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What is an Essential Oil?

If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. Essential oils give plants their distinctive smells, essential oils protect plants and play a role in plant pollination. In addition to plant benefits, essential oils extracted from plants can be enjoyed for their beautiful fragrance. These are often used in beauty products and some are suitable as a food flavouring.

But what exactly is a volatile aromatic compound? In short, these compounds are small organic molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. They are called volatile because they change state quickly. When you first open a bottle of essential oil, you instantly notice that the aroma is potent and you can smell it typically even from some distance. The physical and chemical properties of the volatile aromatic compounds that compose essential oils allow them to quickly move through the air and directly interact with the olfactory sensors in the nose. Such unique properties make essential oils ideal for applications inclusion in aromatherapy – using these compounds from plants to help maintain a healthy mind and body – as well as other applications. The type of volatile aromatic compounds present in an essential oil determines both the oil’s aroma and the benefits it offers. 

 

Over 3,000 varieties of volatile aromatic compounds have been identified to date. The nature of an essential oil varies from plant to plant, within botanical families, and from species to species. The delicate ratio of aromatic constituents found in any given essential oil are what make it unique and give it specific benefits. 

 

Even with pure essential oils the composition of the oil can vary depending on the time of day, season, geographic location, method and duration of distillation, year grown, and the weather, making every step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the essential oil product. 

 

Essential oils can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used as single essential oils or in complex essential oil blends depending on user experience and desired benefit.

Why dōTERRA?

When you choose doTERRA, you are choosing essential oils gently and carefully distilled from plants that have been patiently harvested at the perfect moment by experienced growers from around the world for ideal extract composition and efficacy. 

Each doTERRA essential oil is also carefully and thoroughly tested.

While there is a science to the distillation of essential oils, it is also an art. Distillers not only rely on years of experience, they also employ modern technologies and techniques. 

The most common method of extracting essential oils is a low-heat steam distillation process. In this process, pressurized steam is circulated through plant material. The essential oils are liberated from the plant and carried away by the steam. When the steam cools, the water and oils separate and the oil is collected. To ensure the highest quality oil extract with the correct chemical composition, the temperature and pressure must be closely monitored. Too little heat or pressure and the oil will not release; too much, and the oil’s composition and potency will be affected. 

 

Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is the most common way to extract aromatic compounds (essential oil) from a plant. During the steam distillation process, steam passes through the plant material. The combination of heated steam and gentle pressure causes the essential oil to be released from microscopic protective sacs. As the vapor mixture flows through a condenser and cools, it yields a layer of oil and a layer of water. The essential oil rises to the top and is separated from the hydrosol (floral water) and collected.

Some have asked about the difference between first distillations in comparison to complete distillations. The temperature for steam distilling is usually between 60 - 100 degrees Celcius. Since different plants require different pressures, times, and temperatures, using this particular distillation method makes it possible to adjust the temperature based on the plant type, making it a very effective and precise way to obtain the purest compounds. 

Expression

Unlike steam distillation, expression, sometimes referred to as “cold pressed,” does not involve heat. In this process, oil is extracted from the product under mechanical pressure. doTERRA uses expression to extract all of its citrus oils, such as Wild Orange, Lemon, Lime, Bergamot, and Grapefruit, from the rind.

Proper distillation requires a consideration for the uniqueness of pressure, temperature, time, and harvesting practices, each of which may be as diverse as the plants themselves. A poor distillation process can alter or destroy the necessary aromatic compounds that comprise the essential oil, leaving a substance far different from the intended goal and something that would not be used to by doTERRA as it does not meet our chemical composition requirements. For this reason, the best distillation artisans dedicate their efforts and work to only a few select plants. This focused effort develops proper knowledge and experience, helping ensure congruency between the oil chemistry of the plant and its distilled form.

How Do I Use Essential Oils Safely?

Traditionally, certain essential oil application methods have been preferred or used exclusively. However, as the research surrounding essential oils continues to develop, a greater understanding of application methods is now understood. Essential oils are usually delivered by one of three methods: aromatically, applied topically to the skin, or added to flavour food. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends.

Aromatic

 

The sense of smell is a tool that can elicit powerful responses. Smell can affect emotions, behaviour, and memory. For this reason, essential oils can be quite powerful.

Some essential oils induce uplifting or invigorating effects, while others are more calming. Diffusion is one of the simplest methods for using essential oils aromatically. Diffusers that use cold air or water are ideal. However, using essential oils aromatically does not require any special diffusing devices.

You can achieve the same benefits by simply placing a few drops of essential oils in the palm of your hand, bring to your nose and inhale.

Additional aromatic uses For Essential Oils Include:

  • Apply oil to a cotton ball and place in the air vents of your vehicle

  • Mix oils in a spray bottle with water and mist over furniture, carpet, or linens

  • Add oil to a batch of laundry or to dryer sheets

  • Use in household surface cleaners

 

Topical

 

Topical application is a very effective method for applying essential oils. Because essential oils have low molecular weights and are lipid soluble, they can stay on your skin.

To decrease the likelihood of developing a skin sensitivity, especially for sensitive skin, it is advisable to use a carrier oil (such as Fractionated Coconut Oil) to dilute oils and when trying an oil for the first time. The recommend dilution ratio is typically one drop of essential oil to three drops of carrier oil.

 

It’s always advisable to use several small doses throughout the day rather than a single large dose. Start with the lowest possible dose (1–2 drops). A topical dose can be repeated a couple of times a day. Because every individual is unique, the dose can vary between individuals based on size, age, and overall health status.

Beneficial Areas You Can Apply Essential Oils

  • Neck

  • Forehead and temples

  • Chest and abdomen

  • Arms, legs, bottom of feet

Other Effective Methods of Topical Application 

  • Add a few drops of oil to a warm bath

  • Make a hot or cold compress by soaking a towel or cloth in water, adding essential oils, and then applying to the desired area

  • Add oil to a lotion or moisturiser and then apply to skin

Sensitive Areas to be Avoided:

  • Some facial areas, such as the skin around the eyes

  • Eyes and inner ears

  • Broken, damaged, or otherwise injured skin

 

Always look at the product label or Product Information Page (PIP) on the website for how each essential oil can be used.

 

Food Flavour*

 

Certain flavours have a rich culinary history and some essential oils can be used as food flavours. When you sip a mug of peppermint tea, or add fresh herbs to your pasta, you are actually consuming some aromatic essential oil compounds. These uses are safe when oils are used in appropriate quantities, in accordance with product labels.

Essential oils contribute many flavouring and aromatic properties to foods. However when used for food flavourings, essential oils should be added in very limited amounts due to their concentration and potency.

Essential oils are highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way. It is recommended that 1-2 drops is ideal to flavour food.

doTERRA essential oils for food flavouring meet the requirements of the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code for food additives.

 

Effective Ways to Flavour Food 

  • Use oils in recipes for cooking or baking to replace fresh or dried herbs and spices

  • Remember that essential oils are much more potent than dried or fresh herbs and spices, so start with a very small amount

  • For more potent oils, it may be better to add these by toothpicks (dip the end of a clean toothpick into the oil and then add to the food) rather than drops

  • Add essential oils to water, smoothies, milk, tea, or other drinks

  • Add a small amount of food flavour to yoghurt

*Oils for food flavouring meet the needs of the Australia and New Zealand food standards code for food additives.

Always look at the product label or Product Information Page (PIP) on the website for how each essential oil can be used.

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