A Brief History on Essential Oils
Essential oils are celebrities in the world of Ayurvedic medicine. Initially considered as an herbal medicine, it has a lot of uses for relieving aches and helping alleviate some symptoms of diseases and illnesses. Treasured for their wide range of uses and high efficiency – these oils are the favorite amongst royalty.
Essential oils are quite popular during the ancient Egyptian civilization. It doesn’t only have a medicinal use. Even embalming deads make use of organic oils, which is a famous practice in the Egyptian culture. Plus Cleopatra, our symbol of beauty and power, uses oils for aromatherapy and for her beauty routines.
A Treasure in the Field of Medicine
The past shows just how valuable essential oils are in the field of medicine. As the holy grail both in the worlds of beauty and health, it continues to take over the market and shelves in your bathroom. There will always be a need for such products.
Because these oils are taken from organic ingredients, they always contain vitamins, minerals, and other natural compounds that are good for the body. One of the issues that technology poses nowadays is that we’ve become too dependent on chemicals. Research also shows that traditional medicine such as herbs is better compared to products that have chemicals in them.
The earliest record of producing essential oils is written by Ibn al-Baitar, a physician, and botanist. His mention of essential oil details about the methods used in its production. Thing is, he lived during 1197-1248 AD. But that is not to say that essential oils are only discovered by then, essential oils guide shows how long it’s been used in history.
The known founder of essential oils is Avicenna, a notable polymath who made great contributions during the Islamic Golden Age. He was the one who invented steam distillation. He used it to produce various essential oils like rose oil. It became the foundation of aromatherapy which spread around the world then.
A Beauty Weapon Molded by Time
The healing effects are not the only reason why essential oils are such a popular product. They even have great results when utilized for beauty care. Imagine royal families keeping the wonderful benefits of such oils for themselves.
Here are some uses of essential oils for cosmetics throughout the history.
One of the most common uses of these oils is to create perfumes. There’s a high demand for soothing and appealing fragrances back then especially in Egypt and Europe during medieval times.
Essential oils for perfumery and aromatherapy are two different things. Perfumes are used to dispel any bad odor and to wear a layer of soothing scent on the body. The latter, on the other hand, has uses for healing the body and mind. It has effects on the health that perfumes don’t have.
Cleopatra’s quite famous for her beauty and the recipes that she used. She utilized the healing and beautifying effects of essential oils to achieve the natural golden glow of her skin. But it’s not the only record of natural oils being used for skin care. There are also other cultures that valued natural oils due to their benefits in skin health.
History painted essential oils as hair care heroes. It moisturizes the strands to give them a healthy shine while also strengthening the strands to help it withstand damages. Coconut oil is one of the most popular essential oils used for the hair throughout the history.
- Ingredient for Beauty Recipes
The versatility of these oils makes them perfect for recipes you can whip up at home. This is how you make beauty formulas back then. When lipsticks, foundations, and blushes are not readily made, essential oils had a big part in making beautifying products.
Diversity of Essential Oils
Essential oils have a wide assortment that you can choose from. The differences are the ingredient used, the method of extraction and the final product. These oils have unique characteristics that set them apart from others. They also have different effects on the body. Here are some of the things you need to know about when it comes to the various kinds of essential oils.
Essential Oils by Ingredients
You can choose from a wide selection of natural oils according to their ingredients. These ingredients are the key factor in the effects that they have for whatever purpose you’re going to use them for. Because almost every part of these organic ingredients has natural compounds that are good for the body and mind, there are all types of oils to use for your needs. Find some of them here.
This kind of oil comes from the leaves. They contain natural compounds such as vitamins and minerals that prove to have wonderful effects when used on the body, skin, or hair. They are also second only to flower essential oils when it comes to aromatherapy.
When it comes to aromatherapy, flower essential oils truly rule over all others making it the best option for soothing fragrances. Since flowers are popular for their distinct scents, they are the most common ingredients used to produce oils that are meant for aromatherapy. Of course, it doesn’t mean that they are the best choice for you.
Seeds have concentrated vitamins, minerals, and nourishing substances that prove to be wonderful for the skin, hair, and body. These oils have therapeutic effects that are also quite unique to them. You might be familiar with some of the popular seed oils such as Argan oil and castor oil. One of the common methods used to produce them is cold-pressing.
Roots have high amounts of minerals that the oil also gets to keep. It has more healing and therapeutic effects than beautifying results when used.
Believe it or not, there are wood essential oils that are popularly used nowadays. Cedarwood essential oil is a great example of this. This type of oil has great aromas making them perfect for relaxation, or in therapy. Aside from that, they are also safe to use on skin.
The most popular bark essential oil is cinnamon oil. It has a rich aroma that is perfect for relaxation. Cinnamon oil is a popular type of bark essential oil. It does not only have its healing effects but it also gives a soothing sensation and fragrance when applied on the body.
Even the peels of the fruits you’ve been eating contain a lot of nourishing compounds that are perfect for the body. Some of the famous kinds of this oil include orange, lime, and bergamot. They are notable for their distinct scents used for perfumes.
