will contain more than 100 different chemical compounds, each of which exhibits a specific therapeutic property, and it is for this reason that many essential oils can be used for such a wide range of conditions. Virtually all essential oils possess antiseptic properties, but many also have antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Essential oils are located in tiny secretory structures found in various parts of plants such as leaves (eucalyptus), berries (juniper), grasses (palmarosa), flowering tops (lavender), petals (rose), roots (angelica), zest of fruit (orange), resins (frankincense) and wood (cedar).
How Are Essential Oils Extracted?
Essential oils can be extracted via two key methods: Distillation (includes hydrodistillation) and Expression.
Absolutes, other the other hand, can be extracted via Solvent extraction or Enfleurage, although enfleurage is rarely performed in the modern day.
Another type of aromatic product available on the market are CO2 extracts, referred to simply as that, CO2 extracts. They differ in chemistry from their related distilled essential oils but are becoming increasing available on the market.
Distillation of Essential Oils appears to have been practiced throughout ancient times. Based upon the current interpretation Paolo Rovesti’s discovery of an earthenware distillation apparatus, the production or extraction of aromatic oils by means of steam distillation, has been known for 5000 years.1 During the fifth century AD, the famed writer, Zosimus of Panopolis, refers to the distilling of a divine water and panacea. Throughout the early Middle Ages and beyond, a crude form of distillation was known and was used primarily to prepare floral waters or distilled aromatic waters. These appear to have been used in perfumery, as digestive tonics, in cooking, and for trading.
Although an extensive trade of odoriferous material has been shown to have occurred in the ancient Orient and ancient Greece and Rome, the oils used were not essential oils per se, “rather they were obtained by placing flowers, roots, and other plant material into a fatty oil of best quality, submitting the glass bottles containing these mixtures to the warming influence of the sun and finally separating odoriferous oil from the solid constituents”.2
In 900 AD, Avicenna, the famous child prodigy from Persia who wrote many documents on plants and their uses and also instructions for massage, was accredited with refining the process of distillation by improving the cooling system.
Today distillation is still the most common process of extracting essential oils from plants. The advantage of distillation is that the volatile components can be distilled at temperatures lower than the boiling points of their individual constituents and are easily separated from the condensed water.
The Distillation Process
During distillation the plant material is placed upon a grid inside the still. Once inside, the still is sealed, and, depending upon the above methods, steam or water/steam slowly breaks through the plant material to remove its volatile constituents. These volatile constituents rise upward through a connecting pipe that leads them into a condenser. The condenser cools the rising vapor back into liquid form. The liquid is then collected in a vehicle below the condenser. Since water and essential oil do not mix, the essential oil will be found on the surface of the water where it is siphoned off. Occasionally an essential oil is heavier than water and is found on the bottom rather than the top, such as with clove essential oil.
The three types of distillation include:
The plant material comes into direct contact with the water. This method is most often employed with flowers (rose and orange blossoms), as direct steam causes these flowers to clump together making it difficult for steam to pass through.
Water and Steam
This method can be employed with herb and leaf material. During this process, the water remains below the plant material, which has been placed on a grate while the steam is introduced from outside the main still (indirect steam).
This method is the most commonly used. During this process, steam is injected into the still, usually at slightly higher pressures and temperatures than the above two methods.
Note on Boiling Point: The boiling point represents the temperature at which a liquid is converted to a gas at a specified pressure. The fundamental nature of steam distillation is that it enables a compound or mixture of compounds to be distilled (and subsequently recovered) at a temperature substantially below that of the boiling point(s) of the individual constituent(s). Essential oils contain substances with boiling points up to 200°C or higher, including some that are solids at normal temperatures. In the presence of steam or boiling water, however, these substances are volatilized at a temperature close to 100°C at atmospheric pressure.3
Percolation or Hydro-diffusion
This is a relatively recent method and is very similar to steam distillation except that the steam comes in through the top rather than the bottom, and there is a shorter distillation time. It is useful in extracting essential oils from woody or tough material or seeds such as fennel and dill.
