Essential Oil Advanced Knowledge

Table of Contents

Improve your Essential Oil Knowledge

 

 

 

When embarking on any topic, the first point of departure is to get your definitions right–to make sure you and your audience are on the same page as to what the terms you will use mean.  Here, I wish to employ that method of clarifying a definition as a means of presenting the basic elements of essential oils.

My handy-dandy definition of essential oils is thusly:

Essential oils are

① lipid soluble compounds, which are

② natural-occurring (extracted or distilled from plants),

③ therapeutic (have a physical benefit to wellness),

④ volatile (easily evaporate at room temperature),

⑤ aromatic (having a pleasant and distinctive smell), and

⑥ concentrated (a single drop can have profound affect).

DEFINITIONS

LIPID
COMPOUNDS
NATURAL-OCCURRING
THERAPEUTIC
VOLATILE
AROMATIC
CONCENTRATED
AFFORDABILITY
MOLECULAR CONCENTRATION

THERAPEUTIC BENEFIT

A drop on the bottom of your foot can be detected in  your blood stream in less than 30 seconds.  Because essential oils have a very tiny molecular weight and size, they are easily absorbed through the skin.
They take seconds to enter the body.
They can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours to be fully absorbed into all the cells of the body.
They take about 3 to 6 hours to be expelled or metabolized in a normal healthy body, and up to 12 to 14 hours for an unhealthy or obese body.

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It’s like having a Christmas Tree in a bottle.

 

Testing, testing,… pure.

An important characteristic of a good essential oils is that the oil is pure.

PURITY

Purity comes through how the essential oil is produced, starting with the plant itself, the extraction process, then culminating in the bottling process.  Purity can be monitored by thorough testing.  Without rigorous testing, there is no way to achieve purity–because you would be flying blind.  There are too many factors.  There are so many ways that you can get it wrong, and only one way to get it right, every time.  Testing is your guide to achieve pure.

WHAT’S PURE?

First, what does a pure essential oil mean?  Pure means it is free from fillers, pesticides, solvents, and additives.  It also means that it contains only essential oils produced by the plant it purport to be from, and that the compounds are in the right ratios and percentages.  Pure means it is what you want it to be.  It is what you need it to be.

To put it simply:

  • Purity means (1) free from fillers, pesticides, solvents, and additives; and (2) is natural (not synthetic).
  • Impure means there is either (1) other stuff in there or (2) it is not the way nature made it.

WHY PURE?

If an essential oils is pure, you are more likely to get the therapeutic value you are seeking (assuming the oil has been properly obtained from a therapeutic source).

If the essential oils is not pure, you may not receive the therapeutic benefit you desire.  Moreover, if the oil is not pure (whether produced synthetically in a lab or carelessly stripped from contaminated plants), it may even be potentially toxic.

Thus Purity is very important to justify the very purpose of having an essential oil.

WHY TESTING?

Testing DOES NOT MAKE IT PURE.  It detects it, so we can reject the impure.

Producers can monitor and thereby ensure purity through consistent and sophisticated testing.  Testing can detect many impurities:
1) Harmful traces of ingredients
2) Chiral oriented constituents
3) Constituent percentage range
4) Adulteration

These are all problems that come with making (or adulterating) essential oils in a laboratory.

THE PROBLEM WITH SYNTHETICALLY PRODUCED ESSENTIAL OILS

TRACE INGREDIENTS
Here is an example of an essential oil compound produced in a lab:

Methyl Salicylate is one of the main active constituents found in Wintergreen essential oils.  This compound is commonly synthetically produced and added to muscle rubs.  However, when producing this compound in a laboratory, it is impossible to produce an end product that does not have trace amounts of the ingredients used to make the product.  Here is a very simplistic representation of the formula to make Methyl Salicylate.

Phenol(Strong Acid)+Carbon dioxide(poisonous)+sodium hydroxide(Very Caustic)+hydrosulfuric acid(Very Dangerous)+methanol(Poisonous) = > Methyl salicylate (with trace poisons and acids)

As these chemicals are mixed together in order, trace amounts of the ingredients remain in the final solution.  There may also be assisting catalysts or solvents.  Many of these ingredients are so dangerous, the scientists mixing the solutions must wear protective clothing and work under a fume hood.

These compounds are very inexpensive to produce in a laboratory.  Sometimes they are cheaper to produce than water.  Thus synthetically produced essential oil compounds are very widely used in the market today.  But they are impure because of the small trace elements, which will always be present when making the constituent in a laboratory.

Nature uses a different method.

Nature produces essential oils on a cellular level through DNA instructions with the assistance of proteins.  Although the end molecule is in most cases exactly the same, there are no traces of harmful chemical solvents or caustic acids.​​

CHIRALITY

Regardless of the harmful trace ingredients, most of the time the molecule produced in a lab is exactly the same as the molecule produced by nature.  There are sometimes a difference, however.
As it turns out many molecules (not all) have a left and a right-hand orientation.  This is called Chirality – non-superimposable mirror images.  It is similar to your right and left hands, they are mirror images that cannot be superimposed on each other.

The interesting thing is that if we synthetically produce the molecules in the lab, we get an exactly even left-hand right-hand orientation mix.  Nature, however, only produces one orientation.

This is important because the differently oriented molecule may often have different characteristics or traits.  This can lead the synthetically produced solution of essential oil particles to be less therapeutic.  In some cases the opposing molecule orientation may be harmful or counter effective or even dangerous.

