What is an essential oil?

Posted by in Self-Care



If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a peppermint leaf or the zest of an orange  you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils protect plants and play a role in plant pollination.

These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the different parts of plants: seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, leaves, fruits.  

These constituents can be affected by a vast number of variables which then influence the quality, purity and potency of essential oils  extracted: soil condition, climate, type of fertilizer, geographic region, altitude, harvesting season, time of day and method, and distillation process.  This is what distinguishes therapeutic grade oils from others. After harvest, plants are placed in a large container. They are gently and skillfully steamed and the aromatic oils are liberated with the steam. As the mixtures cools, separation occurs and the oil is extracted from the water. Essential oils should be unadulterated which means not altered in any way.  Nothing should be removed or added to them: it is best to keep them as Nature intended.     


There are many uses to essential oils! Because each essential oil is made of a great number of constituents, they have multiple functions. This is why the same oil that can help you support your immune system can be used to support your liver, clean your windows and remove grease!

What is really amazing is to think about how potent they are: 50 to 70 times more potent than herbs! So even though this is all natural, a little goes a long way. If you think that one drop of peppermint essential oil is the equivalent of 28 cups of peppermint tea, you understand that more is not always better.  

Their shelf life is also longer than most products. Historically a lot of cultures enjoyed using essential oils for their spiritual rituals and for aesthetics purposes. Egyptians paved the way to Greeks and other cultures.  Essential oils had a practical and medicinal value to the Egyptians. Because of their valuable properties, many essential oils were used in embalming practices. Oils were also buried with the body so the spirits in the afterlife could enjoy their perfumes and medicines. Different types of bottles were found in tombs that contained the remnants of essential oils that still had their scent as well as their healing qualities.

Effectiveness is something that most of us nowadays can wish for. Essential oils’  chemical constituents are absorbed in the body within 20 minutes  of application. This is why repetition is key when it comes to using essential oils. No need for massive doses.

Aroma: One of my favorite pleasant benefits is this one: they smell amazingly good! Of course there are always some that have a stronger scent but in general they have an attractive aroma. If you haven’t realized yet, the sense of smell plays an important role in our lives. The aroma can trigger memories and play a role in emotions and mood.This  is why the diffuser is used daily in our housesometimes more than once a day. Everyone coming into our house for the first time says: It smells so good in here!
There are more benefit to them and we will explore more as we go along with this series of posts. Next week is all about safety. The do’s and don’ts will be explained to you. Leave your questions and comments below and I will be glad to connect with you!