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Essential Oils – What are they?

Essential Oils – What are they?

Posted: 31/03/2022

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Essential oils are the highly concentrated essences derived from plants.  Used today in aromatherapy, fragrances and cosmetics they have a long history of natural healing.  The first recorded use of the oils are from as early as 4500 BC.  Archaeologists have proven their use for healing, aromatics and cosmetics by ancient civilisations including Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians and Chinese.  The term ‘aromatherapy’ arose in 1935 when a French Chemist used the oil of a lavender plant to effectively treat his burnt hand.

How the Oils are extracted
Plants’ essential oils are contained in tiny sacs on the surface of a leaf or flower or sometimes can be found within bark, seeds or roots.

There are 4 main methods of producing the oils depending on the plant material.

  1. Steam Distillation – this involves steaming and softening the plant causing pressure so the sacs break open.
  2. Expression – a simple process which involves pressing the plant material and collecting the oil. Mainly used for fruits.
  3. Absolute Extraction – this is for delicate plant material and involves drawing out the oils using lard on glass plates.
  4. CO2 Extraction– A newer process which converts CO2 gas into a liquid which diffuses through the plant material and extracts the oils.

How Essential Oils work
Sense of smell is the most sensitive and immediate of all the senses.  Chemicals in a scent can trigger physiological responses and affect our mental state.  The combined effects work holistically to balance mind, body and spirit promoting healing and overall wellbeing.

They have vast benefits including promoting relaxation, antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial effects, cleansing action, relief of pain and inflammation, influence hormones, reduce anxiety, to name a few.

The compounds contained in these oils can stimulate and activate cells needed for healing responses.

How to use
Essential oils can be used in cosmetics, perfumes, candles, diffusers, wax melts, cleaning products, on our pulse points and many other ways.

Path of Light use essential oil in many of our handmade products including our carefully blended bath salts and aromatherapy rollerballs.

It is important to ensure that you are buying a pure natural, good quality, sustainably produced essential oil.

Always follow advice and guidelines of use.  They are not a substitute for medical treatment.  Always consult a health professional.