It seems that essential oil users are increasing by the day. But what really is an essential oil? A short answer is the life blood of a plant. More descriptive and scientific, The Essential Oils Pocket Reference says they are “volatile liquids and aromatic compounds found within the [plant parts] that are usually extracted through steam distillation.” (p. 1)
To consider more what they are and how they work in our human bodies, remember
- They are concentrated. It takes a pound of peppermint leaves to make a 15 ml bottle of peppermint essential oil. That’s a lot of peppermint leaves. But one drop of peppermint oil is wow! I had a drop in my water just a bit ago, so I will attest to the intensity. My nose even tickles when I lift the cup to my mouth!
- They are tiny. They can enter the cell through the membrane.
- They move. Once they are in the cell they can move throughout the body, through the bloodstream and the body tissues. It takes only about 20 minutes for an essential oil applied topically to go to every cell in your body.
An essential oil is not just one liquid. It is a structure made up of many different chemicals. Lavender essential oil contains about 200 different constituents. These vary in amount from one harvest to another, affected down to the time of day of the harvest. So, one essential oil can help to support the human body in more than one way. Cedarwood essential oil is great for supporting sleep, but it also can help with focus, supporting the neurological system.
When the essential oil enters a cell, some of its compounds begin cleaning up the bad information in them. Then they “de-program” that bad information. Like a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, that final copy is a bit off from the original. The essential oil helps it get back to how it should be. Finally the essential oil’s compounds, of which there are hundreds, put the good information back into the cell.
Essential oils can be used topically, inhaled (through distillation or simply smelling an open bottle of oil), or ingested. Though there are various schools of thought on this, I urge each person to do research to determine what is best for his or her family. I only use and recommend Young Living essential oils. They have the best quality control, hands-down.
Essential oils have also been used for thousands of years for health, spiritual, emotional, and cosmetic reasons. Young Living essential oils are extracted through steam distillation and cold pressing, depending on the specific oil. These pure, concentrated oils are are more potent than the dried herbs or the plant itself and can produce results quickly and effectively.
This just skims the surface. It is the bare bones; the intro to the intro on essential oils. What else would you like to learn? What questions do you have?
Jenkins, Andrew Edward, The Husband’s Field Guide: Navigating Your Wife’s Essential Oil Habit (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), 95-105.
Essential Oils Pocket Reference (5th ed.) (Life Science Publishing, 2011), 1.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure. I only use, refer to, and recommend Young Living essential oils as they have the best quality control and use the Seed-to-Seal process.