Jennie asked me to write a blog post on Essential oils and I am thrilled to share with you some of the hundreds of hours of research that I have done.  I am going to spread it out over a couple of posts as it is huge topic to cover in one post. 

I am currently finishing my certification in Holistic Nutrition and a year ago, when asked to attend a seminar on Gut Health and essential oils and Emotional health, I was intrigued.  My quest for understanding what essential oils were has led me to embrace them whole heartedly. Who knew how versatile and helpful a small bottle of plant oils could be? I was in for a whole paradigm shift in my thinking about essential oils.   They are not just a nice aroma!  My first experience with essential oils was having an Aroma touch massage where several, carefully chosen oils are used along the spinal column.  It was an experience that everyone should have. I literally sunk into the massage table, the most relaxing and restorative massage ever.  Essential oils have become an integral part of my health care!  

So let me begin with answering some basic questions. 

 What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the volatile (they easily evaporate) natural, aromatic compounds found in plant parts such as seeds, bark, leaves, stem, roots, flowers, fruit, or rind, in the case of citrus oils.  These oils are 50-70 times more potent than dried herbs. When we peel an orange, what is the first thing we notice?  When we rub the flowers from lavender between our fingers or walk through a rose garden, what do we experience?  We are enjoying the fragrance of essential oils of the plants. These oils are the life blood of the plant serving to protect it from environmental assaults, disease and predators.  
This is a  picture is of a peppermint  leaf magnified to show the essential oil droplets.

Oils are extracted through either steam distillation or cold pressed in the case of citrus oils, which are derived from the rind portion of the fruit. 

How are they used?

Topically: applied directly on the skin either with or without carrier oil which aids in the oils absorption and application.  Typical carrier oils would be coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, etc. 

Aromatic inhalation: involves inhaling either a fine mist of the oil through the use of a diffuser. (Note: never heat your essential oils in a candle type of diffuser as this will change the constituents of the oil and degrade it.) This is a powerful method to affect emotions through the olfactory system stimulating memory, hormones and emotions. Also great to clear the air of microbes and bacteria. I always have my diffuser going with different oils depending on if I am studying, relaxing, having company over or sleeping. 

You can also place a drop on the palm of your hands, cup your hands over your mouth and nose and inhale. Quick and effective way to relieve sinus congestion, clear bronchial tubes and lungs or banish a headache.

Internal Use: Essential oils can also be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. Citrus oils have powerful antioxidant properties while others help support healthy inflammatory response in cells. Many essential oils are generally regarded as being safe for dietary use, but some oils should not be taken internally. Do not use any essential oil product internally that does not have the appropriate dietary supplement facts on its label.

How do Essential oils work?

Being the life blood of the plant they carry regenerating, oxygenating, and immune strengthening properties of plants. Their molecular structure is so small that they can easily penetrate the skin. (Applying to the bottoms of your feet is a great way to use them as your feet have large pores and readily absorb the oils.) They are lipid soluble meaning they are able to penetrate cell membranes even if the cell wall is diseased and hardened due to oxygen deficiency.  Essential oils can affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes of application and are subsequently metabolized like other nutrients. 

Essential oils help transport oxygen carrying molecules throughout the body aiding in the transport of nutrients to our cells.  They are extremely powerful antioxidants which we know are essential in cleaning up free radicals aiding in the prevention of cellular damage -- the pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases.  Antioxidants can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. 

Are all essential oils the same?  Are there different qualities that we should be aware of?

Your nose will immediately tell you that there is a vast difference in the quality of essential oils.  These are potent products and to produce high quality oils you have to pay attention to a number of details such as the sourcing of raw materials and the testing methods that ensure the oil you purchase is certified pure, therapeutic grade, with no artificial fillers, synthetic additives as well as tested to be free of contaminants such as pesticides or other chemical residues. 

This certification is not government controlled so it’s buyers beware.  Ensure what you buy is validated, meaning that they've passed extensive 3rd party testing for quality, purity, and usability. “Therapeutic grade” means that an essential oil has been carefully distilled to retain the maximum amount of constituents that have therapeutic effects.  Although there is no agency that oversees the quality of essential oils, 'therapeutic grade' is recognized as a standard that should be upheld by the essential oil industry to ensure you get the maximum benefits possible from the oils you purchase.  If you purchase essential oils from say your local health food store, you have no idea what you are getting and could do yourself more harm than good.  If you see Frankincense for $25.00 a bottle you can be sure it is not pure and has little to no therapeutic benefits, has possible fillers, contamination and synthetic ingredients.  Don’t buy from any company until you have done your research or only purchase from someone who sells pure therapeutic grade essential oils. 

