AN INTRODUCTION TO ESSENTIAL OILS
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are volatile components, made of complex chemical compounds derived from the raw material of a plant that has therapeutic properties. Essential oils are extracted from various parts and varieties of trees, plants, herbs, flowers, roots, fruits, and grass.They are obtained by different extraction methods. Two popular techniques are steam distillation and cold pressing, where the essential oil is physically separated from the water.
The nature of an essential oil varies per plant and species. An essential oil contains about 100 chemical components, which gives it complexity and unique benefits. There are approximately 300 different types of essential oils on the market. Their versatility allows for a wide range of uses and therapeutic purposes (with common sense and care, ofcourse). Essential oils can be applied by inhaling through the nose or mouth, rubbing on the skin, or in certain cases, by ingesting. Even though essential oils have many benefits, we must be aware of their positive and negative impact on our ecosystem and environment. The right knowledge allows us to use them more consciously and dispose of them responsibly.
Why do plants have essential oils?
Essential oils are not just beneficial for humans; they also play many roles in the organization of plants. As per the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), the volatile aromatic compound found in essential oils is a way for plants to communicate with each other, and is used in a variety of ways:
To attract pollinators: As plants are not mobile, these aromatic compounds attract pollinators that then pass the genes on to the next generation of plants.
To repel predators: Essential oils defend the plant from predators, emitting toxic aromas that causes a predator to experience sickness or death when they eat that certain plant.
To warn other plants: Essential oils also warn other plants about territorial rights. This means that not all plants will grow beside each other. Plants choose what species they allow to grow by their side or if only one species can be present. Using ultrasonic sounds, fungi networks and airborne chemical compounds, plants send off warnings to each other.
To heal plants: Lastly, volatile aromatic compounds are also used to heal the plants. Needless to say, without essential oils, there would be no plants at all.
The New Old
Essential oils have been around forever. Ancient civilizations used essential oils as a means of aromatherapy and their healing powers have been employed for centuries. Many communities used essential oils for spiritual or holistic practices.
Nowadays, essential oils can be found everywhere, In the food industry, they are used to give natural flavours and aromas to things like chewing gum, food items and soft drinks. The skincare and perfume industries embrace the beautiful properties of essential oils as their main selling point, while pharmaceutical companies rely on their medicinal properties.
Unfortunately, many essential oils have commonly been replaced by synthetic and harmful ingredients. But as we rediscover their power, essential oils are slowly returning in their natural forms. Today, we are coming back to the basics: using essential oils in our homes and many other areas in our lives. Aromatherapy is now a worldwide movement, as we come to realize the amazing impact of essential oils on our lifestyle and well-being.
An Important Note of Quality
When purchasing essential oils, it is useful to be aware of the elements that affect their composition and quality. Since essential oils are products of nature, a lot of factors play into the production process. This includes the plant species, origin, soil quality, climate, harvesting methods, season, extraction techniques, as well as the bottling and storage process.
With many different essential oils and brands to choose from, it is important to note that the quality of essential oils varies widely. With a lack of regulations and industry standards, many essential oils on the market today are not a 100% pure or therapeutic grade. When purchasing pure, unadulterated essential oils, you must consider the following:
Essential oils should be slowly distilled using a low temperature in order to protect its essence.
Harvesters also need to pay attention to picking the species at the right time, day, and season.
Plants should be selected from the same geographical location and harvest.
The final product should be unaltered, with no additional substances added.
You should be able to get information about the product, and the Analysis Reports should be available to you.
While more and more brands claim to make "pure" essential oils at low costs, this often also results in lower quality. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Low prices are made possible by the following practices:
Using dried plants instead of freshly harvested ones. This weakens its therapeutic properties.
Treating plants with synthetic fertilizer or chemical pesticides. This alters the plant's material and drastically changes its healing properties.
Adulteration of essential oils is a serious issue, making the essential oil less effective and potentially dangerous to use. Sometimes inexpensive essential oils are combined and fraudulently marketed as a more costly oil, or expensive essential oils are diluted with cheaper ingredients. Alteration is especially common for expensive oils that are difficult to extract, like melissa, frankincense or rose essential oils.
This is why it is very important to do your research and ensure transparency throughout every step of the supply chain. A company should be able to answer all your questions and provide test results. Unless you buy an essential oil that specifically states that the manufacturer complies with the regulations, you will unfortunately never know what is truly in the bottle.
Why choose Love and Lemons?
You can count on Love and Lemons to deliver essential oils that are 100% natural, pure and complete. It is our first priority to ensure the essential oils we produce are of high quality and safe for you to use. We describe our essential oils as:
Our essential oils do not contain any synthetic additives, petrol-based diluents, and are not mixed with cheaper or similar smelling essential oils. Our oils reflect the composition of the plants, as listed on the labels. Every step of the production process can affect the overall quality of the essential oil product. We ensure that plants are harvested at a precise timing to ensure premium properties. You should note that the composition of essential oil can vary depending on various factors, such as the time of day, season, weather, year of growth, geographic location and method and duration of distillation.
Love and Lemons essential oils are made directly from the source using respectful farming practices. We care about organic farming, fair trade practices and the environment. Our essential oils are sourced around the world and Quebec, Canada; where we work directly with our partners producers. We ensure that the distillation process is done very carefully and respectfully. Our essential oils are tested to regulate their premium quality. Each essential oil is bottled with care to ensure that no outside sources compromise its magnificent essence.
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Schnaubelt, Kurt. The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils
Schnaubelt, Kurt. Medical Aromatherapy
Schnaubelt, Kurt. Advanced Aromatherapy
Beverley Hawkins.West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy
Valerie Ann Worwood. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
Julia Lawless. The Encyclopedia of Essential oils
San Juan National Forest Services