Plants and trees have been around for millennia. They have the ability to protect themselves from environmental pollution, bacterial and viral invasions without having the ability to move away from them. What is the key to their immune system? It may lie in the essential oils found within their within flowers, roots, barks and seeds which are aromatic and volatile (vaporise easily). Humans too across the globe have been using essential oils medicinally for thousands of years.
Essential oils are composed of hundreds of different and unique chemical compounds. They are highly concentrated and potent . Each essential oil is composed of 200-500 different bioconstituents which make them very diverse and give them their antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal and healing properties.
The molecular structure of essential oils are so minute that they have the ability to penetrate skin and cell membranes and travel throughout the blood and tissues. The lipid soluble structure of essential oils is very similar to the make up of our cell membrane. When topically applied to the feet or soft tissue, essential oils can travel throughout the body in a matter of minutes.
The following are just a small example of some of the chemical constituents of essential oils:
Terpenes - antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti bacterial and anti viral properties
Esters - found in a large number of essential oils. They are anti-fungal, calming and relaxing.
Aldehydes - have a sedative effect on the central nervous system. They can be quite irritating when applied topically (citral being one example), but may have a profound calming effect when inhaled.
Ketones - stimulate cell regeneration, promote the formation of tissue, and liquefy mucous. They are helpful with such conditions as dry asthma, colds, flu and dry cough and are largely found in oils used for the upper respiratory system.
Alcohols - commonly recognized for their antiseptic and anti-viral activities. Phenols - responsible for the fragrance of an oil. They are antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and strongly stimulating but can also be quite caustic to the skin. They contain high levels of antioxidant properties.
It is no wonder that many prescription drugs are based on these naturally occurring compounds of plants. These compounds are often synthesised by drug companies for example thymol or eugenol. However it would be near impossible to synthesise the complete oil due to its complexity. Each oil is a complex long chain structure of hundreds of different chemicals. The saying ' the whole is greater than the sum of its parts' comes into play. Recreating one or two of the constituents in a lab does not necessarily equate to the therapeutic benefits that can result from hundreds of bioconstituents interacting with each other in the complete oil.
There is a huge market of essential oils out there and you will notice they vary greatly in pricing. It is paramount to use unadulterated essential oils; distilled correctly (at lowest temperatures) from organically grown plants. Use of herbicides creates an inferior plant and on a more risky front produce toxic compounds in the distillation process. The active properties or chemotypes found in pure essential oils are significantly higher than normal essential oils.
Some oils may have been exposed to high heat and pressure in the distillation process and this compromises their chemical structure. It requires a large volume of plant material to produce a small quantity of essential oil . Its takes 5000 pounds of rose petals to make 1kilo of rose oil so it is not uncommon for certain oils to be 'adulterated, filled, engineered or 'extended' with colourless odourless solvents such as diethylpthalate or dipropolene glycol.
There are as many sceptics about essential oils as there are believers. Whilst essential oils are certainly not a cure-all miracle, it is hard to dispute laboratory studies which indeed prove that the constituents within these super complex oils do have bacterial and viral fighting properties. The plant kingdom has stood the test of time; without doctors or medical intervention. Drug companies are constantly researching plants to find cures.There must be something in that.
We only use organic essential oils in all our formulations because we want to be sure it's 100% pure.