Featuring Young Living Essential Oils

Essential Oils Basics

Essential oils are a marvelous tool in your journey of transformation! They work on many levels, and often can soothe your moods, calm your mind, and harmonize the body. There are essential oils that are stimulating, and those that are calming! They have such a wide variety of benefits that

learning how to work with them effectively can take years of study! However, everyone can choose a few basic essential oils and work with them and get amazing results!

The best essential oils are the distilled volatile oils of healing plants, in a very concentrated form. Therapeutic, or Medical grade essential oils are of a different caliber than fragrance oils and the common over the counter type essential oils that one finds in the health food store that claim they are pure and therapeutic. Basically, essential oils are a “buyer beware” market in the United States, as the FDA does not regulate the use of essential oils except as food additives, and some are “Generally Recognized as Safe” as food additives. However, the chemicals and extenders which may or may not be approved by the FDA as food additives are often added to commonly available essential oils, which make them unsuitable for serious therapeutic use.

For those who are serious about their health, please educate yourself on how to evaluate and choose the appropriate essential oils for therapeutic use. There are several types of essential oils that are marketed at this time, and they are designed for different uses, so it is good to understand the different types of essential oils and what they are appropriate for, and most especially, what they are NOT appropriate for! Here is a basic overview of a complex subject, just to get you started:

1. Synthetic Fragrance Oils:

The most common type of “essential oil”, which I don’t personally consider to be an essential oil are “fragrance” oils. These are usually synthetic chemicals put together to mimic a scent. These are most commonly used in candles, bath products, body sprays, lotions, shampoos, and commercial perfumes. (Commercial perfumes probably have both synthetic and real essential oils. The more expensive the perfume, the more likely it contains some real essential oils, but MOST of them have some synthetic oils in them.) Ironically, we have become so used to synthetic copies of popular fragrances, such as Rose and Lavender, so that many people are surprised when they smell the “real deal”, and in a blind test, would choose the synthetics as the real thing, because that is what they are used to!

If you get an apple spice scented candle, the odds are, it is a synthetic fragrance. Synthetic fragrances are less expensive to produce than the “real” essential oil, so are used in cosmetic products and candles, to keep the cost down. Also, obviously, there is no “apple” essential oil that would smell like the fruit of an apple! That oil is synthetically made, and it is fun to have those scents available. However, these oils should not be used therapeutically, because you have no idea what chemicals are in them, and especially, if you are environmentally sensitive, avoid these!

Many people who claim that they are allergic to essential oils are often NOT sensitive to pure, therapeutic grade oils. They are reacting to the synthetic oils that are in commercial perfumes, body products, candles, room scents, etc. If you have had a reaction to someone’s perfume, don’t assume you cannot work with pure essential oils. Most likely, unless you are allergic to the actual plant that they are derived from, you will be able to tolerate real therapeutic grade essential oils. However, if you have asthma or serious allergies, or environmental sensitivities, proceed with caution, and do patch tests on the inside of your arm before slathering a bunch of it on yourself!

2. Essential Oil Absolutes – Expensive, commonly used in high end perfumes/cosmetics:

Absolutes are used by the perfume industry and sometimes in cosmetics, although they are usually used only in the most expensive products, especially now that there are so many inexpensive synthetics available. Absolute is a word which designates the process by which the essential oils were extracted. One example is Rose Oil absolute. Often, absolutes are the extracts of flowers, which yield a low percentage of essential oil. It takes so much raw material, or so many flower petals, to extract a few drops of oil, and the flowers are so delicate, that steam distillation (the preferred method) is either too expensive or yields too little to be economically effective. Therefore, the oils are chemically extracted.

The traditional way of doing this was to place the flower petals on grease or fat of some type, and let the essential oils of the flower infuse itself into the fat. The obvious problem was, how do you get the delicate, complex essential oils out of the fat? Well, they use chemicals to do this, to separate the volatile essential oils from the fat! The problem? There is always some residual of the chemical used to extract the oils that are left in the essential oil. Therefore, absolutes are great for scenting, and using them for aromatherapy (smelling them), but usually are not used for topical use, or certainly not ingested! This category of oils can be allergy culprits, so be cautious when engaging! However, they are also some of the most beautiful scents!

