What are Essential Oils?

Sharon Brown

If you are new to the world of Essential Oils this would be your first question and it is one, I am asked frequently.

When I was in my early 20’s I became fascinated with how plants could be used to alleviate so many different ailments, physical and emotional. I loved the history of how the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Indigenous medicine and healing women/men would use plants to heal and treat their people; plant medicine goes way back to the beginning of civilisation. Many of the modern medication came about from plants, for example aspirin contains the property of salicylate which is derived from the white willow bark.

The use of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy became very popular during the late 1800’s when the Gattefosse family, who were made up of chemists and botanists researched and wrote about the many healing properties of plants and began distilling the essential oils, which they are still doing to this day! It was Rene Maurice Gattefosse who first coined the word ‘Aromatherapy’ and is considered the father of aromatherapy.

Essentially (pun intended) Essential Oils is the pure essence of certain parts of plants, the most common parts are from the stem, flower, leaves, bark, gum, resin and rind; nature’s elixir, if you like and is in its very concentrated form.

There are also different methods of extracting the precious oil, depending on the type of plant and part used; the most common ways are steam distillation and cold pressed.

The quality of the essential oil depends greatly on the climate, country grown in, the soil, plant, the environmental conditions and that it is pure. One batch to another may vary ever so slightly in aroma and colour as a result of changes in any of these conditions. 

Each of the different varieties of Essential Oils has many Actions and Properties, such as anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, analgesic, antidepressant, carminative, decongestant, etc. (the list is exceptionally long).

Today the use of Essential Oils is massively popular and is being used all around the globe by millions of people.