Therapeutic Essential Oils are often thought of as Aromatherapy oils. However, they can be used in many other ways. In addition, there are many types and prices. What makes them different is explained below.
Methods of Application
There are three trains of thought in applying essential oils. These stem from traditional European methods. All three are valuable healing methods.
- The English method involves massage therapy. An essential oil is diluted in a carrier or base oil and applied to the skin. This method is easily absorbed into the bloodstream for faster physiological effects.
- The French method involves the NEAT method, which is ingesting or applying an essential oil without diluting it with a base or carrier oil. This method is very controversial. About 90% of the time, it is recommended that this method not be used. HOWEVER, this method is perfectly safe “IF” the oil is PURE 100% THERAPEUTIC. How can you tell? The answer lies in how the herbs are grown and how they are processed, which will be explained below.
- The German method is based on inhalation. This method directly affects the lymbic system centered in the brain, which is closely associated with the emotions and hormonal balance. Diffusion is the favored method of applying essential oils.
Grades of Oils
There are essential oils and then there are essential oils! Just as with any product, cheap is cheap for a reason.
What makes a therapeutic oil different from other essential oils is based on two things: how a plant is grown and, how it is processed. These two differences alone will determine the strength of the healing properties found in that essential oil.
Therapeutic essential oils are pure, undiluted, unadulterated, and free of contaminants. This starts with the plant itself. A plant must be grown in the most pristine conditions possible. If an herb (or any food for that matter) is grown in soil that is chemically fertilized or if the plant is sprayed with chemicals, the result is a weak plant. Weak plants have little healing value.
However, if plants are grown organically, that is, in healthy soil without benefit of chemical additives of any kind, then the plant will develop its own strong immune system. This can be passed on for human benefits IF the plant is then processed without destroying the healing substances it contains.
Steam distillation is most commonly used. But there are variations within that process that can enhance or destroy the quality of an oil. This will depend on the temperature used and the pressure levels. Some companies will steam distill, all right, but they may use high heat and/or high pressure to extract the properties. Sometimes subjecting those plants to repeat extractions and then mixing the results.
Many delicate properties found in plants will be destroyed using either of these methods. Yes, a label may say “100% pure” or “steam distilled”, but is it therapeutic? Therefore, it is imperative that herbs should be steam distilled using low temperatures and low pressures.
Distillation processing should be located near the growing fields so that the plants do not deteriorate during transport. Healthy, strong plants produce a higher quality of healing oil and thus a higher market price.
Caution in Buying Essential Oils
If you are buying essential oils for the cost factor alone, think again after reading the above.
If your brand does not tell you where the herbs were grown or how your oil was processed (other than steam distillation), then I would strongly advise you not to waste your money until you find out.
Young Living Oils can trace all their plants back to particular growing fields, and they are forthcoming about how their oils are processed.
Pam Duff, RN, CSNC