joi, 17 februarie 2011

What are Essential Oils ?

Essential oils are the concentrated essence of plant material widely used in aromatherapy. They are exclusively made from botanical matter, so any fragrance that contains musk (an animal product), for instance, is not pure essential oil. They are often confused with synthetic fragrance oils, which are chemical recreations of scents made primarily from coal tar. While these fragrance oils may smell identical to their botanical counterparts, they do not feature the same chemical structure and will not have the same therapeutic effects; their use is limited to perfumery.
Essential oils are typically extracted from plant matter via steam distillation. The plant material is treated with steam, which 'cooks' the plant, breaking it down and releasing its essential oil. The steam containing the essential essences is cooled and the oil separated from the water and filtered to become essential oils.

Some essential oils can be extracted through pressing, just as grape juice can be pressed from the grape. If you twist a piece of lemon or orange rind, the rind will yield a bit of liquid which is oily and smells strongly of the fruit - this oil is the fruit's essential oil and is easily extractable through a press.

Essential oils vary widely in price, depending largely on the amount of plant material needed to make them. The citrus oils are quite economical to make, since the citrus rind contains a lot of oil, and thus less expensive than the oils derived from flowers, which contain very little oil. It can take over a hundred pounds (45 kilograms) of lavender flowers to make a pound of lavender essential oil. That may sound high, until you consider that it takes over a thousand pounds (450 kilograms) of jasmine to make a pound of jasmine essential oil. Jasmine, rose and neroli (orange blossom) are among the most costly of all the essential oils.

While a very few essential oils, such as lavender and tea tree, are safe to apply directly to the skin, most are so concentrated that they must be diluted with 'carrier oils'. Carrier oils are massage oils typically made from nuts and seeds - apricot kernel, grapeseed and jojoba are all good blending oils.

The aromatherapeutic effects of essential oils can be administered in different ways, depending on the oil and the effect. Skin absorption is one of the most common methods - a dilute blend of essential oils and carrier oils are massaged into the skin, which absorbs the active ingredient of the essential oil into the bloodstream.

Inhalation of steam containing vaporized essential oils is often a very effective way to treat respiratory complaints, and is also one of the most widely used methods of using essential oils for their mood-enhancing and emotion-stabilizing effects. A few drops of essential oil in a small glass bowl of water over a tealight candle is all you need to infuse your surroundings with a lovely scent that can calm or invigorate, depending on the oil you choose. 

Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils
  • There are, however, commonly accepted practices involved in the growing, harvesting and distilling of therapeutic-grade essential oils. Understanding these practices is essential to obtaining the best essential oils.
  • It is a safe alternative if you have a busy household where another type of diffuser might be knocked over accidentally. Essential oil diffusers for therapeutic use differ from their room-freshener cousins. Heating therapeutic-grade oils diminishes their effectiveness, so these diffusers operate without generating heat.

Essential Oil Blends 
  • Examples of middle notes are lavender, rosemary, juniper and nutmeg, while examples of base notes are rose, clove, sandalwood and jasmine. When mixing an essential oil blend, beginners usually make sure they have all three notes in their blend.
  • As for its fragrance, myrrh essential oil acts as a perfume when combined with other types of aromatherapy oils. Compatible essential oil blends include myrrh with frankincense, lavender, sandalwood, rosewood, thyme, and others such as juniper and patchouli.
Frankincense Essential Oil
  • The oil can also be applied directly to sores and damaged skin with a washcloth. Some who use frankincense essential oil also claim that the substance, rubbed into the skin, can help alleviate joint ailments such as arthritis.
  • As for its fragrance, myrrh essential oil acts as a perfume when combined with other types of aromatherapy oils. Compatible essential oil blends include myrrh with frankincense, lavender, sandalwood, rosewood, thyme, and others such as juniper and patchouli. 