Why would I want to use essential oils?

Over 250,000 Americans die each year from pharmaceutical drugs. Drugs and oils work in opposite ways. Drugs toxify. Oils detoxify. Drugs clog and confuse receptor sites. Oils clean receptor sites. Drugs depress the immune system. Oils strengthen the immune system. Antibiotics attack bacteria indiscriminately, killing both the good and the bad. Oils attack only the harmful bacteria, allowing our body’s friendly flora to flourish.

There is a risk of side effects every time you take a prescription drug. No one expects these medications to kill them, but it happens far more often than you might think! On the other hand, natural molecules, such as those found in essential oils, are easily metabolized by the body. In fact, your body was created to handle them. When an essential oil molecule finds the receptor sites it was designed to fit and conveys its information to the cell, or participates in other therapeutic functions, it then goes on its way to the liver and the kidneys and moves out of the body. Its benefits have been conveyed and its job is complete.

By contrast, the unnatural molecules of man-made drugs attach themselves to various tissues, disrupting normal function for years while the body tries to figure out what to do with them. Meanwhile, they wreak havoc with our bodily functions and even our minds.

Essential oil chemistry is so complex, the microorganisms can’t develop resistance to them by mutating – there are too many different chemical factors to overcome.

Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, states in his book Advanced Aromatherapy, The Science of Essential Oils, that “essential oils have a 95% success potential against infections. A century of research and evaluation has confirmed that essential oils are effective antimicrobial agents and they don’t have the side effects that accompany antibiotics. This is not surprising given the fact that antibiotics have weakened our immune systems producing resistant germs. Even conventional medicine readily admits that we have created a nightmare by overusing antibiotics. Frequent use causes microorganisms to build up a resistance to the antibiotics.” 

Currently the scientific community is exploding with studies on the efficiency of essential oils. From the National Cancer Institute, “numerous studies on the topical antibacterial effects of essential oils have been published; most have found the oils to have significant antimicrobial activity.[1] Some essential oils are antiviral and inhibit replication of the herpes simplex virus.[2] Other essential oils are fungistatic and fungicidal against both vaginal and oropharyngeal Candida albicans.[3]

“Frankincense essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins induces human pancreatic cancer cell death in cultures and in a xenograft murine model. (”

What are you currently using for colds, flu, headaches, viral infections, psoriasis, acne, fungal infections, ear infections, tooth pain, burns, cuts, bruises, viral infections, herpes, cold sores, migraines, heart burn, indigestion, bloating,  sore muscles, fatigue etc ?   Essential oils are antibacterial, anticancer,  antifungal, anti infectious, antimicrobial, antitumor, antiparasitic, antiviral and antiseptic.  This video link is from one of my favorite science guys, Dr. Greger.    Paste the link into your browser to watch.
 In the words of Thomas Edison, “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” Plants are medicine; whether we eat them or distill essential oils from them to use, they support our body’s natural inclination toward health and vitality. 

Next time I will look at some specific Essential oils and their properties and uses.  In the mean time take control of your health, you only have one body, treat it well! 

Hi, my name is Cathy Morgan. I am from Sherbrooke, Quebec and have been friends with Jennie's Mom and family for many years. I have lots of fond memories of my four kids playing at their family  farm and spending time at the renowned "cottage".  I moved to Campbell River, on beautiful Vancouver Island, in 2011 and promptly fell in love with the ocean and the mountains. 

I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from McGill University and am currently finishing my studies at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Nanaimo, BC. Upon completion of my board exams I will have the certification of a “Registered Holistic Nutritionist” or R.H.N.  I have also received training in Reflexology using essential oils and will be doing my AromaTouch Certification training in November. The AromaTouch Technique was developed by Dr. David K. Hill, a leading expert on the use of essential oils for medicinal benefit.
I hope you enjoy my posts and begin to understand how you can use essential oils to benefit yours and your family's health. Feel free to send me an email if you would like further information. 

Blessings and good health!