A concentrate of virtues from plants.
The information in this document can not be considered as medical advice or individualized advice. As a result, we invite you to contact your doctor or health care professional.
The power of Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is a branch of herbal medicine, it is defined as the use of essential oils (EO) aromatic medicinal plants for therapeutic purposes.
For thousands of years, many civilizations around the world have shown a clear interest in aromatic plants in medicine, cooking and perfumery.
This outstanding efficiency, essential oils owe it to the complexity of their composition.
Each contains several hundred molecules.
"It is the synergy between all their compounds that makes them so interesting," says Jean-Charles Schnebelen, pharmacist and teacher at the University Paris 13.
It must be said that these species are a bit of the concentrate of the plant defense system. They are the ones that allow them to resist aggressions (UV, viruses, bacteria, parasites ...).
Most therefore have antiseptic virtues (eucalyptus, thyme, niaouli ...).
And each has one or more other properties: analgesic (bergamot, chamomile, lavender ...), antiviral (tea-tree, niaouli ...), digestive (badian, ginger, fennel ...), healing (rosewood, petit-grain ...) , anti-inflammatory (chamomile, helichrysum, juniper ...), anxiolytic (marjoram, lemon verbena ...).
What is the interest of essential oils compared to medicines?
In addition to their all-natural composition, the therapeutic value of essential oils lies in their extraordinary variety of biochemical molecules: up to two hundred for some! Each of them has various properties, unlike conventional drugs that usually contain only one molecule. Their effectiveness has been demonstrated by many high-level studies.
What are the limits of essential oils?
Aromatherapy is a cure for small daily ailments for the whole family, but is not intended to cure serious illnesses such as cancer or diabetes for which it is necessary to turn to a doctor. The essential oil, however, is a natural accompaniment to "heavy" drug treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy that can reduce some side effects such as nausea or skin burns.
Obtaining essential oils for therapy
Essential oils are volatile and odoriferous principles secreted and excreted by aromatic plants.
- The expression: this method concerns rutaceae and allows to obtain the essences of zest: lemon, orange, bergamot ...
Distillation by steam distillation makes it possible to obtain the essential oil and the hydrolate or floral water.
- The yields: They vary from one species to another. The price of essential oils is directly related to the amount of plant needed to obtain the corresponding essential oil.
- It takes 4000 kg of petals to obtain 1 kg of essential oil of Damascus rose
- It takes from 5000 to 10000 kg of plant to obtain 1 kg of lemon grass essential oil true. Distrust if you find these essential oils cheap.
How to judge the quality of essential oils?
The craze for aromatherapy has propelled the market of essential oil of various origin and of uncertain quality. The ease of purchase of these essential oils, without guarantees and often without advice of use, incurs to the user risks of inefficiency, and the appearance of more or less serious side effects.
The quality of essential oil on the market is very variable and quality and low prices are not really compatible, you will understand why.
1 - The plant
- Its origin: authentic products of nature, essential oil must be obtained from wild plants or from organic farming. Wild plants provide HE of exceptional quality, they will have a biological and energy activity much higher than organic plants.
- Botanical certification: the name of the plant must specify the genus, the species, the subspecies, the part used to prevent any error resulting from the common names.
Examples: Marjoram, there is the marjoram of gardens or shells = Origanum majorana and Marjoram of Spain or Thymus mastichina.
Common hyssop: Hyssopus officinalis ssp officinalis contains neurotoxic ketones, Hyssopus officinalis var.decumbens contains few ketones.
- The source: there are some essential oils like wines; there are great wines of an essential oil as there are great wines! So the soil where a plant has grown largely determines the quality of the essence it produces.
The mode of picking (by hand), the flower stage, the time of day or will be picked the plant, all these parameters will result the quality and composition of the essential oil.
2 - Extraction
Distillation: This is ancestral knowledge. This extraction requires a perfect knowledge of the aromatic plant because each plant has its characteristics, therefore heating temperatures, pressure and different distillation times to collect all the fractions of "head" and "tail" molecules aromatics.
Some therapeutic molecules are at the end of distillation, the distillation will therefore continue as long as the plant makes aromatic fractions. It takes sometimes 2 to 3 hours of additional distillation to obtain this small fraction of therapeutic molecules.
It is a "long" distillation, unlike the "short" distillation used by perfumery. The result is obtaining an exceptional essential oil.
- Storage: Essential oils are stored away from air, light and heat.
3 - The essential oil
The essential oil must be 100% natural, that is to say undenatured by the same synthetic oils.
The essential oil must be 100% pure, that is to say unmixed or cut with other essential oils close but less expensive (eg lavender and lavandin).
