The Tricky Business of Essential Oils

August 31, 2015

 

Essential Oils have gotten a bit of a bad rap.   Most people don't fully understand what they even ARE.  To be exceedingly brief, essential oils are the the distillation of compounds derived from organic materials - be they flowers, needles, twigs, roots, skin, sap, berries, seeds, or entire plants.  The method of extraction concentrates both aromatic and therapeutic components, leaving a beneficent, brilliant liquid essence.

 

The profound and often mysterious sensory thunderbolt many of us sentient beings experience when inhaling essential oils is part of what confuses us.  Wait, they smell amazing and they actually have a healthful benefit?  Seems to good to be true (it's not).  

 

Another other tricky component of essential oils is their bioavailability.  Because of their low molecular weight, they are able to readily penetrate the epidermis and therefore have high bioavailability for skin applications.  This is why infants, the elderly, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions or low immune systems should take care when using essential oils.  Unlike many chemicals with penetration enhancers, essential oils are immediately recognized as biocompatible, not a foreign substance that needs to be eradicated.  This high rate of absorption is what makes them so effective (and also medicinal).

 

Certain essential oils in particular have skin regenerating properties, making them excellent anti-aging actives.  Because they are lipophilic, they do not have a pH and therefore do not have the acidic properties of many actives. Their action is potent and effective, yet gentle and they can be used frequently.   Some of the most effective essential oils used in anti-aging regimens include helichrysum, carrot seed, rosemary verbenone, frankincense, vetiver, geranium, lavender, and sea buckthorn berry.

 

Perhaps the most tricky business of essential oils is sourcing them.  There's are some downright fakes out there - chemical compounds made in a laboratory that smell like the real thing, but lack the complex therapeutic profile that is the hallmark of these oils.  Yet you also don't have to sign on to a vertical marketing company to be assured of quality.  There are many highly respected and long standing producers and distributors around the world. In the world of botanical compounds, knowing your source is paramount.

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