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essential oils knowledge base
Essential oil knowledge base : all about essential oils
Why use essential oils?
Essential oils help address minor everyday life problems (see the symptoms list in the menu at left). Beside a curative action they also have a preventive one by stimulating the immune system so that your organism may fight more efficiently bacterial and viral infections.
Among the best known properties is the Antiseptic one. In todays world, bacterias become more and more resistant. This implies for the drug industry to come up with more and more powerful antibiotics (which in turn have an increasing adverse effect on the saprophyte flora, an important component of our immune system. In that respect, essential oils offer a true alternative toÂ antibiotics.
Their efficiency is proven to be stable over time and they keep succeeding where some antibiotics now fail.
The antiseptic benefits of plants have been known for thousands of years. Men have realized that, for example, certain aromatic plants such as thyme, savory or cinnamon were able to slow down the fermentation of food.
The antiseptic powers of essential oils are now scientifically established : a 5% thyme solution in water will destroy a streptococcus in less than 4 minutes, a staphylococcus in 4 to 8 minutes and the tuberculosis bacillus in 30 to 60 minutes.
Here are, based on their types, some of the essential oils properties that can be noted:
Analgesic (relieves pain with a sedative action on the nerves),
Antibiotic (fights internal infections),
Antidepressant (fights depression),
Antiemetic (reduces nausea and eliminates the urge to throw out),
Antiinflamatory (reduces inflammation),
Antispasmodic (prevents and cures bowels and uterus pains),
Antiperspirant (reduces perspiration),
Antitoxic (acts as an anti poison),
Antiviral (inhibits or eliminates viruses),
Aphrodisiac (increases libido),
Astringent (strengthens the cellular tissue),
Carminative (induces the expulsion of gas from the stomach and intestine),
Cholagogue (promotes the flow of bile into the intestine),
Cicatrizant (causes or promotes cicatrization),
Deodorant (masks offensive odors),
Depurative (purifies the blood),
Digestive (stimulates and eases digestion. Relieves indigestion),
Diuretic (increases the excretion of urine),
Emmenagogue (induces or hastens menstrual flow. Also called hemagogue),
Expectorant (promotes the ejection of mucus from the respiratory tract),
Febrifuge (antipyretic: reduces fever),
Fungicide (destroys or inhibits the growth of fungi),
Galactagogue (promotes the secretion and flow of milk),
Hepatic (stimulates and tonifies the liver),
Hypertensor (raises blood pressure),
Hypotensor (lowers blood pressure),
Immunostimulant (stimulates the immune system to better fight infections),
Nervine(tonifies the nervous system),
Sedative (calms and relaxes stress, reduces anxiety),
Stimulant (increases alertness and wakefulness, increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and releases adrenalin),
Stomachic (improves appetite and digestion),
Styptic (contracts the tissues or blood vessels and stops hemorrhage),
Sudorific (causes or increases sweating),
Tonic (tonifies the body or a specific organ),
Uterine (tonifies the uterus),
Vasoconstrictor (causes the contraction of small blood vessels),
Vasodilator (causes the dilatation of small blood vessels),
Vulnerary (accelerates the treating and healing of wounds).
How do essential oils work?
To have effect, essential oils must get into the organism (by absorption, rubbing, massaging, inhaling...). Then, they take advantage of the blood circulation to reach the targets to be treated. Furthermore, when diffused into the ambient air, their aromas send olfactive messages to the brain's limbic system which can stimulate "emotions." This in turn causes the limbic system to trigger the production of immunitary substances and hormones.
What do "pure" and "natural" essential oils mean?
Our essential oils are 100% pure and 100% natural as is guaranteed by lab analysis.
- 100 % pure: This means that each essential oil is extracted from a well defined and fully identified botanical variety.
- 100 % natural: This means that all essential oils only contain substances that are extracted from the plant.
All our essential oils are either "bio" or come from conventional or wild cultures.
Are essential oil mixes more efficient?