The precious flowers, like Rose and Neroli, Magnolia, Iris, etc. are more affordable when bought in absolute form. They are also more complex, because they have more of the heavier molecules left in the oil than steam distilled oils, so they are richer in scent, in my opinion. As long as you know how to use them, they are beautiful! NOTE: A new technique, CO2 extraction, is cleaner, and those oils are generally less contaminated, as they use CO2 gas extraction.

3. Steam distilled essential oils – the Best type for Therapeutic Use:

These essential oils are extracted through the process of steam distillation. The plant matter is placed in a cooker and the steam takes the volatile essential oils out of the plant matter into a cooling system, which distills the steam into a liquid. This is the purest form of essential oil, as only the volatile oils which are light enough to be carried into steam are extracted. It also eliminates contaminants like fungus, fertilizers, etc. that might be on the plant, for the most part. This category is the one which is generally considered the only one to use for therapeutic use. Some essential oils, such as Rose oil, are available as both Absolute and Steam Distilled. Usually, the steam distilled version is a lot more expensive! It will also be stronger and more powerful. Many essential oils are only produced overseas, and U.S. companies import them to resell.

Issues with steam distilled essential oil – You might think that buying a steam distilled oil guarantees you purity and therapeutic grade, but there are further issues to address:

• Chemical contaminants added after distillation is done – often, steam distilled oils are low yield, so it is customary in some parts of the world to “extend” the volume by adding fragrance free chemical extenders, to make the batch bigger, so more money is made. Some companies add fragrance enhancers, such as synthetic scents, to keep the batches consistent, or improve the scent if the oil turned out to be low quality, due to weather conditions, etc. It would shock you if you knew how often this is done!
Currently, due to lack of regulation in the U.S., there are many chemicals which can be added to essential oils without triggering any legal problems. This is why any reputable essential oil company will do gas chromatograph testing of every batch of oils it buys from a Distiller to resell, in order to find out if any chemicals have been added that are not supposed to be there! Some companies do no testing, others do random samples. For me, with my allergies, I want to KNOW that every batch is tested! There are very few companies in the U.S. that test every single batch.

• As stated above, economically, steam distilled oils are often low yield, and it takes time to distill them properly. If you distill them at too high a temperature, it fractures the complex molecules, and you still have the fragrance, but the therapeutic qualities are no longer there. It is similar to burning your food or overcooking one’s broccoli – it is still there, but not very nourishing. (Is it still broccoli, or is it green mush?) To speed up the distillation process, and to make more money, Distillers often cook the plant matter at high temperatures and put it under pressure, similar to cooking your food in a pressure cooker.
This makes business sense, and for some applications, like the candle and body scent industry, it is ok, but if you are trying to support your body’s health with the resulting oil, it may not work! This, in my opinion, is one of the reasons that people who try buying “over the counter” essential oils, don’t get good results. Even if they are not contaminated with chemicals, they are often fractured by too much heat and pressure when they are distilled.

When I first started out in massage, I tried various essential oils that I bought “over the counter”, which were reputable companies, and claimed to be therapeutic grade. I kind of gave up on it, because the results I got were not impressive, and the work of mixing scents in my massage oils and the cost of buying them did not really give me enough return for my investment. Then, I was introduced to a line of essential oils that are therapeutic grade, and did meet all the criteria above, and my results were dramatic! I was hooked!

Since then, I have become certified in Aromatherapy from Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy, and learned about the chemistry of essential oils, and the science behind their actions. It is a fascinating study, and well worth some investment, if you have an interest!

There are a few essential oil companies which I work with, but until you get educated, be aware that you may not get the therapeutic results you want until you find a company that offers truly therapeutic grade essential oils. Until then, don’t discount essential oils and their healing qualities, because you may not have been working with the “real deal”!

Auriel Coleman

Auriel recommends Young Living Essential oils as a wonderful line of essential oils that are of the highest quality, and have a lot of educational materials to work with as well! They are a great place for most people to start, and you can trust all of their products to be of the highest quality. For more information, contact Auriel or schedule an Aromatherapy Consultation so you can learn more about Young Living Oils and even purchase essential oils from Auriel, if you are ready to get started!

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***This author makes no medical claims for essential oils.  Please seek a doctor’s care for any condition of pain, inflammation, or injury.

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@Auriel Coleman 2012 All Rights Reserved

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