Hydrosols: A By-product of Distillation
Hydrosols, also known as hydrolats, are the by-product or product (depending on the distiller purpose) of the distillation process. Hydrosols contain the water-soluble constituents of the aromatic plant and retain a small amount of essential oil. Every liter of hydrosol contains between 0.05 and 0.2 milliliter of dissolved essential oil, depending on the water solubility of the plant’s components and the distillation parameters.4
*Please Note: The addition of essential oils to water is not at all the same as true hydrosols, and it is recommended that you read the ingredients label on products to ascertain whether or not you are getting a true hydrosol. When water and essential oils are mixed together with or without a dispersant, this is called a “spritzer” or “aromatic spritzer,” and this product should not be confused with a true hydrosol.
Expression, also referred to as cold pressing, is a method of extraction specific to citrus essential oils, such as tangerine, lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, and lime. In older times, expression was done in the form of sponge pressing, which was literally accomplished by hand. The zest or rind of the citrus would first be soaked in warm water to make the rind more receptive to the pressing process. A sponge would then be used to press the rind, thus breaking the essential oil cavities, and absorb the essential oil. Once the sponge was filled with the extraction, it would then be pressed over a collecting container, and there it would stand to allow for the separation of the essential oil and water/juice. The essential oil would finally be siphoned off.
A more modern method of extraction, and less labor-intensive, has been termed the ecuelle a piquer process that involves a prodding, pricking, sticking action to release the essential oil. During this process, the rind of the fruit is placed in a container having spikes that will puncture the peel while the device is rotated. The puncturing of the rind will release the essential oil that is then collected in a small area below the container. The end process is the same as above. The majority of modern expression techniques are accomplished by using machines using centrifugal force. The spinning in a centrifuge separates the majority of essential oil from the fruit juice.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.
It was the French perfumer and chemist, Rene- Maurice Gattefosse, who coined the term “aromatherapie” in 1937 with his publication of a book by that name. His book “Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy” contains early clinical findings for utilizing essential oils for a range of physiological ailments. It seems vital to understand what Gattefosse’s intention for coining the word was, as he clearly meant to distinguish the medicinal application of essential oils from their perfumery applications.
So we can interpret his coining of the word “Aromatherapie” to mean the therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances (essential oils) for holistic healing. As the practice of aromatherapy has progressed, over the years, it has adopted a more holistic approach encompassing the whole body, mind and spirit (energy).
“Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is an art and science which seeks to explore the physiological, psychological and spiritual realm of the individual’s response to aromatic extracts as well as to observe and enhance the individual’s innate healing process. As a holistic practice, Aromatherapy is both a preventative approach as well as an active method to employ during acute and chronic stages of illness or ‘dis’-ease.
Methods of Application
A few things that aromatherapy oil based blends are useful for:
- Chronic or acute pain relief
- Arthritis & rheumatism (sub-acute phase)
- Chronic muscular/joint aches and pain
- Pregnancy and childbirth massage
- Reducing inflammation
- Enhancing immunity
- Relieving muscle spasms
- Relax and soothe the nervous system
- Aid in the treatment of sprains, strains, and repetitive movement injuries
- And much, much more…
Lotions, Creams & Body Butters Some of the uses for aromatherapy based Lotions, Creams & Body Butters
- Enhance wound healing
- Influence and slow aging of skin
- Scar reduction and improve appearance
- Support and enhance immune cells of the skin
- Balance sebum production
- Aid the process of detoxification in the skin
- Increase local circulation
- Improve tone of skin
- Encourage hydration of the skin, when used in conjunction with hydrosol/water or cream.
- Soften and soothe the skin
- Address emotional issues
Diffusion Depending on diffuser type, use as directed. Some of the benefits of using a Diffuser. Environmental ambiance
Insomnia or sleep disorders
Mood or motivation enhancement
Purify and improve air quality
Reduce airborne pathogens
Different types of inhalation
Direct inhalation refers to the technique of sniffing or inhaling an essential oil directly from a bottle, a handkerchief or a cotton-ball. Direct inhalations are most commonly employed for the relief of emotional distress and as supportive therapy for the relief of respiratory congestion or other respiratory ailments. Direct inhalations are also used for their effect on the nervous system.
