What are Essential Oils?

Any essential oil is the volatile lipid (oil) soluble portion of the fluids of a plant containing odiferous compounds produced by steam distillation of vegetable plant matter. Plant matter can be any part of the botanical species including stems, branches, fruits, flowers, seeds, roots, bark, needles, leaves, etc. during the distillation process, the vapors are condensed, collected, and separated from the condensation water. The residual water, containing traces of all constituents, it's called a "floral water" or "hydrosol," and has therapeutic applications of its own.

There are exceptions to the definition of an essential oil as being a product of distillation. These exceptions are the citrus oils. These are produced by the mechanical pressing of citrus peels. Strictly speaking, a citrus oil is not an essential oil, but an "express oil." However, it is generally regarded and included as any essential oil. Because citrus oils are expressed at normal living temperatures, they contain some larger molecules than those normally found in distilled oils. Citrus oils are also free of artifacts.

Fatty vegetable oils are not essential to the plant that creates them, but are required for the continuation of the species. Such oils are not called "essential." Plants produce two types of oils:

  1. Essential oils are found throughout their stems, leaves, roots, seeds, flowers, branches, woody parts, etc.

  2. Fatty oils found only in their seeds. Fatty oils are also called vegetable, carrier, neutral, and/or base oils by aromatherapist. Nutritionists and organic chemists call them "fatty acids."

Essential oils have been called "the lifeblood of a plant." They circulate through plant tissues and past cell walls, carrying nutrition into cells and waste products out. Likewise, they can also pass through the cell membranes of human cells and repair intracellular components including the DNA. When applied to people, they carry oxygen into cells and waste products out. In fact, essential oils are one of nature's best body cleansers. They can cleanse our cellular receptor sites of pharmaceutical drugs, petrochemicals, and other disruptors of intercellular communication. They can also chelate heavy metals and other toxins, helping to remove and flush them through the liver, colon, sweat, lungs, and kidneys.

Essential oils act as plant hormones, regulating plant functions and orchestrating the production of vitamins and enzymes. They act as messengers and supervisors within the plant that help coordinate and initiate vital plant activities. Essential oils can also do the same when applied to humans. They can act as neurotransmitters, peptides, steroids, hormones, enzymes, vitamins, and other message carrying molecules.

Essential oils possess homeostatic intelligence. To say that an essential oil works towards balance and homeostasis means that the same oil can work in different directions depending on the needs of the plant or person. Oregano oil will kill hostile microbes while nurturing those that are friendly. Angelica oil can stimulate a uterus to contract or to relax depending on the need. Myrtle oil is an adaptigen that can stimulate an increase or a decrease in thyroid activity depending on a person's condition. Drugs are incapable of such intelligent discriminations and act only in preprogram directions, like robots, whether beneficial or not.