PS – for Safety info please scroll down to the bottom of this article.
I have chatted recently about a few different reasons why I LOVE essential oils… I thought it might be good to write about the basics behind what makes them so AHMAYZING so that
1 – I can refer back to it in new posts and
2 – you have a better understanding about why and how Essential oils work…
This may need a second and possibly third ‘chapter’ so stay tuned for that.
As a qualified Clinical Aromatherapist I am not only passionate about the power of essential oils – I believe that essential oils alone can provide us with everything we need to replenish and heal our skin, energise and calm our minds as well as nourish and fuel the fire in our soul…
You have probably all heard something about them at some point – things like Lavender can help you sleep or Orange oil is great for cleaning but the truth of the matter is that the power of these naturally found wonders are limitless.
I thought it was ‘pardon the pun’ essential that we chat a little bit more about them so you can get a bit more of an insight into what makes them so AH-MAY-ZING!
So what are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the highly concentrated, aromatic plant essences that can be derived from just about any part of a plant including the flowers, flowering tops, leaves, stalks, fruit rinds, seeds, saps, nuts, bark, roots, resin and berries. The oils give a plant its scent and are essential to its biological processes. In some cases several different oils can be derived from just one plant. The orange tree for example, gives us Neroli from the flowers, Petitgrain from the leaves and Orange from the fruit. Each of these oils has its own distinct personality and therapeutic properties.
Holistic Aromatherapy recognises that all of the natural, biological components of essential oils work in synergy to produce their therapeutic qualities. Essential oils used in aromatherapy must be 100% pure and natural meaning that there must be no synthetic materials added to the oil. Most essential oils produced throughout the world today are used by the food flavouring, perfume and pharmaceutical industries. These essential oils are pure and natural, but have been purified by further distillation and during this process some of the minor chemical constituents are discarded.
Why are some more expensive than others?
Some essential oils are expensive to produce because of the quality of plant material required to extract the oil for example;
100 kgs of eucalyptus leaves produces approximately 10 litres of essential oil.
100 kgs of lavender flowers produces approximately 3 litres of essential oil
100 kgs of rose petals produces approximately 100 millilitres of essential oil.
Rose is one of the most expensive essential oils it takes between 30 and 40 roses to produce just one single drop of rose essential oil (OMG!) which obviously makes it prohibitively expensive for most people. This is why people manufacture synthetic versions of oils which have none of the therapeutic properties OR you can buy it from us as 3% of pure rose essential oil in a jojoba base and reap all the rewards of the properties of the heart warming oil..
How do essential oils get into the body?
Essential oils are absorbed into the limbic system of the body through the olfactory bulb and cilia at the top of the nose.
When we have the recollection of a memory based on a smell or scent this happens because of the Olfactory bulb as it is responsible for transmitting messages from our nose to our brain. For example whenever I smell jasmine I am taken back to my Oma’s house because her front stairs up to the house had a wall of jasmine flowers lining them… It is such a lovely feeling to go back there…
It can of course have the opposite effect too – Like when I smell bourbon… I think you can probably guess why I am no longer a fan of this smell but the science behind the recollection of a memory based on smell all starts here!
When you are surrounded by a scent, your nose can become saturated to the point where you can no longer consciously smell it. Its like when you apply your own perfume and after half and hour you cant smell it anymore so you put on a little more and then a little more and you end up walking around in a cloud of perfume!
With aromatherapy the same thing happens but even though you are no longer consciously aware of the aroma, it is still having an influence on you. When you use a vaporiser for example, after a while you will not consciously be aware of the smell in the room until you leave and re-enter but the oil is still working.
We notice this ALL the time at our workshop – every time someone new walks in they go crazy about how amazing it smells and the girls and I can no longer smell anything – which is a tad annoying in that case!
This is just the tip of the essential oil iceberg… we will continue with this over the next few months so that you understand what makes Bubbles tick because without essential oils – we just wouldn’t be the same!
Before we go – Ill throw in a few safety guidelines for any of you who are new to oils or would like to feel like you understand that part of it a bit more because even though there is ZERO need for being in fear of them – they truly are powerful and do deserve our utmost respect.
DO NOT INGEST ESSENTIAL OILS EVER. This trend is what we as aromatherapy diploma students were advised so strongly against that I am not sure how this has even become something we consider safe on any level. There are Aromatherapy doctors who can recommend this plus who also use oils intravenously but they are DOCTORS and they are trained to know all of the contraindications to look out for and what the exact dilutions for every oil are. This is not for us to try out at home. Full stop.
ALWAYS use a carrier oil when putting oils onto your skin. Your little bottle of oil contains PURE essentail oil. This MUST be diluted using some kind of oil base or what we call a ‘carrier oil’. Good options are Jojoba, fractionated coconut, olive, almond and any other plant based natural oil you might have. The only essential oils I would recommend using directly onto the skin for home use are Tea tree and Lavender. Tea Tree is great when used on a cotton tip for pimples and this is probably the only time I would suggest using it without a carrier and then with Lavender – you can use Lavender directly (and by directly I mean without a base or carrier) on burns and some abrasions. It might sting on an open cut so go slowly and start with a very small amount. With a burn adding pure Lavender (ONLY) essential oil is the first thing I do – even before water… Then I add water and I take Mulla Mulla Bushflower essence. Its a proven winning combo.
When diluting your essential oil into a carrier oil it is said that the safe ratio is 1 drop of essential oil to 5 drops of carrier but I find that really difficult to work out because carrier oils generally pump or pour. The exact ratio’s I learned in my diploma were this;
Face blends 1-1.5% essential oil into carrier oil
Body blends 3% essential oil into carrier oil
Babies and elderly 1% essential oil in all blends.
As clinical therapists we can use much more potent blends than this BUT for home and especially skin care use these are the guidelines.
I prefer to work with a 3 drop rule as far as single use dilution goes ie pop your carrier oil into your palm for whatever you are using it for – if its cleansing you would use about a 20c piece ish amount – add 3 drops of essential oil and rub hands together to blend. Less is more. These babies know what they need to do and as soon as they enter your bloodstream they will go to work.. You do not need to use extra to get extra. It just doesn’t work that way. I feel completely at ease to suggest 3 drops into the amount of carrier you use for most face routine skin practices.
Be super careful when decanting oils from your bottle as some flow out VERY easily while others take their sweet time. Don’t assume all are slow. Assume its going to be fast and then be patient if its not.
If you accidentally put way too many drops into your carrier – add more carrier and pop it into a glass jar to use at another time.
Oh and always store your oils out of direct sunlight – it decreases their shelf life and potency.
Ill add to this in the next post if I think of anything else super important I need to add.
If you follow our instructions and act with intention and care – you will be fine. I have made a thousand mistakes with them over the years and usually I just smell really full on for a next however long – nothing terrible has happened except for skin peeling a few times but I know what I am doing and I was purposefully stretching the boundaries with my very sensitive skin.
The only place I go to when I want information on essential oils is the Tisserand Institute which is the teachings my professor learned from, who she taught us from and still teaches from today. You can read over their page on safety information here.
If you want any more information or have any questions you need answered you can book a FREE 15 minute chat with us by clicking here.