Essential Oils and Blended 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?
Mostly, essential oils are obtained by steam distillation although other methods are used. Citrus fruits are cold pressed by mechanical means, and the oil from delicate flowers is obtained by a more sophisticated method that produces what is known as an absolute – not an essential oil. This special process is used because delicate flowers can not withstand the high temperatures needed to extract essential oils by steam distillation.
After extraction, the resulting essential oil is a highly concentrated liquid that contains the aroma and therapeutic properties of the source from which it came. Nothing should be added or removed from this oil if it is to be used in aromatherapy. To achieve maximum therapeutic benefits, essential oils should be exactly as they came from the still – 100% pure and natural. A true essential oil.
Standardised essential oils
Some industries reprocess essential oils in order to make them meet a required odour or flavour ‘profile’. To achieve this, synthetic chemicals are added to the essential oil and often certain unwanted non-fragrance components are removed (rectification). This ‘standardisation’ is common practice in the perfumery and flavour industries in order to maintain absolute consistency in fragrance or taste, and this is fine. However, this practice is totally unacceptable if the essential oil is for use in aromatherapy. To Quinessence, this is adulteration – not standardisation.
Adulterated essential oils may often smell acceptable to the untrained nose, but because they are extended with synthetic chemicals or diluted with vegetable oil it makes them extremely poor value for money. Not only that, but if an essential oil has been standardised, adulterated or adjusted in any way it simply won’t be as effective. Adulterated essential oils are aften the cause if skin sensitisation and irritation – completely the opposite of what we aim to achieve in aromatherapy.
Look for purity in essential oils
This is why you should always buy essential oils from long established and trusted aromatherapy suppliers who specialise in supplying therapeutically active essential oils for aromatherapy, and not the more common commercial grade that have been adjusted to meet the requirements of the perfumery or flavouring industries. To meet the high quality for aromatherapy, an essential oil should be extracted from a single botanical species that has been botanically authenticated, and derived from a known country of origin.
To be 100% pure, nothing should be added or taken away from the oil after extraction. To enable us to meet this requirement, every essential oil supplied by Quinessence has been analytically tested for purity using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) to establish its purity. This is why all our oils are guaranteed to be pure, natural and unadulterated.
The science bit
The chemistry of an essential oil is extremely complex, and a typical example of an oil will contain an elaborate mixture of aromatic constituents such as alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, lactones, phenols, terpenes and sesquiterpenes that combine to produce a unique set of therapeutic qualities.
This complex mixture of natural chemicals is what makes essential oils such effective healing agents; for example eucalyptus oil is refreshing and invigorating, eases muscular aches and pains, plus it is a very powerful antiseptic agent. This means that in aromatherapy there are several ways to use essential oils to enjoy using your essential oils to promote physical and emotional health and well-being.
Health benefits of essential oils
Essential oils possess a wide range of healing properties that can be used effectively to keep you in the best of health as well as looking good. These health-giving benefits include improving the complexion of your skin by stimulating cellular renewal, easing aches and pains, balancing roller-coaster emotions and fighting bacteria, fungi and other forms of infection. Essential oils have an almost endless list of therapeutic uses, and science continues to discover more about them every year.
But be sure of achieving text-book results, you must use essential oils of the very highest quality, sourced by experts, from the finest producing regions around the world. Although cheaper essential oils may appear to save you money, they will certainly not deliver the results that you are entitled to expect. Therefore you will have wasted your hard-earned cash.
Quinessence are committed to supplying only the very finest, organic essential oils produced from ecologically grown products, so we work closely with farmers to ensure as much as humanly possible that our essential oils are produced from plants that have not been subjected to the use of pesticides or herbicides.
To guarantee this level of quality and purity, every essential oil is subjected to the most searching analytical procedures, including GC/MS chromatography.
How to use Essential Oils
One of the great things about essential oils is their tremendous versatility and ease of use in aromatherapy. An amazing amount of power is packed into each drop, and this makes it very easy to use them in daily life to improve your health and wellbeing.
But because they can be used so many ways it can be tricky at first for newcomers to get started, since they don’t yet know how to use esseential oils safely for health and well being. And safety is very important in aromatherapy.
It can be great fun learning how to use essential oils and trying out all the different ways they can be enjoyed, but you must use them properly to be safe and get the best results. Since essential oils are so powerful, they usually need to be diluted before you can use them.
The correct way to dilute and apply them is very important if you are to receive all the benefits of an oil, because no matter how good its quality may be, inhaling essential oil from a tissue or burner won’t do much to ease an aching back!
Here are some of the easiest and most popular methods showing how to use essential oils, simply choose the method that best suits your particular requirements. Of course, to really experience the benefits and versatility of aromatherapy – you should try them all – but not all at the same time!
Massage is one of the best ways to enjoy aromatherapy because you not only receive the healing properties of the oils, but you also get the wonderful, stimulating benefits of the massage treatment itself. The therapeutic properties of essential oils when brought together with the revitalising effects of massage stimulate all of the organs in the body, plus the skin, muscles, nerves and glands. The increased circulation of the blood and lymph flow also assists with the clearing away of toxins from the body.
You can choose just one, or up to five different essential oils suitable for your own particular needs and add them to your carrier using a total of 5 drops to 10ml (1 tablespoon) of carrier oil or lotion. If you have particularly sensitive skin use only 3 drops of oil to every 10ml of carrier.
Nothing beats a warm soothing bath at the end of a stressful day, and adding relaxing oils such as Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Lavender, Sweet Marjoram or Sandalwood makes it a truly blissful experience. Alternatively you can use stimulating oils such as eucalyptus, lemongrass or rosemary in the morning to give you an invigorating start to the day. This is probably one of the easiest ways to use essential oils.
