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INTRODUCTION TO ESSENTIAL OILS


Essential oils- the essence of botanicals, are highly concentrated, fragrant, ethereal or volatile oils extracted from various parts of botanicals be it leaves, foliage, flowers, roots, bark or hardwood etc. using the technical processes. An essential oil is “essential” in sense that it contains the essence of the different fragrance, and the properties of the botanicals/plants from which they are derived. The substantial technology employed is hydro distillation and steam distillation. The key difference between steam distillation and hydro distillation is that steam distillation uses steam for the extraction whereas hydro distillation uses water, steam or a combination of water and steam for the extraction in the controlled heating parameters. The mixture of gases produced during this process is collected in the condenser. When cooled, the products collected is the mixture of water and oil together. The two condensed liquids are gravity fed into a separation funnel, where they are separated. The collected oil is called essential oil and water is called hydrosol. There are other technologies too like the rind of lemons /oranges where oil is recovered by something like extraction. But since the production technologies are not part of this series we must accept: Essential oil is the essence of the botanical extracted by a technology that is centuries old and has evolved over a period of time with slight modification whilst the basic principle is the same.

ESSENTIAL OILS VS. EDIBLE OILS Essential oil is different than the oils we know and often use in the kitchen. Oils in common parlance are oils recovered from seeds of that plant (like mustard, peanuts, sesame, etc.) and are extracted for regular use in food as they contain fats required by body to provide nutrition; Whereas, essential oil is not used for nutrition and must be avoided from direct consumption without dilution, and should be consumed under expert supervision. So, the difference is what we use in kitchen is fat /oil and oil we get as essential oil –devoid of fat that can be used it as nutrition. Most likely essential oils were distilled for purposes of fragrance and was meant for elite population. In case of edible oils, recovery rate of oil is around 30-40 % of seeds while in case of essential oils recovery rate is approximately 0.2% to 0.4%; that means for 100 kgs of raw material we get some thing like 200 to 400 gms and in case of essential oils derived from flower part the recovery of oil is even lesser than this.

ESSENTIAL OILS VS. FRAGRANCE OILS Earlier when everything was nature based, the fragrances were from natural products and essential oil was best way but since the yields were extremely low the costs were always high so limited use. And, with the arrival of chemistry and industrialisation that resulted in urbanisation. The bad odour caused by manufacturing slowly associated the advent of demand of fragrances -a combination of different factory-made compounds to get fragrance. So, the qualitative difference here is that in essential oils fragrance is an inbuilt character from one product/botanical and in fragrance its combination of compounds to get a desired smell. Products that include synthetic ingredients are frowned upon in holistic aromatherapy. It is important to note that perfume oils also known as fragrance oils (and usually listed as “fragrance” on an ingredient label) are not the same as essential oils. Fragrance oils and perfume oils contain synthetic chemicals and do not provide the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.

AROMATHERAPY The word aromatherapy started somewhere in the middle of the last century, more by trial-and-error method and as a subject, it really picked up in this century with the advent of social media. On the other side researchers wanting to expand the products from which medicinal properties can be picked, the term aromatherapy was introduced by the French perfumer Gattefosse and was appeared as an accidental finding to have arisen from a personal experience after burning his hand in the laboratory. He treated his hand with pure lavender oil, which, apparently, immediately eased the pain and the burn subsequently healed with no infection and little or no scarring. It is said that this technique was subsequently used with great success in treating soldiers wounded in the First World War. Researchers further started marching of seeing possibilities in this area and with a great amount of success —clove oil in dentists’ armory for toothache is the best example. This segment of Aromatherapy has been fast gaining ground. We will cover this aspect in detail in further notes as that is the principle themes of these notes. We in Tejasvani, have used oils successfully in lot of conditions which members of group knows as regularly updated. This course will specifically focus on the medicinal properties of essential oils and how to use them in healing

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