When applied sensibly and appropriately, essential oils are highly beneficial.
Essential oils influence and support the immune system (for example, they are anti-microbial), they are skin healing and rejuvenating, they directly influence the Limbic System (the instinctive and emotional centre) within the brain in a way that affects mood and emotion, memory and concentration, and they instigate various other physiological and neural responses (via olfactory receptors found, not only in the nasal cavities, but also in other tissues and organs throughout the body). Essential oils are adaptogenic, protective, and restorative.
What is an essential oil?
Essential oils comprise of a highly concentrated mixture of various volatile organic chemical components extracted from certain plants or their parts (such as, leaves, fruits, flowers, bark, roots and so on). While essential oils demonstrate similar qualities to those exhibited by the plant, the process of extraction changes their chemical profile. Many of the oils non-volatile and hydrophilic (water loving) components are left behind, or bond with water molecules during distillation, or with oxygen molecules in the atmosphere during extraction. The resultant essential oil, thus, comprises of a high concentration of mostly hydrophobic / lipophilic (water hating / fat loving) components, and is rendered a unique entity unto itself.
It takes 35 pounds of lavender flowers to produce just 15ml of essential oil (or approximately 300 drops).
Their hydrophobic nature means essential oils do not dissolve in water; molecules will cluster together, float on the surface of water, or will sink.
While they are oil-like in their behaviour (i.e. they do not mix with water) they are not ‘greasy’ or ‘oily’ in the way that fat or vegetable oil is; they are not lubricant and are, in fact, extremely drying to the skin, and in high quantities (even in small quantity in some cases) will cause irritation. This is why essential oils are always blended in an emollient, such as a vegetable oil, ointment, cream or lotion, when applied to the body (emollients can also add their own unique skin supporting qualities when carefully blended with essential oils, to create a very effective skincare synergy – see here for blending information).
When prescribed by a pharmacist or herbalist for internal ingestion, essential oils are applied in small controlled amounts, and are contained in a ‘safe to swallow’ gel-like, preferably vegetable, capsule (composed of hypromellose, a polymer formulated from plant cellulose). The animal version (gelatine) is derived from skin or bone collagen (not suitable for vegans or vegetarians). Essential oils are not recommended for internal ingestion unless they are prescribed and administered by a professional healthcare practitioner, herbalist or pharmacist.
Employing their antimicrobial, skin and underling soft tissue healing qualities, essential oils may be safely and effectively applied topically to skin in dilution in gels, ointment and compresses to treat local conditions, such as eczema, sprains, insect bites, and to heal damaged skin tissue, improve the appearance of scars, and combat minor infections.
They are also effectively applied in dilution via inhalation using other methods of application, such as, vaporisation (room diffuser and/or drops on a tissue to inhale), aroma sticks (specially designed nasal inhalers), ‘therapeutic perfumes’ (for example, using a roller bottle), and steam inhalation – for example, respectively, applied as an ambient scent; to relieve the symptoms of a cold or sore throat; or for their psycho-emotional benefits (uplifting, calming, energising), and so on.
The following essential oils are collectively referred to as Serenity essential oils. This group of oils complement each others qualities well. They are safe (when handled appropriately), are very effective, and provide all that you need to create your own basic remedies. Thus, they provide an ideal ‘starting kit’ and effective ‘tool box’.
You will find much more information about the therapeutic qualities and appropriate use and application of essential oils, in my books, Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation, and Essential Oils for the Whole Body, available to purchase at most online and high street book outlets.
Book on an essential oil training workshop or course here