What are essential oils and how do we procure them?
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile chemical compounds from plants.
Hydrophobic means they don’t mix with water.
Volatile means that they are evaporated easily at normal temperatures.
Simplified: essential oils are the “life blood” of a plant. They can be found in a plant’s flower, stem, leaves, bark or fruit and they protect plants from disease and provide nutrients.
They’ve been used for thousands of years to support physical and emotional wellbeing, supplement diets, enhance mental aptitude and facilitate worship.
They are most commonly extracted through steam distillation but can also be extracted through resin tapping or cold pressing.
Essential oils are made up of various components commonly referred to as “constituents”, each of which has its own unique characteristics.
Your body has millions of receptors that bind to these constituents, communicate with your brain and then signal a response in your body.
These signals can go to your muscles, organs, or—in the case of your olfactory (sense of smell) receptors—the amygdala in your brain, which is part of the limbic system and is involved in such functions as emotion, memory, focus and mood.
The type of constituent determines the response your body has.
For example, beta-caryophyllene is a key constituent of copaiba essential oil. Beta-caryophyllene is recognised for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and it’s the reason copaiba is recommended for use in managing discomfort, swelling and bruising.
Botanicals have been used for health and healing by cultures all over the world for millenia. Why would we suddenly stop using them?