​​

 

CHEMICAL CONSTITUENT PERCENTAGE RANGE

Yet another problem with synthetically producing essential oils in a lab.  You only make one constituent at a time.  A nature-produced essential oil has anywhere from 30 to 300 essential oil compounds in the solution.

It may be true that just a few of these seem to provide the bulk of the therapeutic benefit, but the natural combination of all the constituents has proven over and over again to have superior therapeutic results.

Scientists have tried for years to select one compound from an essential oil, and just produce that compound in hopes to capture the therapeutic benefit without all the other “junk” nature has thrown in there.

However, it has been shown over and over that the minor compounds interact with the main compounds to produce a more complete result.  The “junk” was actually working – nature was producing it for a reason.  That is, when the essential oil has just the right amount of each constituent, it works much better – provides a higher therapeutic result.

ADULTERATION

Essential oils produced by nature may also become impure.  There are many reasons for this.

  • Enterprising essential oil companies may seek to change, enhance, or substitute an essential oil by adding an essential oil from another (albeit similar).  For example Cassia is an essential oil very similar in aroma and therapeutic qualities to Cinnamon.  Testing from trained scientists have discovered that some companies are replacing or “spiking” their Cinnamon essential oil with Cassia.
  • Another way essential oils can be adulterated is through the use of pesticides or plant contaminants.  These pesticides find their way into the essential oil, and contaminate the oil with potentially harmful chemicals.
    Cheap producers use additives and fillers to thin out or somehow change an essential oil sample.  This may lower the cost of the essential oil, but it also decreases the therapeutic value.
  • Sometimes a cheap way to extract essential oils is through the use of solvents.  However, these solvents end up in the essential oil solution and ultimately on or in the bodies of the end user.

Essential oil tests can be carried out by trained scientists can detect these adulterations.

TESTING

Here are just a few of the tests that can be performed on essential oils:

  • Core Tests
    • Organoleptic-sensory evaluation
    • Specific gravity
    • Refractive index
    • Optical rotation
    • Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS)
    • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIS)
    • Isotope Carbon 14
    • Heavy Metals / Pesticides
    • TPC/Microbial
  • Additional Testing
    • Stability Testing
    • Biochemical Pairing
    • Taxonomy
    • VOC
    • Thin Layer Chrom
    • LC/LCMS

ORGANOLEPTIC OR SENSORY EVALUATION

The first method of testing is very simple and doesn’t require any equipment—although training and experience improves the test.

It is simply using your raw senses.  And many people do this naturally.  For instance, when people smell Lavender, they can tell right away whether it is likely good quality or pure.  How an essential oil smells, the feel of it, it’s thickness, the color or look of it, and if it is safe for tasting, the taste of it.

This method of testing seems obvious, but it is a simple first step, and sometimes it can quickly detect if something is wrong.  More testing is necessary, but this is a noteable starting point for any scientist.

SPECIFIC GRAVITY

Specific Gravity is the density of a substance (that is how much mass is contained in a fixed volume).  This is measured at a specific temperature and atmospheric pressure.

The specific gravity of water is 1.0 g/ml.
Oil is usually less than this and floats.

Not all, however.  Clove, Wintergreen, and Cinnamon sink depending on their quality.

This test can easily detect when something is not right about the sample.

REFRACTIVE INDEX

As light passes through a substance, it slows down.  The ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum compared to the speed of light as it passes through a substance is the refractive index.

This ratio is responsible for light seeming to bend as it passes through water, glass, or a lens.

Each substance will have a different ratio.

When this ratio is compared with historical records of good samples, those administering the test can determine whether something is impure and has been adulterated.

OPTIC ROTATION

Optic rotation merely sends polarized light through a substance and then measures how that light rotates.

Polarized light means light waves that oscillate in a synchronized direction.

When this direction or angle changes as light passes through a substance, we can learn things about the molecular makeup of the substance.

Important here is we can detect the chirality of molecules in an essential oil solution.  Chirality means whether the molecule is in left-hand or right-hand version.  Nature curiously only produces one orientation, so this test can inform scientists whether the molecule was made by nature or man, or whether it has been changed in any way.

GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY MASS SPECTROMETRY (GCMS)

Source: M odern E ssentials Book

The Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) is the test most relied upon by essential oil scientists.  It gives scientists so much information.

It works by injecting the essential oil sample into the apparatus where it is vaporized and propelled through a tube, which separates compounds based on volatility.  As these groups of compounds pass through electric and magnetic fields the specific compounds are measured in terms of mass and quantity.

A typical graph is produced, which tells the scientists how many molecules of a specific mass are found in the sample.

Can you see how super helpful this is to scientists to see how pure the substance is?

Impurities can be detected and measured.

The quantity of each type of molecule is measured.

This test can also detect the ratio of a certain molecules compared to others in the sample, which gives us clues as to the therapeutic benefit we can expect from that sample.  This ratio can also tell us if the essential oil is pure.  Typically an essential oil will contain a certain ratio of a particular molecule found in that essential oil.  When a molecule is discovered outside this ratio, it is a sign that something is wrong and the sample is impure, contaminated, or adulterated.

For example: the ratio of terpinen-4-ol found in Melaleuca is normally between 30% and 55%.  If it is not, the abnormal is an indicator that something is wrong, that the sample is impure.

