As a child, I loved going the park. One of my mom’s favorite activities was to pick some pine needles from the pine tree, break it in half, and smell its aroma. I liked it too; it was very pleasant and relaxing. That aroma is the essential oil of the plant. It is found on the surface of the plant, or inside the plant material. My favorite essential oils are lavender, peppermint, and orange, and its usage was very beneficial for me.
The process of extracting essential oils is by water or steam distillation, or even cold-pressing. Pure essential oils are those that are not obtained by chemical processes. Some oils are isolated by maceration. The plant material is softened in warm water, which releases the essential oil. Several factors influence the quality of essential oils, such as; the weather, geographical location, and distillation.
Essential oils are widely used for aromatic and medicinal purposes. You will notice that when you open a bottle, the scent quickly fills the room, and the aroma is potent. These are due to chemical properties in the essential oil that allow it to move rapidly in the air. That is why essential oils are ideal for physical and emotional wellness.
Essential for Your Health?
Inhaling the aromas can stimulate the limbic system; it involves our emotions, behaviors, smell, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and long-term memory. Have you ever associated a smell with a memory? This explains why certain smells can trigger memories.
Cosmetic Aromatherapy – Used for cleansing, moisturizing, drying, and toning on the skin, body, face, and air. It is also beneficial to use in a full-body or foot bath.
Massage Aromatherapy – Essential oils are combined with carrier oils to use for massage.
Medical Aromatherapy – Used to promote and treat clinically diagnosed medical ailments, and even for massage on patients during surgery.
Olfactory Aromatherapy – Inhaling essential oils can enhance emotional well-being, encouraging relaxation and calmness.
Psycho-aromatherapy – Since our brain links scents with memories, essential oils can help promote a pleasant memory by infusing it in the room of the patient.
Choosing the Correct Essential Oils
It is important to make sure that the essential oils you purchase are pure and medical grade. Many companies will claim this, but there are ways to determine its true nature. Here are three things to consider:
Purity – Oils that provide mild fragrance or flavors do not have therapeutic benefits like essential oils. Find retailers that specialize in selling essential oils.
Quality – Look for essential oils that identify with their scientific or botanical name. It is also important to note the extraction process, plant origin, and expiration date. As much as possible, use oils that are organic (no pesticides or sprays)
Reputation – Companies should be transparent about their essential oil products, have done extensive testing on the product, and are able to answer questions relating to it. Another bonus is when companies are members of associations or other affiliations that have ethical standards.
Current Market Trends
In 2016, the global essential oils market size was valued at USD 6.63 billion (2). “It is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 11% during period 2017-202 (3)1.”
This is due to a growing demand for product line extensions, air fresheners with essential oils as the active ingredient, natural personal care products and cleaning products, spa and relaxation, and flavors in pharmaceutical ingredients. Growing consumer income and more knowledge on personal health are expected to contribute to the growth of this industry.
Orange oil had the highest demand in 2015. “Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing regional market.”
Essential Oil Safety
As with many things that we ingest in or apply to our bodies, moderation and correct application are key. It is also important to do a test patch before applying it in the desired area of the body. Essential oils are considered safe. It should not be ingested but can be used topically when diluted with a carrier oil, through steam inhalation, and in an essential oil diffuser. Essential oils are very concentrated, so a little goes a long way.