This type of essential oil is different from other oils. It uses the whole fruit, including the pulp, seed, and peel. Juniper berry oil is a great example of berry essential oil. The fruit is dried before the oil is extracted. Juniper berry oil, like most berry essential oils, has great benefits for body and skin. Berry essential oils have unique scents used for aromatherapy too.
Resins are transparent viscous plant secretions that have colors ranging from yellow to brown. The thick secretions from plants and trees are used to produce essential or carrier oil. Frankincense oil and Myrrh oil are popular examples of resin oils. These two oils have therapeutic effects used for traditional medicine. They are mixed with other essential oils as well to create a soothing blend for aromatherapy.
Rhizome is a type of a plant that has horizontal stem found underground. This long stem grows roots and shoots. The whole plant or just the stem may be used to produce rhizome essential oil. Rhizome oils that are safe to ingest such as ginger oil have therapeutic effects that help alleviate health concerns. Ginger oil can soothe an upset stomach and reduce symptoms of respiratory problems.
Extraction Methods Used
Depending on which ingredient you’re going to use, the methods of extraction also differ. For example, oils taken from nuts or seeds go through cold-pressing since it is the most suitable method for this type of raw material. Here are the three procedures you should know about.
There are two types of expression, one is mechanical, and the other is through cold pressing. For the mechanical procedure, there are various ways that it can be done. But cold-press is still the more popular option.
This method is most suitable for seeds and nuts. There are no other substances needed for this method. You just take the seeds, crush them, and press until the oils or the essences are squeezed out. It ensures that it still contains the natural compounds present in the raw material.
This method also guarantees that the oil manages to keep the healthy substances that make it suitable for skin, hair, and body care. Cold pressed oils also tend to have the distinct smell of the ingredients. In this case, since seeds are some of the most common materials used, these oils have an earthy or nutty scent.
Mechanical expression includes three methods that make use of machines to bring out the essence of the ingredients. These procedures are more popularly used in citrus oils or essences taken from peels. While mechanical expression does not impair the natural state of the oils, the producers can still add them to the final product. This is how they dilute or damage the purity of the oils. Here are the three methods of mechanical expression.
Just like the name of this method, a sponge is used to collect the oil taken from the rind of citrus fruits. Sponges are not for extraction but for simply soaking up the essence from the peels. You can still squeeze out the oils by using your hands or using a machine. Once heavy with oil, it is squeezed out and transferred into another clean container.
- Écuelle à Piquer Extraction
This name means a basin, and to stick or prick, which is a modern method used to produce oil from citrus peels or the fruit itself. It requires a device that has spikes all around or on the sides and a container at the bottom.
To do this, put the fruit in the machine and rotate it to help puncture the cells of the skin which contains oils and other essences. It is not only the oil that gets collected but also the pigment. It then all drips or runs down into the bottom of the device which is holding a container.
The extract contains both liquid and the oil. The mixture goes under another method where the liquid is removed from the oil and transferred into another container.
Another way to produce citrus essential oils is through this method. It also uses another machine called a centrifugal separator. It first removes the outer layer of the peel and does this with running water. It finally goes to the centrifugal separator. The motion of the separator is very fast in order to extract the oil from the fruit.
Your favorite essential oils probably went through distillation. As the most common way of extraction, a lot of popular oils in the market make use of this method. It does not only ensure that the end product still contains the natural compounds but it also keeps it pure and organic.
The Science of Distillation
The whole process is easy to understand. Basically, the steam helps vaporize the natural compounds of the raw material. The vapor condenses and goes through the tube. It collects at the other vessel where the essence and oil are. Here’s a step-by-step process for steam distillation:
- You need an alembic to distill some oil. This instrument has a tube that connects the two vessels. One vessel contains the ingredients. This vessel is on top of heated water.
- Since glass makes up most of the alembic, it makes it easier for the steam to take form inside. It helps vaporize the compounds of the raw material.
- The steam or vapor then passes through a coil where it turns back into a liquid through condensation.
- The condensation collects into another vessel and this forms the essences of the ingredients.
- Distillation yields an essence and an oil. The oil contains nutrients and other substances found in the ingredient. The essence, or the herbal distillate, often contains the scent of the raw material.
Producing the oil using this method makes use of the solubility of the compounds. It is not made through taking or extracting the oil but more of separating compounds of the raw material that don’t mix together. For essential oils, it is often the watery essence and the oil separated.
The different types of rose oil may go through different extraction methods. There’s steam distillation and also solvent extraction. The idea is to derive the oil or essence of the ingredient. It is best to use this method of extraction to prevent damaging the ingredients. Heat can alter the compounds and substances found in botanical ingredients as well. Here’s how it works:
- A solvent is crucial in this method. A common type of solvent for producing essential oils is hexane.
- Hydrophobic solvents produce extracts called concretes. They often contain essential oil, resins, waxes, or other substances that dissolve in oil. This final product is often very aromatic.
