Essential Oils FAQ's
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential Oils are fragrant oils derived from plants. They can come from the bark, roots, stems, flowers or seeds of a plant. They are most often obtained from the plant through a process of distillation.
What are essential oils, then? They are highly concentrated compounds that come directly from plants and can bear the healing or therapeutic benefits of that plant. some say its the life force or soul of the plant.
You may be wondering "How do essential oils work?" The oils are comprised of very small molecules that your body can absorb through the skin or nose. Once in your system, they interact with your body in various ways.
How do essential oils work when it comes to killing germs on surfaces? Do essential oils work for that purpose? Yes, research has shown that essential oils can be effective against bacteria. They can penetrate the bacterium's cell wall and act on the bacterium from within.
Most essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin. Instead, they should be combined with “real” oils (called carrier oils), waxes, butters, alcohols, or other diluting measures. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute, you may end up with an unfortunate reaction (and unhappy skin).
Do people ingest essential oils?
Oral ingestion of essential oils is NOT recommended for the general public because a great deal of essential oils knowledge and expertise is necessary for safe practice.
The ingestion of essential oils is not common practice in the US. In France, it is more common, but only when specially trained physicians and pharmacists prescribe and dispense them. There are several reasons for caution, including the following:
- Some essential oils can be toxic to the liver or kidneys when ingested.
- Chemical breakdown of essential oils during gastric processing can change the effects.
- There could be potential drug interactions. (Tisserand and Balacs, 1995; Schnaubelt, 1999)
What makes an oil "Therapeutic Grade" ?
In fact, there is no official grading system in place that makes any one oil a “therapeutic grade oil”, and another one not. Any company can technically call their oils “therapeutic grade” as the term is simply used solely for marketing purposes. No 3rd party certification office or institution exists to stamp or ensure that these terms are used properly and really only for situations where in fact the oils are pure, complete and unadulterated. If the oils are sourced and distilled properly, all aromatherapy oils should still contain all of their therapeutic benefits that come inherent with the source of that plant.