Direct palm inhalation
Direct palm inhalation refers to the technique of sniffing or inhaling an essential oil/s or synergy directly from the palms of your hands. Direct palm inhalations are most commonly utilized for the relief of emotional distress, to uplift and transform ones consciousness, or simply to relax and breathe. It can be used as supportive therapy for the relief of respiratory congestion or other respiratory ailments.
Direct from bottle: Create a synergy (undiluted essential oils) utilizing 3-5 essential oils and place in a small bottle. Have client waft bottle under nose while taking deep inhalations. This can be done 3-4x a day or as needed.
Smelling salts: Create a synergy with a total of 20-30 drops utilizing 3-5 essential oils and place in a 10ml (1/3 ounce) bottle. Once the synergy is in the bottle, fill the remainder of the bottle with either fine or coarse sea salts. Have client waft bottle under nose while taking deep inhalations. This can be done 3-4x a day or as needed.
Handkerchief/Cotton-ball: Place 2-4 drops of essential oil or synergy on the tissue or cloth. Hold cloth in the palms of your hand and take 2-3 deep inhalations through the nose. If using a cotton ball, gently waft the cotton ball under the clients’ nose. This technique can be used 2-3x a day or as needed.
Inhaler tubes: Inhaler tubes are designed using 100% essential oil/s saturated on a cotton pad. **NOTE: Please be sure to use organic cotton pads. You can purchase these at a local health food store and cut the desired size to fit tube. Cotton is considered a ‘dirty’ crop, meaning it is heavily sprayed with pesticides. It is recommended to replace the cotton pad that comes in the tube with a certified organic cotton pad.
To make: Choose 2-3 essential oils to work with based upon a specific purpose. Decide how many drops of each essential oil so it adds up to 15 to 25 drops. Place drops of each essential oil in a small glass bowl/cup then place pad from inhaler into the bowl to absorb the essential oils. Use tweezers to move pad around a bit and then remove pad with tweezers and place in inhaler tube. Close inhaler tub and it is ready for use.
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): antispasmodic, menstrual cramps, sedative, relieves anxiety/stress, insomnia, great for children (comforting, soothing), anti-inflammatory
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): antispasmodic, relieves menstrual cramps, aphrodisiac, relaxing, relieves anxiety/stress, labor pain management
Eucalyptus smithii :
Eucalyptus smithii is a powerful decongestant that can be helpful for coughs, colds, flu and other respiratory ailments. It can be useful for headaches, neuralgia and in massage blends for the joints and muscles. (avoid with children under 2, use Eucalyptus radiata instead)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce): digestive, menstrual irregularities, antimicrobial
Frankincense (Boswellia frereana): strengthens the immune system (CO2 extract), soothes inflamed skin conditions, cell regenerative
Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum syn. graveolens): PMS, indicated for hormonal imbalance, antimicrobial, nerve pain
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): digestive, useful to eliminate gas, constipation, relieves nausea, warming emotionally and physically, anti-inflammatory, relieves pain, immune modulator
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum): cell regenerative, wound healing, anti-inflammatory, indicated for bruises and swelling
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): calming, reduces anxiety, wound healing, burns, cell regenerative, insect bites. reduces itchiness, general skin care, great for children, antispasmodic
Lemon (Citrus limon): antiviral, great for cleaning home, cleansing to environments (room spray), uplifting, detoxing
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus): cleansing, antiviral, insect repellant, use for cleaning, antimicrobial
Patchouli (Pogostemom cablin): antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, soothes the nervous system
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita): relieves nausea, analgesic for muscular aches and pains, relieves/reduces migraines, energizing, antispasmodic, do not use on children under 30 months of age
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): indicated for respiratory congestion, bronchitis, colds/flu, expectorant, expands and deepens the breath, energizing, clears the mind, sinus congestion, circulatory stimulant
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia): antimicrobial, supports/enhances immune system, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral
Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata): aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, antidepressant, nourishing
All Natural Now, LLC. is a company whose purpose is to bring healing and health to others through Natural Organic Products.
Using the finest ingredients, we handcraft products in small batches to ensure freshness and maintain our stance on not using preservatives.
We strongly believe in the ability to improve health and well being through “Alternative Medicine”. The results we have seen over the years….health being improved or restored to those who had given up hope. This has guided our path to create All Natural Now.