What are Essential Oils?
When I say “essential oils”, I don't mean that they're essential to us the way amino acids are.
Essential refers, rather to the essence of the plant’s fragrance—the aroma that's unique to the specific plant.
IN ESSENCE, ESSENTIAL OILS ARE…
When you hold up a blooming rose flower to your nose and inhale that wonderful sweet aroma...what you bask in at that moment is the essence of the rose.
Not all plants give off an aroma though, so not all plants can be used to make essential oils.
But those that do, have the potential to benefit us in MANY WAYS!
Besides being called essential oils it's also referred to as "aromatic liquids".
Pretty badass name, huh?
What's less badass is the volatility of the oils. If you keep them even in normal temperatures, they start evaporating...
If you do that, you'll keep the freshness, the nutrients, and the oil itself!
The aroma (essence) you find in the plant is actually used to protect itself against predators... AND to attract pollinators like bees.
When we extract that essence we have essential oils!
So that begs the question...
How do we extract the essence from the plant?
We do that through distillation with the help of steam. There are many methods of extracting the essence but let's have a look at this one that uses steam.
Use a few seconds on this illustration to really grasp what's going on. It may seem overwhelming the first 10 seconds but after just 30 you'll know exactly what's up!
Here's what we can extract essential oils from:
This is why you can encounter an essential oil extracted from flowers (like rose oil) and those extracted from the fruit rind (like bergamot oil).
Every drop of essential oils is highly concentrated.
For example, approximately 50 rose flowers are needed to create just a single drop of rose oil! Imagine how many petals each flower has and how many of them is needed to make a 10ml bottle.
It's so concentrated that a little drop goes a long way to offer therapeutic benefits.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Based on many years of research, essential oils provide a ton more than just pleasant aromas.
They offer a variety of benefits ranging from wellness and healing of the body to religious purposes.
Essential oils have been used for ages in religious ceremonies, health remedies, beauty care, food preparation, preservation, perfumes, and more.
They have even been used for production of medicines, starting centuries ago all the way up until today. Essential oils are still the main ingredient in products of most pharmaceuticals. Back then, these oils were more commonly referred to as aromatic oils.
Essential oils have been used in folk medicine throughout history.
The earliest recorded mention of the techniques and methods used to produce essential oils is believed to be from Ibn al-Baitar, an Al-Andalusian (Muslim Spain) physician, pharmacist and chemist, who lived from 1188–1248.
While the oils have been used to multiple purposes, studies show that the Egyptians were the first to have used aromatic extracts for religious purposes, beauty, and culinary. They actually become well-known for their extensive knowledge of medicinal ointments, cosmetology, and aromatic oils.
They discovered that the oils could be transformed into pills, ointments, medicinal cakes, suppositories, and powders... Not long after, China and India also got into this special discovery and started using essential oils as well.
Not to go all religious on you here but did you know that essential oils are even mentioned in the Bible?
What's mentioned is:
Especially Frankincense and Myrrh. These two oils were two of the three gifts brought to baby Jesus.
Eventually, the popularity of essential oils spread throughout the globe. And, until today, these oils still boast of their many benefits and versatility.
They can be found in many of our daily-used products, we just don't know it!
Though essential oils are not literally essential to us, these potent oils offer a lot of benefits for our well-being which you'll discover during the next week we're together in this mini course.
There's a lot more to learn before I start recommending products, oils and all that fun stuff! The oils are extremely potent (and potentially dangerous), so they must be handled with knowledge and care.
Knowing what they are, and where they come from is ONLY THE FIRST STEP.
Our second lesson will focus on how essential oils are made. I went a little bit into it today. A little teaser about it if you will.
Tomorrow we'll unwrap the entire thing.
See you tomorrow. Same place. Same time!
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