FOURIER TRANSFORM INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY (FTIS)

The Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIS) is another test that projects light through a substance.  It gives data like a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) test.

It works by projecting Infrared light through the substance.  This test can detect the characteristics of the bonds between the different atoms in the sample.  It does this by measuring patterns in what infrared radiation is absorbed by the sample and what passes through.

With computer analysis, this test can detect the types of and quantity of molecules present in the sample, and their chirality.

This test substantiates what scientist learn from other tests and can help give a better picture of the quality of the essential oil as it actually is.

CARBON 14

Carbon 14 is regularly used to date an object.  The theory is that the different levels of Carbon 14 an object has is an indicator of when the object was alive.  Synthetically produced essential oil compounds use carbon from sources that are sometimes very old, and this test will illustrate that.  This is an indication that the essential oil is likely synthetically produced from carbon found in mineral sources or fossil fuels.

HEAVY METALS/ PESTICIDES

Simple tests can be done to determine whether the sample contains heavy metals or pesticides.

TCP/MICROBIAL

Samples should also be tested before and after bottling to ensure they are safe from microbes.

CONCLUSION

This science behind the purity label is what gives me confidence in the essential oils that I choose to use.  I will only use the best, most pure essential oils produced by nature in the form nature intended.

Click here to find out what brand of essential oil I use:  http://www.benjadejoy.life/how-do-i-get-those-amazing-oils

There are more tests that can be performed, but these are the main ones and they will give you an idea or the rigor a quality essential oil company will go through to ensure that essential oils are produced in the most pure form.

To sum up Testing and Purity, think about the reason you want to use essential oils.  You want them to make you well (to provide a therapeutic benefit).

It is very important that your essential oils are pure because purity helps make them safe to use.  And in some cases, it also means they will work.

But purity is only halfway there.  If the essential oil is pure, but not therapeutic, it is essentially useless.

Next we will talk about the importance of sourcing and producing potent and therapeutic essential oils.

Sourcing: A Potent Purpose

Pure is not enough.  Your essential oil must also work.  It must be potent.  That is, it must deliver a therapeutic benefit.

Although some may use essential oils for flavoring or fragrance, most people use essential oils to experience a specific therapeutic result.  Therefore, if your essential oils is potent, you will get that benefit.  If it is not potent, you will not enjoy the benefit—regardless of how pure it is.

BACKGROUND

The same plant can yield many different levels of potency.

For example, Lavender grown in France or Bulgaria has a higher therapeutic value than Lavender grown in your backyard.  Both may be pure.  Both come from the same plant, but one works so much better than the other at delivering a therapeutic result.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

The difference between these two essential oil samples has to do with what is happening on a molecular level.

Each oil is made up of tens or hundreds of essential oil constituents or molecules.  The ratios or levels of these molecules determines the quality of the therapeutic benefit.  The closer the molecular ratio is to the ideal essential oil, the greater the therapeutic benefit will come from the essential oil.

This ratio will change depending on many factors.
Many factors affect the therapeutic value of an essential oil.  Here are a few:

  • Plant species
  • Part of the plant
  • Soil condition
  • Fertilizer
  • Geographic region
  • Climate
  • Altitude
  • Harvest season and method
  • Time of day harvested
  • Distillation process
  • and more…

These factors that determine the ratio and quality of chemical constituents in an essential oil are mainly based on the growing conditions and harvest and extraction practices.

Interestingly, plants that grow in native conditions more often than not (but not always) have a higher therapeutic value.

Also, it has been observed that plants that grow in harsh conditions produce more therapeutic essential oils – this is likely because the plant itself needs more therapeutic benefit.  Examples of this are Hawaiian Sandalwood grown in a harsh and stormy climate, and Frankincense grown in barren soil in a hot and dry climate sometimes in cliffs and surrounded by snakes (not sure what snakes has to do with it).

An example of harvest practices affecting the therapeutic value of an essential oils is Thyme.  The level of one of the key active constituents varies greatly depending on the time of year the plant is harvested.

POTENCY and  QUALITY

The quality of an essential oil can be detected by testing.  Based on past data, these test can also determine if the essential oil will be therapeutic.  Hence there are two reasons to test:

  1. Purity and
  2. Potency

One such test that scientists commonly use is the Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS), which measures the levels of these key compounds.  If there are too many or too little of certain compounds, the essential oil sample may be more or less likely to deliver the target therapeutic benefit.

Even if the essential oil sample is pure, a quality essential oil company will reject it because it is not of value to the therapeutic-use community.

PURPOSE AND POTENCY

This all comes down to why we use an essential oil.
We use essential oils because we want them to provide some therapeutic benefit.  Thus,..

  • Pure means it will do no harm
  • Potent means it will do good

You need both.

If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter whether it is pure.

If purity can be obtained through proper growing, harvesting, and extracting methods, how can we get therapeutically potent essential oils?

OBTAINING POTENCY

There are different philosophies on how to produce essential oils: either…

  • do the growing, harvesting, and extracting yourself
  • obtain tried and tested essential oils
  • source essential oils from anywhere on the planet with a great therapeutic value

Grow it yourself: Ensure purity and quality by planting, growing, and harvesting your own essential oils.

  • PROS
    •   Ability to control purity
    •   Observe entire process
  • CONS
    •   Wrong climate or region
    •   Therapeutic secondary
    •   Lack of indigenous skill

Use only established oils: Stick with historically used essential oils that have been tested by many who have come before.