The essential oil must be 100% total, that is to say possess all the trace molecules, sometimes strongly active. To define the presence and the percentage of each type of molecules, there are means of control:
Gas chromatography. This technique makes it possible to identify each of the aromatic components (often very numerous) of an essential oil.
Mass spectrometry: it gives the percentage amount of each molecule identified and thus offers the certainty of a wild or organic natural product.
These controls are essential to know the properties of the essential oil, likewise the traceability of essential oil from the producer to the consumer is important and allows pharmacovigilance.
An essential notion in aromatherapy.
The same variety of plant can give an ET of extremely different nature depending on the place where it grows, the time of its harvest and the extraction process implemented.
Thus, two plants of the same name, can secrete essences, whose components and the proportions of these components, will present more or less important differences.
To differentiate the essential oils extracted from each of these plants, the term "chemotype" is used simply meaning "chemical type". The differences between 2 chemotypes of the same essential oil can be extremely important and change completely the chemical or biological property of the essential oil.
Example: - Verbena rosemary essential oil is famous for the liver and gallbladder.
- The essential oil of rosemary with camphor is toxic for the liver.
Precautions for use of essential oils
• The first 3 months of pregnancy preclude the use of essential oil. Only a physician or midwife aromatherapist will take responsibility for prescribing essential oil during pregnancy.
• People with allergies and ultra-sensitive skin will perform a tolerance test by applying a few drops (1 in children) of essential oil on the fold of the elbow.
In case of intolerance, a skin reaction (irritation, redness) will be visible in about ten minutes.
• After massage or skin application, always wash your hands.
• Never inject essential oil intravenously or intramuscularly.
• Do not leave flasks within reach of children. Some HEs are deadly poisons if swallowed.
• The nose, auditory canal and anogenital areas can never be used for pure essential oil. A dilution of 5% of essential oil in a vegetable oil will allow the application on these sensitive mucous membranes. In case of accidental contact with these sensitive mucous membranes, it is advisable to rinse with water then to apply a compress impregnated vegetable oil (olive, sweet almond ).
• The eye can never receive essential oils, even diluted. Only hydrolats will be used in eye compresses or in eye baths.
If a few drops have fallen into the eye, wash as fast as possible with fresh water for 2 minutes. place a compress impregnated vegetable oil (olive, sweet almond) in the eye to dilute the whole
• In the event of accidental absorption or instillation, ingest or apply a fatty oil to dilute the essential oil (olive, sunflower) and then contact the poison control center.
• Avoid sun exposure within hours after application of a photosensitizing essential oil (citrus zest).
• Baths: essential oils must imperatively be diluted in a suitable medium before joining the bath water.Insoluble in water, they would remain on the surface, risking to irritate the skin.
Special case of children and babies
- Respect the indicated dosage, 1 drop, it is a drop, the oils are extremely powerful.
- Do not replace one oil with another without the advice of a professional. Each essential oil has a very specific composition.
• Prohibition of oral essential oils in children under 3 years of age.
• Peppermint essential oil is never applied on a large surface because of the icy reaction it causes, it is strictly contraindicated for pregnant and lactating women as well as for babies under 30 months .
• Except for some ecxeptions, essential oils do not fit on the skin, but are diluted in a vegetable oil.
The main therapeutic properties of essential oils
The activity of essential oils is due to the properties of the aromatic molecules that compose them, which are known and biochemically defined molecules. Essential oils (respectful of our body) have a very broad spectrum of action on various therapies and in the infectious field, we can no longer deny their effectiveness.
Healing and anti-hematoma
Tonic and stimulating
Aromatherapy is in some areas an indisputable therapy, but consumer protection is a growing concern, should not we wonder about the consequences of uncontrolled development of essential oils for purposes beneficial to health?
Aromatherapy has a global action on the entire body and its physiology: it is one of its strengths, essential oils care for both body and mind allowing a conception of health well in advance of our time.
If aromatherapy is an effective method of care when properly conducted, a medical consultation is required to establish a diagnosis and any persistent symptoms.
The future of aromatherapy: thanks to many confirmed scientists from around the world, it is gaining ground in the medical, cosmetic, agri-food and veterinary worlds.
Rather than confront each other, let's hope that allopathic medicine and therapeutic aromatherapy complement each other effectively for health.
- Dominique Baudoux: Aromatherapy, heal with essential oils.
- Dr. Jean-Michel Morel: Phytotherapy Treatise
- Danièlle Festy: My bible of essential oils
- Pierre Franchomme and Doctor D. Pénoel: aromatherapy exactly.
The information contained in this document can not be considered as an opinion.