Ever had a yoga teacher spray a scented mist during your final relaxation pose? Or seen a passenger on a plane inhale from a tincture bottle? More and more people are discovering the potential benefits of essential oils—which, by the way, have been around and in use for thousands of years!
What Are They?
Essential oils are naturally occurring compounds extracted from plants that capture the plant’s scent, or “essence.” That said, essential oils are far more than a mere fragrance. In fact, hundreds of components are believed to contribute to a plant’s scent. Think of it as a giant molecule cocktail, one that has the potential to support mind and body homeostasis. Essential oils are found in nearly all botanicals, including: flowers, fruit rinds, seeds, stems, leaves, bark, wood, roots, and rhizomes (often referred to as “creeping rootstalks,” rhizomes are a plant stem that grows underground and has the ability to allow new shoots to grow upwards.) Essential oils are a primary tool in aromatherapy as well as other wellness applications.
How Are They Made?
We’ve come a long way from the days of simply throwing plant matter into a cauldron of boiling water! While the use of heat and water (in the form of steam) is still often used in the process of extracting essential oils from botanicals, technological innovations have allowed the involvement of measured pressure and careful cooling. Essential oils are liquid but in fact contain some volatile molecules. They are easily evaporated at room temperature which can be diffused through the air, as well as being fat soluble. It is important to remember that essential oils are mixtures of compounds that contain active molecules, and so the extraction process requires tremendous care and attention to detail. Therefore, particularly if you’re interested in exploring possible therapeutic applications, it’s imperative that essential oils be purchased from reputable sellers. At Forest Remedies™, we have partnered with International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) to bring you a line of quality oils that are sustainably sourced and tested by third-party labs. We use several different extraction techniques, depending on what part of the plant we are using and which extraction method is most effective. Most of our essential oils are extracted by hydro or steam distillation, by being partitioned into another liquid, or by pressing. All of our essential oils are 50 to 100 times more concentrated than they were in the plant.
Why Are They Important?
As a society, we are increasingly turning to a multi-sensory approach to health and wellness. At the same time, we are being awakened to the important role our sense of smell can play here. For their topical as well as olfactory potential, essential oils are believed to have a range of therapeutic applications. What’s more, they offer a planet-friendly alternative to many synthetic-based products.