  • PROS
    •   Past scientific knowledge
    •   Established data
  • CONS
    •   Ignores therapeutic value
    •   Rejected oils more therapeutic?
    •   Unnecessarily limited

Source for therapeutic value: Look for and produce only therapeutic essential oils regardless of where grown or who grows it or whether it has ever been used before.

  • PROS
    •   Most THERAPEUTIC
    •   Purity ensured-relationships and testing
  • CONS
    •   Unique oil offering
    •   New sources and new data
    •   Sourced from anywhere on EARTH

HIGHEST THERAPEUTIC VALUE

It is my opinion that sourcing essential oils solely for their therapeutic value regardless of where they are grown or who you work with will provide the highest therapeutic value.
But this also means…

  • transporting essential oils from many countries, and
  • working with growers, artisans, and natives to also ensure purity

This is no easy task.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOURCING

source: doTERRA.com

Following this practice, essential oils are sourced from the best locations on the planet for growing them.  This map just shows some of these locations.

Because Therapeutic value is affected by the climate, soil, practices, and so many other factors, the only way to get the best therapeutic value is to align those factors.
The right region.
The right soil.
The right know-how from skilled artisans (and this means building relationships of trust).

Sometime it means cooperating with others to put together the right tools and know-how.

PRODUCING WITH THE POOR

Many locations that produce the best therapeutic grade of essential oils are found in developing areas of the planet.  Some of these areas lack infrastructure, equipment, and economic structure to grow the desired therapeutic essential oil.  This infrastructure needs to be set up.  This means building relationships directly with growers, creating new jobs, forming cooperatives to make available equipment, and developing communities.

Why go to all this expense and trouble?

Because potent therapeutic essential oils work!

  • They work well
  • They work every time (they are consistent)
  • They are superior
  • You are healthier and happier because of it

To sum up the topics of both Potency and Sourcing.
Your essential oils need to be both pure and potent.  If either one fails, you have a substandard product.  There are so many ways to get this wrong, but only one way to get it right:
Source the essential oil from therapeutic source, and
Test the essential oil to ensure everything is pure, potent, and perfect.
That is how you produce the best essential oil that money can buy.

In my opinion, there is only one company in the world who is doing this.  And the results show.  It is now the biggest essential oil company in the world.

Is your essential oil certified?

CHOOSING AND ESSENTIAL OIL

The nature of the essential oil market today makes it difficult to decipher whether you are getting quality, pure, essential oils.

There is no widely accepted standardization or regulation.  This means that as long as it can be argued that the stuff in the bottle could be considered an essential oil in any way, it can be labeled and sold as an essential oil.

The problem with this is that you then have so very many different grades: stuff that is near poisonous to stuff that is amazing.

WEAK GOVERNMENT STANDARDS

There are some governing bodies in this space, but they don’t address this dilemma:

The International Organization for Standardization does have a set of standards for each type of essential oil, but these are not mandatory nor enforced by any law-makers.  Hence there is no benefit to use or refer to them unless they are known or accepted.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers essential oils a cosmetic, so manufacturers are not required to prove their effectiveness, purity or potency.  So, you can buy cheap stuff that won’t work and may actually harm you.  This is a characteristic of freedom.  It is similar to the freedom to choose broccoli or doughnuts—or maybe water or energy drink—or smoking vs aromatherapy.  Go figure, but it won’t regulate the industry by preventing it from producing lesser quality essential oils.  We just need to be more educated.

PRIVATE STANDARDS

The only standards being touted are the internal standards set by the producers.

Here is a brand that I trust: doTERRA.  doTERRA’s internal standard is called Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG).

Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils are sourced and produced for purity and therapeutic value.  So not only do they smell good, but they actually produce the desired beneficial effect in our body.

The company was founded and is run by an amazing executive team with year and years of combined experience.

What makes dōTERRA unique?
dōTERRA…
• is a debt free company with no outside funding
• has 65% retention rate, 3 X the industry average – good indication the products work
• is the world’s largest essential oil company
• was recently founded in 2008
• is now a billion-dollar company
• is privately owned – which means ambition not profit drive the company’s mission
has CPTG! – this is where you want to get your essential oil

In my opinion, this is the best combination possible for an essential oil company.  I trust the product, I trust the company, I trust the executives, whom I have all personally met.  They are… people.  Good people, who live simple lives full with passion and purpose.

GRADES ON THE MARKET TODAY

Look at this chart.
​​

Source: doTERRA.com

The majority of essential oils on the market are synthetic, made in a lab using harsh and sometimes dangerous chemicals.  These are mainly used in fragrances.

The next highest grade is the food grade.  These essential oils are produced for flavor or and are often combined with fillers or are heavily processed removing any therapeutic value.

The therapeutic grade of essential oils is unregulated and may many times contain fillers, pesticides, solvents or additives to dilute or alter what nature has provided.

CPTG goes to the highest level of not only ensuring that what you get is pure from the plant, but came from the right plant, grown under the right condition and harvested and extracted in the best way to bring optimum benefits.

QUALITY CONTROL

dōTERRA essential oils go through a strict quality control process.

