Essential oils have complex molecular structures and incorporate a range of components including hydrocarbons, ketones, acids and alcohol. Each oil is constructed in a naturally unique way, giving it an individual characteristic in both the therapeutic and olfactory. It is for this reason, it is always recommended to use 100% natural oils. Although synthetic oils can offer a similar scent, their composition and quality is at best only ever a small percentage of that of the oil produced by nature.
The Extraction of Oil
Derived from a variety of plants and more specifically a variety of plant parts, essential oil can be extracted from roots, leaves, flowers, and even vegetables. Certain plants can even produce a selection of different oils from their different parts. The bitter orange tree, for example, produces extractable oil from its leaves (petitgrain), its flowers (orange absolute) and its fruit peel (bitter orange).
Steam distillation is the most common method of extraction and involves passing steam through the plant material under pressure. This releases the essential oil as a vapor which condenses as it cools. The oil is then separated from any remaining impurities including water.
To extract citrus oils, a different technique is necessary – expression. To release the oils from the glands of citrus fruit peel it must be squeezed free following separation from the fruit pulp and pith. Once performed by hand, this process has now become mechanized.
Other methods of extraction include the complex chemical solvent extraction and the traditional maceration (soaking in vegetable oil) and enfleurage (using purified animal fats).
Well extracted essential oil is used in several beauty products like Amanda Jo Organic Bunny and it offers great results to users.
Since primitive times, it has been known that certain plants have medicinal properties. Today, pharmaceutical companies invest millions of dollars researching ways to reproduce the wide range of health benefits provided by these natural resources. Aspirin, for example, was originally derived from the willow tree, painkillers morphine and codeine originated with the opium poppy, and the contraceptive pill can even be traced back to Mexican yams.
There are more than 150 essential oils used in aromatherapy, ranging from basil to ylang ylang. Each oil has its own medicinal and wellbeing benefits. The scent of these oils alone can often be enough to produce a healing response, however oils with antiseptic properties are better utilized by direct application to wounds. Similarly, oils that work on pain or stress are more effective when massaged into the body in conjunction with inhalation.
Although effective on their own, essential oils are routinely blended with one another to amplify health benefits. The enhancement of the anti-inflammatory qualities of chamomile essential oil when combined with lavender essential oil is an example of this.