Yes. When associated (for example in a lotion), essential oils mutually reinforce their active principles. The word here is synergy.
When diffused, mixes generate unique scents (more on this). With some experience, one can create true ambience compositions!
What needs to be written on the label of an essentail oil bottle?
The geographical origin must be clearly displayed and guaranteed ;
The specy of the plant must be accurately determined. The latin denomination will avoid any confusion ;
The guarantee to purchase a 100% pure and 100% natural essential oil must be displayed unambiguously ;
When bio, an essential oil must have on its label the name of the certifying organism ;
For product tracking purposes a specific batch number must be displayed ;
An expiration date must be displayed.
How are essential oils extracted?
The best and most commonly used process for extracting essential oils is distillation: Steam, injected in a recipient containing the plant, will cause the oil to evaporate and mix with it. The mixture is then condensed by cooling which produces a two parts liquid: The pure essential oil, less dense, will stay on top while below will remain a "floral water" that can be used for other purposes. The other technique, mostly used for citrus fruit (orange, lemon...), consists in cold pressing them mechanically.
How to use essential oils?
· By diffusing them into the ambient air: Using an electrical diffuser, will emit micro particles of essential oils. On top of their healing action, diffused essential oils will eliminate unpleasant odors (from tobacco, cooking...), revive the ambient air and bring negative ions to it. Perfume burners can also be used but by over heating the essential oils they can strongly diminish the effects of their active principles. See diffusing essential oils to learn more.
· Ingestion: It is strongly recommended, whichever essential oil is concerned, not to absorb a higher dose than has been prescribed. For adults, it should never be more than 3 drops per take and never more than 3 times a day. To learn more, see "what are the dosage and duration of an essential oil treatment?" Essential oils should never be absorbed directly. Best is to pour the few drops of essential oil prescribed on a teaspoon of honey and let the mixture melt in the mouth. That mnixture can alo be dissolved in a herbal infusion or in hot (non boiling) water.
· Inhalation: This consists in inhaling, through the nose, steam that has been enriched by a few drops (not more than 10) of essential oil poured into hot water. An alternative to using an inhaler (which can be bought at the pharmacist's) is to simply lean over a bowl of hot water with a cloth over one's head to concentrate the emanation. Such inhalations should not last longer than 15 minutes.
· Bath: Essential oils are not water-soluble. They need therefore to be mixed with an emulsifier before adding them to a bath. Milk powder (2 or 3 spoonfuls), seaweed powder (1 or 2 spoonfuls), a liquid soap or a neutral shampoo (1 spoonful) or lastly, vegetal oil (1 or 2 spoonfuls) can be used as emulsifiers. Never use more than 10 drops of essential oil per bath and never stay more than 20 minutes in the bath. See the benefits of essential oils in aromatic baths to lear more.
· Rubbing/massaging: When applied directly to the skin, essential oils penetrate the cells and the whole body using the blood circulation. Choosing areas where veins are visible such as the wrist or elbow will make this process more efficient. As a general rule, it is better not to apply essential oil directly to the skin unless it has been diluted first. It is advised to mix essential oil beforehand with a vegetal oil (jojoba, macadamia, rosehip, argan, coconut, wheat germ, sweet almond, olive, apricot kernel oil...). See essential oils massage to lear more.
Warning : All the essential oil information available on our website (dosage, association, indications) has been gathered from a number of reference books on aromatherapy. They should not however be taken as a substitute to a professional medical advice and, for that matter, do not engage our responsibility.
what are the dosage and duration of an essential oil treatment?
Here is a rule of thumb to determine what dosage is appropriate:
- for an adult : 1 drop per 25 kg of body weight, 1 to 3 times a day.
- for a child : ingestion is proscribed under the age of 36 months. Over 36 months, 1 to 3 drops a day, preferably with the advice of a professional aromatherapist.