​​

  • First, the distilled essential oil is sent to 3rd party scientists (independent from dōTERRA) to test for its purity and potency. They use the very latest sophisticated methods for these tests.  If and when it passes these tests, the oils are sent to dōTERRA.
  • Second, at dōTERRA, the dōTERRA scientists test the oils further a liter at a time, before and during bottling for purity and to make sure there are no contaminants during the bottling process.
  • Third, after the oils are bottled and labeled, dōTERRA keeps a sample of each batch for further testing to make sure that the essential oils remain stable and microbial free.

SOURCING​​

These essential oils are sourced globally for their therapeutic value.  Partnerships and cooperations are formed to produce essential oils for potency rather than profit.

doTERRA’s mission is to produce the best quality essential oil, which means sourcing for purity and potency not convenience or maximized profit.

Because location, climate, and therapeutic potential determine where CPTG essential oils are produced, doTERRA finds itself in random corners of the world.  Sometime this means great essential oils need to be produced in locations where living conditions are very poor.

doTERRA embodies corporate responsibility, sustainability and philanthropic impact.

doTERRA works with the many developing communities where essential oils are produced to not only produce great essential oils through their co-impact sourcing initiatives, but also to lift and improve the lives of people who really need it, which is done through their healing hands foundation.
doTERRA’s Healing Hands Foundation raises money to carry out projects such as

  • bringing drinking water to a mountain community,
  • re-building homes, schools, and hospitals in disaster areas, and
  • bringing hygiene kits, safe homes, and other practices to many in need.

doTERRA’s Co-Impact projects help create jobs by building in and supporting communities that produce essential oils, they do this by
creating cooperatives, improving growing and harvesting practices, and organizing infrastructure, and people to create jobs, sustainability, and long-term partners and friends, and
dōTERRA also partners with other humanitarian projects to do much good both in developed and developing nations.
The single, number one, thing that sets doTERRA apart, however, it it’s CPTG standard.

So, why is CPTG so important?

It’s unique.  Others may do pure, but they don’t test as rigorously as doTERRA.  Others may produce therapeutic oils, but NONE source for the best essential oils the way doTERRA does.

Because doTERRA sources in such a unique way, 84% of their essential oils are exclusive to doTERRA.

This combination is the heart of CPTG — and this means you get the best essential oil money can buy.

Oh, but best is just a matter of opinion.  Who says it’s the best?

Over 3 million people do.  doTERRA is the largest essential oil company in the world and they achieved that in under eight years.  This is circumstantial evidence that the products work.

People can’t help but share them.  It is a multi level market business, so that may explain some of the exuberance, but in my experience most people share because of an emotional connection to the product.

The statistics demonstrate this.  doTERRA has the highest retention rate of any direct sales company.  This is partly because it is first and foremost a product company rather than a marketing opportunity company.  The industry average is 10%.  doTERRA chooses multilevel marketing and direct sales because it is the best possible way to market a great product like this, and it has absolutely worked.
From a single smell to lifetime use, customers are hugely satisfied with the essential oils produced by doTERRA.

Essential oil meets human

Essential oils are great, but how do you get them to where you need them?

The main idea here is to get essential oils into or onto your body.

If you think of your body as a box with inputs and outputs, you get a bigger picture of the idea behind essential oil application.

To get oils in you, you can breathe them in, eat them, and absorb them through the skin.

How you apply your essential oil can have an effect on how the body uses it.  Sometimes, this even changes how the essential may benefit you.  For example Sandalwood applied on your skin may have a calming effect, but when applied by inhaling it, the effect can be energizing.

Most importantly, the way you apply the essential oil can influence where the therapeutic benefit is enjoyed.

The effect can be either Localized or Systemic.

  • Localized means that you experience the therapeutic benefit in the target area (usually the area of first contact).
  • Systemic means that the oil will enter the circulation system and be distributed to the entire body or system.

Topically means applying your essential oil to the skin to be absorbed.  This is ideal for a localized effect (put it where you want the therapeutic benefit).  However, it can also enter the blood system through capillaries, veins, and arteries of the skin and travel throughout the body giving you a systemic therapeutic benefit.

Internally means ingesting the essential oil.  This can have a localized effect on the mouth, throat, stomach or intestine.  If you take your essential oils with food, you have a more localized therapeutic effect on your digestive system as the amount of essential oils absorbed into the body decrease.

Aromatically means breathing the essential oil in.  It enters the body through the olfactory sensors in the nose (which are your smell detectors), or the body through the lungs.  Generally this creates a systemic effect.  However, the aroma of essential oils can seem to interact directly with the part of your nervous system and brain which controls emotions and memories.  This can seem to some people to be a localized effect.

So, here are the three ways you can use essential oils:

  • Aromatic,
  • Internal, or
  • Topical.

We will review each in turn.

Inhale: Aromatic application of essential oils.

When applying essential oils aromatically, the essential oils enter your body through your olfactory sensors in your nose or through the alveoli in your lungs.

When inhaled, some essential oils can be very stimulating while others are very calming or soothing.  Because of the highly volatile (meaning easy to evaporate) nature essential oils, they are widely known for their fragrance, and have been long used in perfumes and colognes.  Our sense of smell is closely tied to our brain’s memory, emotional, and stress-response function, therefore essential oils can have a profound impact on these areas of our lives.  Traditionally using the aroma qualities of essential oils to produce wellness benefits is called aromatherapy.  Aromatherapy is the widest accepted method of essential oil use.

OPEN BOTTLE: The easiest way to do this is to just open the bottle and smell.

