“Healing begins with an aromatic bath and daily massage”
Hippocrates – 460 BC – 370 BC
René-Maurice Gattefossé (1881-1950) a French Chemical Engineer from Lyon is considered the founding father of aromatherapy. He first introduced the word ‘Aromatherapy‘ and he created the ‘Therapeutic Applications of of Essential Oils‘.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic compounds derived from plants.
Essential oils are true and undiluted essenses; they are extracted generally by steam distillation directly from flowers (rose), fruits (lemon) leaves (peppermint), bark (cinnamon), roots (horseradish), spices (cloves), tree blossoms (Ylan Ylang) and gums (frankincense).
Characteristics of Essential Oils
A typical essential oil is a complex mixture of over 100 chemical compounds. The tiny molecular structure of the components of an essential oil makes it extremely concentrated. Their lipid solubility along with their very small size makes them easily penetrate the body through the skin.
Essential oils are usually clear, pale yellow or yellow liquids although a few are solid or semi-solid (camphor). An example of a deep colored essential oil is the blue German chamomille.
Storage of Essential Oils
Essential oils must be stored in dark tightly closed bottles away from sources of heat because they are susceptible to degradation by the following factors:
- Oxygen: oxidation is a process that can change the chemical composition of the essential oil when oxygen combines with some of the components
- Heat: it can speed up oxydation
- Light: it can speed up oxydation
Quality of Essential Oils Essential oils used for medicinal purposes should not be contaminated with pesticides or other chemicals and they should never be adulterated with other essential oils or synthetic compounds because both contamination and adulteration increase toxicity.
It is therfore very important to buy essential oils from a reputable source with stringent quality control testing.