Essential oils are natural chemical compounds forming the odoriferous essences of many plants. They are substances found in different plant tissues. Essential oils come from flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, seeds and bark of plants. Lavender oil, for example, comes from a flower; patchouli oil, from a sheet, and orange oil, from a fruit. The oils are formed in the green parts (with chlorophyll) of the plant and, when the plant grows, they are transported to other tissues, specifically buds in bloom.
Each essential oil contains the specific properties of the plant from which it is obtained. The chemical constituents are used for different purposes. For example, an essential oil can be a sedative (jasmine) while another it has the ability to stimulate (rosemary) the nervous system. Some are notable for its bactericidal properties (thyme), while others have greater analgesic capacity (mint).
Overall, thanks to its complex molecular composition, all essential oils are in varying degrees:
- Cell regenerators
- Improve blood and lymph circulation
- Balance the emotions
There are different methods to extract this precious substance depending the area of the plant where the essential oil is more concentrated.
It is the most common method of extraction of essential oils. It´s typically used with resistant plants whose essence is found in parts like leaves, stem or trunk. For this purpose an alembic is used in which the part of the plant to be distilled with water is introduced. When heated, the vapor trails volatile molecules of the plant that goes to another container with the steam. Upon cooling, the different density of water with the oil causes the essence to be deposited on the upper part separated from the steam, as converted into water.
This method is used to extract the essence of citrus fruits, because their essential oils are found in the outer skin of the fruit and to obtain them is necessary pressing their crust.
This technique consists of introducing the plant for some time in another liquid until it captures their properties. When steeping is done in vegetable oils is called oleate. When steeping is done in alcohol, is called tincture.
Extraction with volatile solvents
This technique is used to remove a very delicate part of the plant that could not bear steam distillation, such as the petals of flowers like rose or jasmine. This process is much more complex than the previous ones and a huge amount of raw material for extraction is needed. Therefore, the essential oils obtained with this system have a very high price. The process involves using certain solvents, as in the maceration, to get the plant essence retained in them. Then moisture is removed and the core is obtained.
It is very important to emphasize that the essential oils should never be ingested nor applied directly to the skin. It must always used diluted with water, mixed with so-called “base oil” (neutral oils) or by diffusion into the air.
Massage: It is one of the most effective methods, as to the effectiveness of essential oils joins the therapeutic power of massage. In a base oil (sweet almond or apricot, for example) it is diluted from 2.5% to 5% essential oil, depending on the chosen extract.
Bathroom: Take several drops of essential oils on the warm water in a bathtub and then dive for 15 to 20 minutes. By this means we are both inhaling vapor of essential oils as allowing them to penetrate through the skin.
Inhalation: We can put a few drops on a handkerchief and sniff or we can take from 6 to 12 drops in a pot of boiling water. Then place a towel or blanket covering both our head as the pot and inhale the steam for several minutes. Care must be taken not to get too close because we can burn the face with the steam.
Dissemination: There are a wide variety of products to fill the space of a room or an office with the aroma of essential oils. These products, called diffusers or sprays, spread essential oils in a cloud of tiny particles. These diffusers can be useful in cases of respiratory ailments or just to fill the air with a fragrance either calming or stimulating.
Compresses: These can be hot or cold. They are used to relieve headaches and muscle aches. You can add 5-10 drops of essential oil in half a glass of water. Soak a small towel in this solution and apply to the painful area.
The main properties of the essential oils are,
- Bergamot: Antidepressant. Antiseptic properties. Ideal for the care of fats and stained skins. Cream preparations applied for the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and acne. It is highly effective in baths and sprayed in the room or work environment.
- Cinnamon: Stimulant, antiseptic, excellent for preventing colds and flu.
- Cedar: Calming, harmonizing, respiratory tonic. It is used as a supplement for treating hair loss and dandruff. Beneficial fats care and stained skins.
- Cypress: Antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, antirheumatic. Useful for the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and whooping cough.
- Eucalyptus: Powerful antiseptic and decongestant.
- Juniper: Detoxifying. Restores mental balance. Ideal for baths and massages for cellulite. Diuretic properties.
- Geranium: Mental, physical and emotional Balancing. Helps regulate the hormonal functions. It is diuretic and astringent. Massage in areas with cellulite.
- Incense: Soothing. Aid to meditation.
- Jasmine: Relaxing. Ideal for skin care, especially dry skin. Sensual properties.
- Lavender: Cleaner. Debubblizer, excellent restful for tired muscles, healing, ideal for burns.
- Lemon: Purifying. Refreshing. Stimulating the lymphatic system. Astringent. Antacid, antiseptic.
- Chamomile: Relaxing, soothing effects on the mind and body. It applies to pain and inflammation and to the states of anger and angry mood. Ideal for protecting dry skin. Restful sleep.
- Balm: Soothing. Its aroma is soft and exquisite. Ideal for protecting the skin from the cold.
- Mint: Stimulating, refreshing. Excellent to clear the head.
- Orange: Anxiety, depression, insomnia.
- Patchouli: Calm and lifts the spirit. To accompany the learning process. Allows release of fluid in cases of edema, fluid retention and obesity.
- Rosemary: Tones and lifts. Stimulating cardiac, hepatic and biliary tonic level. It is used for hair adding a few drops in the shampoo.
- Rose: Female Properties. Chill Pill. Toning. Excellent for or dry, mature aging skin. Sensual properties.
- Salvia: Soothing, relaxing, antidepressant, for all kinds of stress and tension. It is useful in the treatment of asthma, throat infections and skin care. Add a few drops in the rinse after shampoo for oily hair and dandruff.
- Sandalwood: Relaxing, harmonizing, aid to meditation. Excellent for dry skin.
- Tea Tree: Powerful antiseptic. Excellent for treating all skin conditions for its antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and healing.
- Thyme: Prevents infections in general, strengthening the immune system. Pulmonary Purifier, stimulating blood circulation.
- Ylang-Ylang: An exotic oil, sensual, aphrodisiac properties. Excellent for skin care. Calm, relaxing.