The use of essential oils, which is derived from the pure essence of a plant, is not new. Though the term aromatherapy was coined only in the 1920s (by Gattefossé in 1928), people knew of aromatic essential oils from the beginning of time. Starting in the Scriptures to Chinese to Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Persian, Middle Eastern and Indian civilizations, each have added to the science of essential oils and to aromatics as a whole.
Research still continues in the field of aromatic essential oils, with new developments being made in the field almost every day. Aromatics and essential oils are no longer limited to cosmetic or aromatic uses only. Many of the essential oils have been proved to have medicinal and therapeutic benefits too. Take lavender oil for instance. French chemist Gattefossé would have been unaware of the properties of lavender oil to give instant relief without any scar in cases of burn, until he burnt his hand and accidentally put his hand in the jar full of the essence of lavender. Similarly, there are a large number of essential oils that have medicinal properties.
Essential oils are derived from almost every part of the plant. Leaves, stems, flowers, roots, etc are distilled through steam or water to result into essential oils. Consequently, aromatic essential oils contain the true essence of the plant. In its purest form, a few drops of essential oil can give the same results as that of the full plant if a great deal of it were used. This is because essential oils are available in concentrated form.
Though referred to as oil, essential oils in aromatics do not give that oily feeling. Most of the oils are clear and transparent.
Aromatherapy essential oils must be differentiated from the perfume or fragrance oils. While essential oils contain the purest essence of the plant, fragrance oils are made of artificially created substances as a whole or a part of it. Fragrance oils may cause allergies or other skin reactions because of the use of artificial substances.
Aromatic essential oils can be used by people either through inhalation or by applying them onto the skin in a diluted form. When essential oils are inhaled, they enter the bloodstream and lungs directly, thus producing an instant effect on the ailment.
Applying aromatherapy essential oils on the body is good for absorption. Since essential oils are available in a concentrated form, they need to be diluted using a carrier oil. Olive oil, for example, is blended with the essential oil and the mixture is used on the body or the part that is afflicted.
Though essential oils are readily available, many find it difficult to differentiate between what is considered to be good quality and poor quality essential oil. The following checklist might be helpful to all those people looking to start making use of aromatic essential oils:-
• If the bottle containing essential oils has terms such as fragrance oils, nature identical oils; they are not essential oils.
• Never buy a bottle of essential oil that seems old. It might be adulterated or just might not produce the medicinal benefits.
• A clear glass bottle of essential oils allows light to come in, thus reducing its aroma therapeutic benefits. Avoid buying essential oils that are sold in clear glass bottles.
• Essential oils sold in plastic bottles too must be avoided as it dissolves plastic and becomes contaminated for use.