CUPPED HANDS: More effective still is to put a drop or half of a drop on your hand, rub it together with the other hand, cup your hands over your mouth and nose and inhale.  This is a powerful jolt of essential oils.

PAD OR TISSUE: Place a drop or two on a tissue where you can inhale as you work.  Great for changing your mood or emotional response.

ORNAMENT: Especially during Christmas-time, you can put a few drops on a Christmas ornament or decoration.  This works for any other holiday as well.  Try the Love Potion on flowers for Valentine’s Day, of a spice blend for Thanksgiving.

PILLOW: To help you or your children sleep, place a drop or two on your pillow.

NECKLACE OR BRACELET: Not only are these fashionable, they are also very therapeutic.  Everyone will be wearing them in the future.

HUMAN DIFFUSERS: Your body heat is perfect to sustain the release of essential oils applied Topically that are not absorbed into the skin.

DIFFUSING WITH DIFFUSERS: The most practical way to experience essential oils is to use a diffuser.  Diffusing allows for continuous application, which can enhance and sustain the therapeutic value.  There are several different ways to diffuse essential oils. Buy necklace diffusers here.

A Nebulizer blows a jet of air across a small tube, which creates a vacuum and pulls liquid from a tube.  The nebulizer basically blows the oil away into the air in a fine mist.  No water is needed.  You generally just screw in the essential oil bottle.  These are best for therapeutic use because the whole oils is put in the air at once (high notes and low notes).  It does have a higher sound and uses you oils quicker, but it does cover a larger area.  Good nebulizers have settings where you can control the amount of oil used, how often and how long it stays on.

Ultrasonic or Humidifying diffusers create a fine mist by causing a small disc under the surface to vibrate very fast.  The vibrations break the essential oils into tiny particles dispersing the oil in a fine mist.  They require water with a few drops of essential oil.  They run for 2, 4 or 8 hours at a time (depending on how deep the water well is).  The process seems to blow a visible column of mist out of the machine at the same time creating a gentle sound of trickling water.  No heat is used in the process, so the mist generated is very cool.  These diffusers rely on the air currents in the room to disperse, and they generally cover smaller spaces compared to nebulizers.  These diffusers are popular due to the price, the value, and the ease of use.

Evaporative diffusers merely release essential oils into the air by evaporation.  The simplest form of evaporative diffuser is a tissue with some essential oil on it.  This type of diffuser has a pad or some other absorbent material where you can place your essential oil.  Some evaporative diffusers are powered by fan, others take the form of necklaces, inhalers, or just about anything.  Even your Christmas tree ornaments can become essential oil diffusers.

Low heat diffusers work much like evaporative diffusers, but rather than blowing air through the pad oil absorbent material, they apply low heat to speed up the evaporative process.  The best heat diffusers use a low level of heat to aid in evaporation.  Like evaporative diffusers, these are very quiet.
Although high heat can produce stronger aromas, the high level of heat actually alters the chemical constituent of the oils.  So even though you have a great aroma, you lose the therapeutic benefit.

AVOID oil burners as if they were zombies.  These destroy the chemical makeup of the essential oil and hence the therapeutic benefit.  Although they may smell great, there are more excellent ways of getting your essential oils diffused.

BENEFITS OF AROMATIC USE

Some of the main benefits of aromatic application include

  • Enhance mood
  • Clear Airways
  • Supports Memory
  • Cleanses Air
  • Releases Emotions
  • Supports Cognitive Abilities

For a Full Diffuser overview, click here.

Can you drink essential oils? Internal application.

Another way you can apply essential oils is internally.

Just a note on safety.  Most essential oils on the market are not pure enough for internal consumption (even if the label says 100% pure).  Some are produced synthetically and can be dangerous to ingest.

There is a bit of controversy over whether you should ingest essential oils.  This controversy comes about because of the prevalent low grade essential oils on the market that should not under any circumstances be taken internally.  The more you are informed, the more you are able to understand safely enjoy the awesome benefits of essential oils–especially high-grade essential oils you CAN take internally.

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You absolutely can use essential oils internally.  Millions of people do.  I am one of them.  But this only applies to pure, therapeutic essential oils.  If you have questions about whether you can take your brand of essential oils internally, consult the product information from the provider.  If it doesn’t say it, don’t do it.  If the bottle is not labeled, look on their website, or product guide.

WHICH ESSENTIAL OIL CAN I TAKE INTERNALLY?

You don’t want to ingest just any pure therapeutic essential oil.  Some don’t make sense to ingest because they are either too spicy or their characteristic benefit is better applied Aromatically or Internally.  For example Soothing Essential Oil Blend which is normally used to sooth achy muscles.  If you trust the brand, then you can use the simple rule-of-thumb that if it sounds like a food, you can likely ingest it.

I completely trust the brand of essential oil we use in our family and am grateful for the ability to benefit from the internal application of essential oils.  I am grateful to the company who produces them.  If you want to find out more about what brand I use, follow me.

MODE OF USE

The easiest way to take essential oils internally is to

  • drink a drop or two
  • add a few drops to your drinking water.
  • You can also add a few drops to a vegetable pill capsule if you do not like the taste of the essential oil you want or it is spicy.
  • Add essential oils to your food.​​

 
ORALLY TO BODY SYSTEMS

Taking your essential oils orally means it will enter the body through the mouth, throat, and digestive system.