Sandalwood Essential Oil 
  • It may also be added to bath products and candles. In aromatherapy, sandalwood essential oil is believed to have a calming effect. It is also used to focus the mind for meditation.
  • As for its fragrance, myrrh essential oil acts as a perfume when combined with other types of aromatherapy oils. Compatible essential oil blends include myrrh with frankincense, lavender, sandalwood, rosewood, thyme, and others such as juniper and patchouli.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil 
  • In parts of the Pacific Rim, ylang ylang, with its heavy and sweet scent similar to jasmine, is associated with weddings and honeymoons. Ylang ylang essential oil comes in four grades: ylang extra, ylang I, ylang II, and ylang III.
  • Almost all materials that are used to make essential oil only require one process of essential oil distillation. There are just a few exceptions. Ylang ylang is one of those exceptions. Most essential oil distillation happens on an industrial level with oil produced in large quantities for use in body products or for retail sale.

Bergamot Essential Oil on wiseGEEK:
  • Bergamot is also used to enhance the flavor and aroma of Earl Grey tea. In aromatherapy, bergamot essential oil is believed to inspire feelings of love, happiness and self-confidence.
  • To enhance the stimulating properties of eucalyptus essential oil, it can be blended with orange or bergamot essential oils while lavender may increase its relaxing effects. Applied topically, eucalyptus essential oil has been known to alleviate arthritis and cramps. 

List of essential oils

Essential oils are volatile and liquid aroma compounds from natural sources, usually plants. Essential oils are not oils in a strict sense, but often share with oils a poor solubility in water. Essential oils often have an odor and are therefore used in food flavoring and perfumery. Essential oils are usually prepared by fragrance extraction techniques such as distillation (including steam distillation), cold pressing, or extraction (maceration). Essential oils are distinguished from aroma oils (essential oils and aroma compounds in an oily solvent), infusions in a vegetable oil, absolutes, and concretes. Typically, essential oils are highly complex mixtures of often hundreds of individual aroma compounds.

    * Agar oil, distilled from Agarwood (Aquilaria malaccensis). Highly prized for its fragrance.[1]
    * Ajwain oil, distilled from the leaves of Bishop’s weed (Carum copticum). Oil contains 35-65% thymol.[2]
    * Angelica root oil, distilled from the Angelica archangelica.[3]
    * Anise oil, from the Pimpinella anisum, rich odor of licorice, used medicinally.[4]
    * Asafoetida, used medicinally and to flavor food.
    * Balsam oil, from the Myroxylon pereirae.[5]
    * Basil oil is used in making perfumes, as well as in aromatherapy
    * Bay is used in perfumery; Aromatherapeutic for sprains, colds, flu, insomnia, rheumatism.
    * Bergamot oil, used in aromatherapy and in perfumes.
    * Black Pepper essential oil is distilled from the berries of Piper nigrum. The warm, soothing effect makes it ideal for treating muscle aches, pains and strains.
    * Buchu oil, made from the buchu shrub. Considered toxic and no longer widely used. Formerly used medicinally.
    * Birch is aromatheapeutic for gout, Rheumatism, Eczema, Ulcers.
    * Camphor is used for cold, cough, fever, rheumatism, arthritis
    * Cannabis flower essential oil, used as a flavoring in foods, primarily candy and beverages. Also used as a scent in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, and candles.[6]
    * Caraway oil, used a flavoring in foods. Also used in mouthwashes, toothpastes, etc. as a flavoring agent.[7]
    * Cardamom seed oil, used in aromatherapy and other medicinal applications. Extracted from seeds of subspecies of Zingiberaceae (ginger). Also used as a fragrance in soaps, perfumes, etc.[8]
    * Carrot seed oil (essential oil), used in aromatherapy.
    * Cedarwood oil, primarily used in perfumes and fragrances.[9]
    * Chamomile oil, There are many varieties of chamomile but only two are used in aromatherapy- Roman and German. Both have similar healing properties but German chamomile contains a higher level of azulin (an anti-inflammatory agent).
    * Calamus Root, used medicinally
    * Cinnamon oil, used for flavoring and medicinally.
    * Cistus species
    * Citronella oil, from a plant related to lemon grass is used as an insect repellent, as well as medicinally.
    * Clary Sage
    * Clove leaf oil, used as a topical anesthetic to relieve dental pain.
    * Coffee, used to flavor food.
    * Coriander
    * Costmary oil (bible leaf oil), from the Tanacetum balsamita[10][11]
    * Costus Root, used medicinally
    * Cranberry seed oil, equally high in omega-3 omega-6 fatty acids, primarily used in the cosmetic industry.
    * Cubeb, used medicinally and to flavor foods.
    * Cumin oil/Black seed oil, used as a flavor, particularly in meat products. Also used in veterinary medicine.
    * Cypress
    * Cypriol
    * Curry leaf, used medicinally and to flavor food.
    * Davana oil, from the Artemisia pallens, used as a perfume ingredient and as a germicide.[12]
    * Dill oil, chemically almost identical to caraway seed oil. High carvone content.
    * Elecampane, used medicinally.
    * Eucalyptus oil, historically used as a germicide. Commonly used in cough medicine, among other medicinal uses.[13]
    * Fennel seed oil, used medicinally, particularly for treating colic in infants.
    * Fenugreek oil, used medicinally and for cosmetics from ancient times.
    * Fir
    * Frankincense oil, used for aromatherapy and in perfumes.
    * Galangal, used medicinally and to flavor food.
    * Galbanum
    * Geranium oil, used medicinally, particularly in aromatherapy, used for hormonal imbalance, for this reason geranium is often considered to be "female" oil.
    * Ginger oil, used medicinally in many cultures.
    * Goldenrod
    * Grapefruit oil, extracted from the peel of the fruit. Used in aromatherapy. Contains 90% limonene.[14]
    * Henna oil, used medicinally.[15]
    * Helichrysum
    * Horseradish oil
    * Hyssop
    * Idaho Tansy
    * Jasmine oil, used for its flowery fragrance.
    * Juniper berry oil, used as a flavor. Also used medicinally, including traditional medicine.