Essential oils are more efficient when the dosage and duration are right. If it doesn't have the desired effect after 5 days, best is to choose another one as generally several essential oils can address a given symptom. In this case you should continue with an essential oil that has similar properties. The effects of an esssential oil will weaken with time and can even be reversed if the dosage is too high. A professional aromatherapist may prescribe a longer treatment and a higher dosage based on how serious the illness is, how long the patient has suffered it and to reach a particular healing goal.
Concentration of essential oils for external use:
- Spray: 50 to 100 drops in 30 cl of water (shake well before using)
- Bath: 10 drops maximum (based on age) - never use pure
- Foot bath: 4 to 6 drops (based on age)
- Massaging cream: 2 to 2,5%
- Massaging oil: 2 to 10% - equivalent to 4 to 20 drops in 2 teaspoons
- Inhalation: 2 drops (based on age)
- Lotion: 1 to 1,5%
- Liniment: 3 to 5%
- Insects repellent: 2 to 2,5 % - equivalent to 4 to 5 drops in 2 teaspoons
- Shampoo and after shampoo: 20 to 30 drops for 1 glass of shampoo
Measures and correspondences :
25 drops = around 1 ml
120 drops = around 1 teaspoon or 5 ml
1 large spoonfull = around 20 ml
How to keep essential oils?
Essential oils can be kept for several years. They even have a tendency to get better over time with the exception of citrus fruit essential oils that do not last more than 2 years.
Make sure to securely recap an essential oil bottle after use to avoid evaporation. Keep the bottles upright to avoid contact with the dropper as essential oils have a corrosive effect on plastic. Store the bottles in a cool place and avoid their exposition to light.
Keep essential oil bottles out of reach of children!
What precautions should be taken when using essential oils?
Although essential oils have undeniable properties, it is prudent to use them with moderation. It is very important to scrupulously conform to the indicated dosage and means of absorption.
- Do not administer essential oils to a child under 36 months without the advice of a professional therapist.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is recommended not to use essential oils during pregnancy without the advice of a professional therapist. Some essential oils may have an abortive or milk-supressant effect.
- Never administer an essential oil with an intraveinous or intramuscular injection.
- Allergy: It is advised to perform an allergy test before using an essential oil. To do so, apply a mixture of 1 drop of essential oil with 1 drop of vegetal oil to the fold of your arm. If there is no reaction after 24 hours, it is safe for you to use it. A particular attention should be given to the following essential oils: Ceylon Nutmeg, Mint, Litsea, Melissa.
- Respiratory allergies/Asthma : In these cases, essential oils should not be used in a diffuser.
- Sun : Avoid exposure to the sun or UV rays in the hours following the application of an essential oil that has photosensitive effects (Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Bergamot, Khella).
- Always keep essential oil bottles out of the reach of children.
- Accidental absorption: Force ingestion (and, if possible, throwing up) of pure vegetal oil (1 to 3 large spoons of olive, sunflower or other oils). Never give water. Immediately call the poison center or emergency number corresponding to your area.
- Never apply pure essential oil to the eyes, the mucous membranes of the ears, nose, anus or genital parts.
- Accidental contact with the eyes: Wipe the eye with a piece of cotton soaked with pure vegetal oil or drop 1 to several drops of vegetal oil directly on the eyeball. Do not wash with water!
- Essential oils are not water-soluble. If you pour any of it in a bath it will remain on the surface and may irritate or even burn your skin. They must always be diluted first (for example in a neutral liquid soap, a vegetal oil or honey).
- Dermo caustic oils (Cinnamon, Exotic basil, Mint, Clove, Niaouli, Thyme, Pine, Sweet marjoram, Winter Savory, Lemon-grass) must always be diluted with a vegetal oil before applying them to the skin.
- A medecine doctor is irreplaceable when a serious illness or a long term absorption is concerned.
All the essential oil information available on our website (dosage, association, indications) has been gathered from a number of reference books on aromatherapy. They should not however be taken as a substitute to a professional medical advice and, for that matter, do not engage our responsibility.