Essential oils are the aromatic fragrant portions of plants that have therapeutic properties.
They are produced by plants to protect them from disease, deterring hungry insects, and attracting pollinators. These essences are non-water soluble, volatile compounds found in flowers, leaves, branches, seeds, roots, barks, resins, and fruit peel. For example, rose oil is extracted from the petals, cinnamon extracted from the bark of the tree, eucalyptus from the
leaves, and lemon from the peel of the fruit. There is a difference between a plant extract and essential oil. Our industry uses plant extracts all the time for their benefits such as lemon extract for its astringent properties and citric acid which may be used as an AHA or a preservative. These extracts are different to essential oils. Apart from smelling pleasant and giving sensory gratification, essential oils offer highly therapeutic benefits and have the ability to create positive changes and responses in both physical and emotional aspects of the body.
Each essential oil has a unique variety of chemical constituents such as ketones, alcohols, terpenes, and esters which provide multiple benefits and properties. Lavender for example has anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and relaxing benefits to name a few.
As well as inhaling essential oils another method of transporting essential oils into the body is via the skin. We know that the skin provides us with a protective barrier that keeps us waterproof, prevents harmful micro-organisms from invasion, and keeps most chemicals out.
However, advances in technology now show us certain ingredients and drugs do actually penetrate that stratum corneum barrier.