Lavender oil is distilled from the lavender flower

    * Laurus nobilis
    * Lavender oil, used primarily as a fragrance. Also used medicinally.[16]
    * Ledum
    * Lemon oil, similar in fragrance to the fruit. Unlike other essential oils, lemon oil is usually cold pressed. Used medicinally, as an antiseptic, and in cosmetics.[17]
    * Lemongrass. Lemongrass is a highy fragrant grass from India. In India, it is used to help treat fevers and infections. The oil is very useful for insect repellent.
    * Lime, anti septic, anti viral, astringent, aperitif, bactericidal, disinfectant, febrifuge, haemostatic, restorative and tonic.[18]
    * Litsea cubeba oil, lemon-like scent, often used in perfumes and aromatherapy.
    * Mandarin
    * Marjoram
    * Melaleuca See Tea tree oil
    * Melissa oil (Lemon balm), sweet smelling oil used primarily medicinally, particularly in aromatherapy.
    * Mentha arvensis oil/Mint oil, used in flavoring toothpastes, mouthwashes and pharmaceuticals, as well as in aromatherapy and other medicinal applications.[19]
    * Mountain Savory
    * Mugwort oil, used in ancient times for medicinal and magical purposes. Currently considered to be a neurotoxin.[20]
    * Mustard oil (essential oil), containing a high percentage of allyl isothiocyanate or other isothiocyanates, depending on the species of mustard
    * Myrrh oil, warm, slightly musty smell. Used medicinally.
    * Myrtle
    * Neem Tree Oil
    * Neroli is produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree.
    * Nutmeg
    * Orange oil, like lemon oil, cold pressed rather than distilled. Consists of 90% d-Limonene. Used as a fragrance, in cleaning products and in flavoring foods.[21]
    * Oregano oil, contains thymol and carvacrol, making it a useful fungicide. Also used to treat digestive problems.[22]
    * Orris oil is extracted from the roots of the Florentine iris (Iris florentina) and used as a flavouring agent, in perfume, and medicinally.[23]
    * Palo Santo
    * Parsley oil, used in soaps, detergents, colognes, cosmetics and perfumes, especially men’s fragrances.[24]
    * Patchouli oil, very common ingredient in perfumes.
    * Perilla essential oil, extracted from the leaves of the perilla plant. Contains about 50-60% perillaldehyde.
    * Pennyroyal oil, highly toxic. It is abortifacient and can even in small quantities cause acute liver and lung damage.[25]
    * Peppermint oil, used in a wide variety of medicinal applications.
    * Petitgrain
    * Pine oil, used as a disinfectant, and in aromatherapy.
    * Ravensara
    * Red Cedar
    * Roman Chamomile
    * Rose oil, distilled from rose petals, Used primarily as a fragrance.
    * Rosehip oil, distilled from the seeds of the Rosa rubiginosa or Rosa mosqueta. Used medicinally.
    * Rosemary oil, distilled from the flowers of Rosmarinus officinalis. Used in aromatherapy, topically to sooth muscles, and medicinal for its antibacterial and antifungal properties.[26]
    * Rosewood oil, used primarily for skin care applications. Also used medicinally.
    * Sage oil, used medicinally.