Add 6 to 8 drops of oil to the water and agitate vigorously to disperse them evenly before getting in, or add a capful of Bath Dispersant to the water before adding the oils. Whilst relaxing in the bath you are breathing in the aromatic molecules of oil and they also penetrate the skin.
When using several essential oils together in a bath, ensure that you do not exceed a total of 8 drops. Citrus oils may be mildly irritating to some sensitive skins, so use no more than 3 drops. Bathing can be particularly helpful if used in combination with massage oils, but always take a bath first, and then apply the massage oil.
Footbaths are great after you have been out walking, exercising or perhaps digging in the garden all day and your feet begin to complain. Comforting oils such as Black Pepper, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Sweet Marjoram or Rosemary can really help to ease those aches and pains away.
When your feet are hot, a soothing and refreshing aromatherapy footbath using just one drop each of cooling and refreshing Peppermint, Rosemary and Lavender will bring blissful relief and have you back on your feet in no time at all. A footbath is the ideal alternative to a conventional bath for the elderly. You only need 3 or 4 drops of essential oil in a footbath.
This is a highly effective method for both pain relief and emergency first aid. Use a hot compress for relieving chronic pain, muscle aches, period cramps etc, and a cold compress for reducing swelling, sprains and headaches.
Put 4-6 drops of oil into very hot or icy cold water, and using a folded piece of absorbent material soak up the oils without fully immersing in the water, wring out excess and apply to the affected area. Finally, cover the area with a towel or wrap with polythene.
Used for centuries to help all respiratory tract problems, this method is a highly effective way to deliver essential oils into your system. Fill a large bowl with almost boiling water and add 3 or 4 drops of your individual oil or mixed blend. Close your eyes, lean over the bowl and breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes until relief is felt. For best results place a large towel over the head and ensure it surrounds the bowl entirely to help direct the vapours.
If you suffer with blocked sinuses or congestion during the winter, you will find that using Cypress, Eucalyptus Radiata, Fir Silver, Frankincense, Peppermint, Pine, Ravensara or Tea Tree in your vaporiser can bring tremendous relief. When you have a case of the sniffles or a runny nose remember, these same oils all have highly effective antiviral properties too and are ideal to kill those nasty bugs.
This is another easy way to use essential oils, especially if you need instant relief when you are suffering from a cold, asthma attack or hay fever. Simply put 3 or 4 drops of essential oil onto a tissue or handkerchief and gently inhale directly from the tissue for instant relief. This quick and easy way to use essential oils to use is perfect when you are out of the house, and it is also the recommended method for asthmatics who should not expose themselves to steam-type treatemnts.
Vaporisers and burners
These devices enable you use essential oils effectively to clear stale cooking odours in the kitchen, clear a stuffy nose, ease a tickly cough, or create a harmonious and relaxing atmosphere anywhere in the home. The natural antiseptic properties of certain oils can also be employed during illnesses to kill airborne bacteria and help prevent the spread of infections.
You can choose from traditional candle-powered burners or modern temperature controlled electric models. The very latest electric designs atomize the oils without using heat and give the very best representaion of the oils true aroma.
For a powerful bug-busting gargle add 1 drop of Tea Tree and 1 drop of Ravensara to a half-teaspoon of honey and mix together well. Add this mixture to hot water, take a small mouthful and gargle for about thirty seconds, then spit it out. Repeat the process several times, and for maximum effect you should use this treatment every 4 hours.
How to choose a carrier oil
There is a wide range of carrier oils to choose from, plus some other infused or macerated oils such as Calendula and St Johns Wort. The variety of vegetable oils available to a newcomer can seem a little bewildering at first, since there is very little written on this important subject in many books. But choosing which one is for you is not really complicated at all.
Choosing a carrier oil is exactly the same as choosing an essential oil really, – you choose one with the properties that you need for your particular needs. You just need to know some basic facts about the properties, actions and viscosity of vegetable oils, and then choosing becomes easier. Our simple reference chart below will help get you started.
All of these vegetable oils are the very finest that you can use for intensive facial treatments and body massage, and they can be combined to suit your particular requirements. Experiment with your oils until you find what works best for you – that’s one of the keys to success with aromatherapy.
Sweet Almond, Peach and Apricot oils are highly versatile and can be used for both body massage and facial treatments since they are light and easily absorbed. If you are concerned about the possibility of nut-allergy reactions then Sunflower is a perfect body oil since it is extracted from seeds, and the same applies to Grapeseed.
Black Seed, Borage, Evening Primrose, Jojoba and Rosehip oils all deliver outstanding results in facial treatments, but may need diluting with another lighter oil if you want to use them in body massage. None of these oils are extracted from nuts either.
Unrefined Avocado and Wheatgerm are perfect for nourishing the skin in an overnight treatment, but are a little too heavy to use in body massage. They have a strong odour that some people do not like, but please don’t let that put you off! They are excellent, deep nourishing oils that will provide essential fatty acids and nutrients to soften your skin.
If you want to use these richer oils in body massage or facial treatments just add them to a lighter oil such as Almond, Apricot or Peach oil at around 15-20%, – then you can enjoy all their therapeutic benefits without the odour. Of course you can do the same with any of the other deep-nourishing oils – and it helps keep the cost per treatment down too.
To complete your massage or facial oil simply add 1 drop of pure essential oil to every 5mls of carrier oil that you use. If you are having a facial treatment remember to avoid the delicate under-eye area and don’t apply too much oil – a little goes a long way. Gently work the oil into the skin until it has all been absorbed, and your skin will be left feeling soft and silky smooth.