From the digestive system, they are absorbed through layers of cells called epithelial cells (similar to your skin system) that separates internal and external environments.  The inside of your intestine is considered an external environment (one in which trillions of microbial organism live in a symbiotic relationship with us to help us get the most of the nutrition from the food we eat).

Some essential oils will not be absorbed, but will have a localized effect in the digestive tract.  This is especially true when you eat a large or fatty meal with your essential oils.  These essential oils may be excreted from the digestive tract.

Once the essential oil passes through the stomach and intestinal linings, it enters the blood and travels through the portal vein to the liver before entering systemic blood circulation.  Having gone once through the kidney before entering general circulation means that some essential oils are partially metabolized into what are called metabolites.  These metabolites may have different benefits having gone through this route.  Otherwise the untouched essential oils continue to travel to the body.
Once in the body, they have a systemic effect in the body promoting the Therapeutic benefit inherent in the essential oil.

They are then cleansed within hours, fully metabolized and secreted by the kidney and urine.
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BENEFITS OF INTERNAL CONSUMPTION OF ESSENTIAL OILS

These are the main areas of benefit to taking essential oils internally:

  •  Digestive System
  •  Mouth
  •  Throat
  •  Supports Organs

TIPS FOR INTERNAL USE

Use a glass water bottle.  Some essential oils can breakdown petrochemicals such as plastics over time.  So it is best to use glass to store and use your essential oils.

I’m a water drinker.  I don’t think I have had a soft-drink (soda) for a long time.  I love putting essential oils in my water for flavor and therapeutic benefits.  I have a few recommendations for you to add to your water: Lemon, Peppermint, Digestive Blend, and Grapefruit.


Only take the oils internally when it makes sense to.  Many people are accustomed to ‘popping a pill’ for every ill.  With essential oils, it’s a new paradigm, so consider also to utilize the oils topically and aromatically too.

Applying essential oils to your skin

Topical use of essential oils

Another way to apply essential oils is Topically.  Topically refers to to placing essential oils directly on the skin, hair, mouth, nails or any other part of the body.  Essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin, and will spread throughout your body.

I love this application method because Topically sounds like Tropically, and Tropically means holiday in a sunny location.  Yummm!  But seriously, Topically is a great way to apply essential oils.

This means applying the oil directly to the skin either with or without dilution.  The skin then absorbs the essential oil, where it provides a localized effect or travels into the bloodstream for a systemic effect.

PASSING THROUGH

Because our skin is permeable (meaning things can pass through it), it absorbs a great deal of what we put on it.  Our skin especially absorbs essential oils because of their small molecular size in addition to their lipid soluble qualities.
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WHERE DO I APPLY MY ESSENTIALS ON MY SKIN?

Look at your body.  There’s a lot of skin, huh.  So it may not be entirely helpful to just say, put it on your skin.  So we will be specifically helpful.  Here are some AWESOME places on your skin to apply essential oils:

  • The bottom of the feet is ideal because the pores are large, there are less nerve endings, and the skin on the sole is thicker; thus, the oils enter the blood stream quicker and spicy oils do not need to be diluted.  Besides the foot is far from the nose, so it is easier to apply oils you would rather not smell.
  • Under the nose – this helps with aromatic application on the go
  • Across the forehead
  • At the base if the skull
  • At the back of the neck
  • On the temples
  • And where it hurts (essential oils are good at soothing and calming)
    • Belly, arm, elbow, etc.

 

DILUTE IT

Pure essential oils are even suitable for the most sensitive skin.  However, you must dilute some oils even in their pure form.  Some hot oils like Oregano or Cinnamon may cause a burning sensation on the skin without dilution.

Diluting an essential oil does three things:

  1. It softens the “spicy-ness” of essential oils to the very young, old, or sensitive person,
  2. It lessens the dosage of the application, and
  3. It sustains the release of the essential oils through the skin.
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DILUTION  LABELS

Your essential oils may be labeled to indicate whether they are recommended to be diluted.

  • Oils that are labeled NEAT do not require dilution.  Apply these directly on skin.  However, you may dilute if desired to spread the oil out or sustain the release or therapeutic benefit.
  • Oils labeled SENSITIVE need to be diluted for young or sensitive skin.
  • Oils labeled DILUTE are best diluted before using.

DILUTION AGENTS

You can dilute essential oils with other oils called ‘carrier oils’.  Examples of carrier oils are jojoba oil, grape seed oil, and coconut oil.  Most people find the best oil for diluting is Fractionated Coconut Oil (coconut oil with the protein strains removed which makes it liquid at room temperature).
You can also dilute with an unscented hand or body lotion or homemade body butter.

DRIVE IT IN

There are a few things you can do to improve the efficacy of your essential oils when applying topically:

  • Use a Carrier oil to help drive in the oil and sustain the therapeutic effect.
  • Applying a Hot compress expedites the absorption process.
  • Shower after application.  Although you might think that water would wash the oil off, it actually has the effect of driving the oil in.  When I need a particular therapeutic benefit quickly, I rub some essential oils on and hop in the shower.
  • Use a Roller bottle to help apply the essential oil.  This is not only convenient, but allows you to have a pre-diluted mix already ready.
  • Massage – massage has many benefits.  It drives the oils in, improves absorption, and the touch and manipulation stimulates the localized area.

