Essential Oils 101
What are they?
Essential oils are volatile substances derived from plants, containing the natural smell and characteristics of the plant. They are extracted primarily through steam distillation. These potent, volatile, and versatile oils are often called the "life blood" of the plant. They have protective properties which are the plants' natural defense mechanism. They are volatile substances and can evaporate, unlike a fatty oil. Some oils last a very long time, while others, such as citrus, have a shorter shelf life.They are the purest and most potent form of the plant. For example, one drop of peppermint oil is 26 cups of peppermint tea, and 5,000 pounds of rose petals will yield 2.2 pounds of rose oil.
Essential oils are nothing new. They've been around a long time! They are the oldest form of medicine, dating back to 4,500 B.C. They are mentioned over 180 times in the Bible. In 1922, 120 liters of essential oils were discovered in King Tut's tomb in Egypt. When the oils were tested, they showed all of their chemical components, which means they were still potent. In the National Library of Medicine (pubmed.gov), there are over 14,000 references to essential oils.
Essential oils can be used to support all body systems: endocrine, skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, digestive, nervous, respiratory, urinary, lymphatic, reproductive, and integumentary. Each oil, like every living thing, carries a scientifically measurable frequency. Their frequency affects ours, which supports health and vitality. They more you apply oils, the more you expose yourself to higher frequencies and potentially better overall health. Use them often! Just as our bodies are constantly changing and adapting to our environments, so essential oils change to their environments, soil, water, etc. The final product can vary from time to time because they are not made in a lab. If you purchase an oil that smells exactly the same every time you do, that's a red flag that you've purchased something that's been chemically altered.
1. Commercial grade (example: orange oil for cleaning)
2. Perfume grade (have added petrochemicals)
3. Food/Flavoring grade (candy)
4. Therapeutic grade (put on your skin, safe to inhale and ingest)
How do I use them?
Aromatically: Fragrance is the substance of memories. Aroma inhaled causes the limbic system to send messages to the brain, which activates memories and emotions. When inhaling, it takes 22 seconds for an oil to reach the brain. The only way to reach the limbic system is through smell, which makes oils a great option for helping to support emotional and nervous system health. Diffusing is another way to inhale the oils. It purifies the air and makes your home smell good without chemicals.
Topically: Essential oils are rapidly absorbed by the skin. When applied topically it takes 2-3 minutes for an oil to reach the bloodstream, 20 minutes to affect every cell in the body, and then 2 1/2 hours to be metabolized. Some favorite places to apply oils are wrists, behind the ears, neck, temples, stomach, or especially feet.
Some oils, like citrus, are photosensitive, which means you are more prone to sunburn when wearing them in the sunshine.
Certain oils needed to be diluted before applying to the skin. Dilute a couple of drops of essential oil in a carrier oil, like olive, coconut, jojoba (personal favorite), or Young Living's V6 oil. Never put oils in eyes or ears. If an oil gets in your eyes, use a a drop of carrier oil to rinse it out. Never use water.
Internally: Essential oils can be used in water/drinks, cooking/baking, vegetable capsules, or suppositories. Be sure to use stainless steel or glass when drinking essential oils in water. Citrus oils especially can digest petrochemicals, so it's important not to use a plastic cup.
Next time I will be discussing the Seed to Seal process that Young Living uses when harvesting their essential oils and also discussing individual oils and their uses.
For more information, check out the website and our collection of kits to start using essential oils in your home: