Why We Use Essential Oils

Essential oils (or plant essences) are highly aromatic substances made in plants by highly specialized secretory cells. Plant essences use energy obtained from sunlight, the plant then combines the chemical elements found in the air, soil and water around it, and from these atoms constructs hundreds of aromatic molecules. It is the unique combination of molecules found in each plant that gives it its therapeutic properties. It is becoming common now for many organic skincare manufacturers to isolate and use only certain constituents of essences, but these single molecules are never as effective, nor as safe used alone as they are when combined naturally as a whole essence such as in the plant. The combination of molecules of an essence act synergistically, and also prevents unwanted side effects.  We recommend using the whole essence of an essential oil, not only “parts” of it.

When essential oils are used properly, side effects are very rare, and indeed in plant medicine in general. The great majority of essential oils are non-toxic, however essential oils are very strong and need to be used with caution especially when used with babies and pregnant women. Low dilutions such as less than 1% should be used in all skincare.

Essential oils are highly complex chemically, and this complexity makes them both versatile and safe. The many constituents act together and balance each other’s effects. When two or more are mixed together, they become more than just the sum of parts, as the chemicals making up each oil recombine with each other. Combinations are sometimes more active than a single oil used on its own. In particular Lavender is known to increase the activity of other oils.

The plants from which we now derive essential oils were used for thousands of years before the technique of distilling oils was discovered. The Egyptians were using aromatics from around 3000 BC for medicinal and cosmetic purposes and to embalm their dead. The ancient Greeks acquired much of their medical knowledge from the Egyptians, as well as making further discoveries of their own, and both China and India have an ancient and unbroken tradition of herbal plant medicine. The therapeutic healing properties of essential oils have been widely known for centuries. They offer a tried and tested, gentle and safe alternative to synthetic chemicals and drugs. From earliest times parents from around the world have used herbs and plants to care for the health of their children. These days we have scientific papers to back up the empirical evidence of the healing properties in essential oils. Essential oils are natural, easily available, and they work. Essential oils have been shown to work through long term use, and through a great deal of scientific research.

The sense of smell requires the presence of an odour molecule which is registered in the brain when air is inhaled. The fragrant substances of essential oils pass onto the limbic system and reach the innermost control centres in our brain. This direct interaction with the nervous system and the brain is what gives essential oils so much of their therapeutic power, especially in the way they can affect mental activity and emotions.

One of the skins main functions is to protect against foreign substances entering the body, however, microscopic substances can be absorbed into the body through the hair follicles, sweat and sebaceous glands. The molecules of essential oils are small enough to be absorbed into the skin and once they have passed through to the dermis below, they encounter the myriad blood vessels and lymph network. They then enter the blood and lymph circulatory systems and move quickly around the body. Absorption via the skin rather than the digestive system gives the added advantage of entering the bloodstream directly, rather than being filtered through by the liver.

Essential oils can support and strengthen the immune system by either directly opposing the threatening micro-organisms in the body, or by increasing the activity of the organs and cells that fight them. Virtually every essential oil in therapeutic use is active against bacteria, and almost all of them stimulate production of white blood cells, however, Lavender and Tea Tree do this extremely well. People who use essential oils in their daily skincare, bathing and household routines should have a higher level of resistance to illness than average. They are very valuable in dealing with infections by: increasing the body’s ability to combat infection from bacteria or viruses, attacking the bacteria or viruses themselves, and preventing the spread of infection.

Being held, touched, caressed and massaged is like food for a baby. There are many benefits of massaging babies with essential oil blends: touch aids communication, development and growth, creates a stronger parent/baby bond and connection, aids circulation, frees joints and aids flexibility, cleanses the skin and removes dead cells, aids food digestion, boosts the immune system, and can help alleviate some distressing childhood symptoms, which have an impact on both the baby and the parent.

A synthetic substance is one which has been put together to from various materials to mimic another substance. Synthetic substances have no therapeutic properties at all and may produce allergic reactions. They certainly have no place in natural organic skincare. The term “fragrance” on a skincare label may contain up to 200 different chemicals, many of them suspected or known carcinogens. These chemicals can only add to the pollution of our body, as well as that of the planet.

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