TOUCH MASSAGE TECHNIQUE

Touch massage also provides an opportunity to connect with the receiver.  Muscle manipulation is not necessary.  Merely apply the desired oils and gently move the oils over the skin.  Special massage techniques regarding aromatherapy touch massage are easy to learn and draw upon ancient and modern knowledge of pressure points, neuro-energy systems, and the lymphatic system — the rewards include immune support, stress relief, inflammation support, and lymphatic stimulation. Learn more about AromaTouch Technique here.

JUST A POINT ABOUT REFLEXOLOGY

Interestingly, your feet, hands and ears seem to contain access to your neuroelectrical pathways throughout your body.  Your body is wired with nerve cells.  This energy system runs through your whole body and ends in places like your feet.  Knowledge of these systems can assist in applying essential oils topically.

You can find reflexology charts which attempt to map points on your feet, hands, and ears with specific body systems or parts.  Simply apply to your reflex points on your foot, hand or ear to affect different areas or systems in your body.

This is perfect for children and babies or sick or bandaged people.  You can experience the therapeutic benefit in that part of the body even though you can’t reach if for whatever reason.

source: M oder n E ssenti als B ook

BENEFITS OF APPLYING ESSENTIAL OILS TOPICALLY

The biggest benefit of applying essential oils topically, as I see it, is that you can more directly get the essential oil to where you need it.  Here are the main benefit areas:

  • Localized effect
  • Immediate comfort in target location
  • Immune support
  • Muscle relief
  • Skin applications

TIME FOR ESSENTIAL OILS TO ENTER

Because essential oils have a very tiny molecular weight and size, they are easily absorbed through the skin.  They take seconds to enter the body.  They can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours to be fully absorbed into all the cells of the body.  They take about 3 to 6 hours to be expelled or metabolized in a normal healthy body, and up to 12 to 14 hours for an unhealthy or obese body.

MY TOPICAL TIP:

Make a cologne.  Most colognes or perfumes on the market are purely synthetic (oxymoron).  You can make you own cologne out of the best essential oils.  Here are my favorites:

How Much and How Often?

We are going to talk about dosage, frequency and best practices.

To get optimal benefits from using essential oils here are some things to consider:

CONSISTENT USE

Use Consistently.  The oils can be metabolized quickly so you should use the essential oils on a regular consistent basis for best results.

DILUTION

Diluting essential oils a little helps them stay on the skin longer.  In fact, some essential oils need to be diluted to be effective.  Some ‘hot’ or ‘spicy’ oils need to be diluted when using topically on sensitive skin.  Soothing blend is an example of a ‘hot’ oil.  Dilute essential oils with a lotion or a carrier oil such as Fractionated Coconut oil.

TAKE ONE THING AT A TIME

Address issues singularly —don’t try to fix all your health issues in one go.  Look at what is most urgent and work on that first.  You’ll find that as you go, the other issues either disappear without much effort because they may be connected to the first issue.

LOOK AT THE BIG WELLNESS PICTURE

Always take the big picture fundamental approach— almost all ailments have many causes.  So be fully aware of other potential causes: the role of toxins in your environment, pro-inflammatory and toxic foods and drink you take in, cleaning products you come in contact with, your feelings & emotions, electromagnetic exposure, foreign invaders (such as fungus, parasites, bacteria, or viruses), excess stress, lack of sleep, and inability to rest and repair.

These are all factors which play a part in everyone’s health.  When we reduce toxins, manage stress, get quality sleep, etc. our body can heal properly.  Applying essential oils will be most effective when addressing the holistic wellness picture.

PROPER DOSAGE AND FREQUENCY

Be sensible and adjust the amounts of oils you use accordingly.  Also be mindful of how often you apply or don’t apply.

Our body has a finite ability to metabolize.  Pure essential oils are safe to use and guidelines provide boundaries to keep the use free of discomfort.  However, even good things become less effective if they are not used intelligently and with moderation.  For example, we can put ourselves in a coma simply by drinking 5 gallons of water in one go.

The same is true for essential oils.  When determining your dosage, you need to ask the difficult question, “How much does your body need?,” or, “What is your Therapeutic Range?”  There is a magical amount of essential oils that your body will respond to with optimal therapeutic benefit.  Your job is to find that range and stay within it.

There are four scenarios:

  • Insufficient Dose: If your dose is not high enough, you will not experience any benefit
  • Optimal Dose: This is the sweet spot.  This falls in the therapeutic range, which provides the ultimate therapeutic benefit
  • Large Dose: As the dose gets larger, it rises above the therapeutic range, and thus the benefit you experience begins to decline
  • Way too much: As the dosage increases, your body is busy metabolizing the essential oils and you may receive no therapeutic benefit. ​​


Find your therapeutic benefit range.  We are all unique so practice using the oils until you find your therapeutic range.  Start with a drop or two and increase it until you find the range that is right for you.  Let yourself tap into your power of intuition.
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Your body will metabolize and remove the essential oil within 4-6 hours.

When you first apply your essential oils, the levels of essential oils in your body will rise, then as your body metabolizes them, those levels will fall.

The trick is to space out your application, so that you maintain or sustain the amount of essential oils in your body in the therapeutic range.  This is what is meant by being consistent.

Start with 1 drop depending on the mode of application, then experiment.  This is a process and may take time to detect your therapeutic range.

That is one of the fun things about essential oils: you adjust it like you adjust a fine tool or an instrument.  It is so gratifying and empowering that we have these tools to improve and maintain our wellness.

 

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