- To take the fragrant oil from the concrete, using ethyl alcohol is a common method. It is easy to remove by putting the solution to evaporation or vacuum purge. This produces an absolute.
- Another solvent used is supercritical carbon dioxide which yields a better product. It has a lot of benefits since it helps keep the natural compounds of the raw material and also avoids producing that much residue.1
- It goes through two processes where the first essence contains both the waxes and the oils. The next procedure separates the two just by lowering the heat.
- This method is the best choice if you want to prevent the compounds from decomposing. There is also no residue of the solvent since it evaporates and turns to gas after.
Holistic Wellness: Essential Oils for Daily Life
Essential oils are a big part of our lives. There are a lot of uses for these oils in our daily activities. They are not only good for cooking but they also have other healing effects that are perfect for the body and mind. Find out more about the uses of essential oils in here.
Oils have a natural fragrant scent that has different effects for the user. Some oil can help you regain focus while boosting your ability to pay attention. Some oils have appealing notes in their fragrance that helps reinforce positivity in the mood and mental wellness.
Rose oil is probably the most famous kind of aromatherapy oil there is. There have been reports of its effects when it comes to soothing signs of anxiety, stress, and depression. It stimulates the mind to produce positive thoughts.
Ways You Can Use Oils for Aromatherapy
Imagination is the middle name of essential oils. You can use it for a lot of other ways and not just stick to one method. Since they are versatile, they work just as fine when mixed with other ingredients or formulas. Here are some tips on how to utilize oils for aromatherapy.
- Putting oils in the diffuser is the most common method of aromatherapy. You can also put them on a burner but that’s the old-fashioned way.
- Scented candles often contain essential oils put into the waxes before they solidify. You can always try making one at home. Light a candle and the scent will waft up to your nose.
- Put a few drops of your favorite scented oil on your pillow or linens. The fragrance lasts longer and you can enjoy it for a better sleep.
- Directly smelling the oil is another way to do this. This is the perfect method when it comes to regaining focus or awakening the senses.
- For those who have trouble falling asleep, applying the oil to various parts of the body such as the soles of the feet or at the temples is also another option.
Oils are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nourishing substances that are good for the body. Drinking safe and non-toxic oils is alright as long as you follow the right directions. They improve the body from the inside and even have therapeutic effects that help heal some conditions you might be suffering from. But there are also risks that you expose yourself to when you drink oils. Here are some of the risks when you ingest or drink essential oils.
Risks of Ingesting Essential Oils
Some oils are relatively safe to drink or ingest. But it does not mean that you should do so carelessly. There are always precautionary measures you should remember when it comes to drinking these oils.
- There are oils that are toxic to the body. They can either induce extremely negative reactions or even cause death. Make sure to ingest only non-toxic oils.
- Using oils during pregnancy or nursing phase is not safe. This even works with topical oils. Since their effects might be too harsh for the body, to be on the safe side of things, avoid essential oils except for aromatherapy.
- Undiluted oils can trigger simple damages such as mouth sores to extreme allergic reactions that happen from inside the body. They are potentially deadly.
- Some oils have high photosensitivity. It can lower their shelf life and also alter their chemical composition. Storing them in places directly exposed to sunlight can make the oils unsafe for ingestion.
- Make sure to read labels on the bottle of your oil and do your research. You will know whether the product has toxic ingredients in its formula. And always be cautious when drinking or ingesting oils.
- Do not ingest cosmetics essential oils. Made for application on skin, hair, or beautification, they do not necessarily contain nourishing substances that are good for the body.
Our favorite oils are mostly for topical application. Castor oil, rose oil, Argan oil, coconut oil, and other multi-tasking organic extracts have wide benefits for skin and hair. The mineral-rich oils make up for the lack of nutrients that the skin and your tresses need. To fully bring out the full effects of these oils, you need to practice safety measures and the proper way of application.
Safety Measures of Topical Application
It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry. When it comes to applying essential oils for skin and hair, here are some of the reminders that you need to put into practice.
- Always dilute essential oils before applying them. Some of these oils have high concentrations – meaning, they might be too harsh for you. If the oils come undiluted, use carrier oils or lightweight extracts and mix them together before use.
- Only apply oils the proper way. The methods used in applying the oils also affect the results that they have whether it’s for skin, hair, or any part of the body. Read the label before using the oil.
- Use in the right amount, avoid applying too much or too little. Not applying enough oil does not produce great results. But when you use too much, they can be risky.
- Some oils are photosensitive. Make sure not to prolong your stay under the sun to prevent damages.
- Go for the purely organic oils. Some oils contain chemicals and other fillers. And you know what they say about chemicals – they’re bad for you. There’s always some kind of setback when you use products that contain toxic and harmful ingredients. You know well enough not to become addicted to these goods. While they can be effective for an instant, they are harming your body in the long run.
- Look for an essential oils brand with an established reputation. You can make sure that they take your wellbeing into account by reading some customer reviews on their products.
Live a healthy and natural life by utilizing essential oils for your daily life. Take a page out of a professional’s manual and go for organic products and brands that make your life healthier and more fun!