The spice star anise is distilled to make star anise oil

    * Sandalwood oil, used primarily as a fragrance, for its pleasant, woody fragrance.[27]
    * Sassafras oil, from sassafras root bark. Used in aromatherapy, soap-making, perfumes, and the like. Formerly used as a spice, and as the primary flavoring of root beer, inter alia.
    * Savory oil, from Satureja species. Used in aromatherapy, cosmetic and soap-making applications.
    * Schisandra oil, from Schisandra chinensis, used medicinally.
    * Spearmint oil, often used in flavoring mouthwash and chewing gum, among other applications.
    * Spikenard, used medicinally.
    * Spruce
    * Star anise oil, highly fragrant oil using in cooking. Also used in perfumery and soaps, has been used in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams.[28] 90% of the world's star anise crop is used in the manufacture of Tamiflu, a drug used to treat influenza, and is hoped to be useful for avian flu
    * Tangerine
    * Tarragon oil, distilled from Artemisia dracunculus, used medicinally.
    * Tea tree oil, distilled from Melaleuca alternifolia, used medicinally. Being a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral agent, tea tree's ability to fight infection is second to none.
    * Thyme oil, used medicinally.
    * Tsuga
    * Turmeric, used medicinally and to flavor food
    * Valerian, used medicinally
    * Vetiver oil (khus oil) a thick, amber oil, primarily from India. Used as a fixative in perfumery, and in aromatherapy
    * Western red cedar
    * Wintergreen
    * Yarrow oil is used medicinally, to relieve joint pain
    * Ylang-ylang
    * Zedoary, used medicinally and to flavor food



  1. ^ a b c d Sapeika, Norman. Actions and uses of Drugs, Pub: A.A.Balkema, 1963
  2. ^ a b Thorpe's Dictionary of Applied Chemistry, Vol. 8, 4th ed. Pub: Longmans Green. 1947
  3. ^ Gilman, Alfred; Goodman, Louis Sanford (1990). Goodman and Gilman's The pharmacological basis of therapeutics. New York: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-040296-8. 
  4. ^ Klaassen, Curtis D.; Amdur, Mary O.; Casarett, Louis J.; Doull, John (1991). Casarett and Doull's toxicology: the basic science of poisons. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-105239-9. 
  5. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of ... - Google Books
  6. ^ "ISO TC 54 Business Plan — Essential oils" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-09-14.  It is unclear from the source what period of time the quoted figures include.
  7. ^ Haneke, Karen E: Turpentine [8006-64-2] Review of Toxicological Literature Pub.: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 2002
  8. ^ Watt, John Mitchell, Breyer-Brandwijk, Maria Gerdina: The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa 2nd ed Pub. E & S Livingstone 1962
  9. ^ Seenivasan Prabuseenivasan, Manickkam Jayakumar, and Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu (November 30, 2006). "In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils". BMC Complement Altern Med. 6: 39. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-39. PMID 17134518. PMC 1693916. 
  10. ^ Henley, D. V.; Lipson, N; Korach, KS; Bloch, CA (2007). "Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils". New England Journal of Medicine 356 (5): 479–85. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa064725. PMID 17267908. 
  11. ^ "Oils make male breasts develop". BBC News. 2007-02-01. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  12. ^ For example: Menary,R.C. Minimising pesticide residues in essential oils, 2008 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
  13. ^ Bischoff K, Guale F (April 1998). "Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil poisoning in three purebred cats". J. Vet. Diagn. Invest. 10 (2): 208–10. PMID 9576358. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ International Organization for Standardization. "ISO 4720:2002 Essential oils — Nomenclature". Retrieved 23 April 2009. 
  16. ^ International Organization for Standardization. "71.100.60: Essential oils". Retrieved 14 June 2009.