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ESSENTIAL OILS

On July the 11th it was International Essential Oils Day, but you may already know that Malano celebrates Essential Oils Day every day. In this journal, I'd like to talk a little bit about the basics :

  • History
  • Origin
  • Types
  • Uses
  • Cautions

My mum taught me a lot of the basics about essential oils and their safety and back in 1990 bought me my very own book on essential oils. For all of you oils lovers, you would know Valerie Ann Worwood, she wrote, "The Fragrant Pharmacy" and it was copyrighted in 1990. It was a great reference and still is, since then, she has written numerous books and I also have a copy of the 25th-anniversary edition of, "The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy." *

If you are really into oils, do yourself a favour and buy a copy, it's an excellent reference book and great if you're studying aromatherapy and oils, or, you may be essential oil obsessed. The one thing that you do need to understand is that everything talked about is for general interest only and never intends to treat, diagnose or cure. If you are experiencing psychological distress or health concerns, you must see your licensed health professional.

Why is it important to know about history? Everything has a story, including the plant kingdom, so it's a great way to understand why oils are so special and why they need to be treated with appreciation, gratitude and caution.

Oils were used in ancient times, in countries such as Egypt, India, Persia, Greece & Rome. In the early days, a technique called enfleurage was used by the Egyptians to extract precious oils and resins from flowers, roots and leaves. It was done by saturating the particular item in animal fat and left for various lengths of time to extract the substances. They used the oils for cosmetic purposes, in religious ceremonies and medicine. There have been pots discovered suggesting that they had the ability to distil as far back as 3,500 years ago.

There are hundreds of essential oils, absolutes and resins and the ways that oils are extracted include; maceration, steam distillation, CO2 extraction, solvent extraction, water distillation, cold press extraction and enfleurage. There are some varying opinions about the best methods, I'm not going to make your mind up about that, however, I will write another journal about the methods of extraction, which is a bit beyond the basics of this journal. Each section could be a journal in and of itself.

There are many types of plants and trees that are used for extracting their essential oils, such as; roots, fruits, flowers, barks, seeds, grasses, leaves and stems. There are well over 300 oils available and counting. A lot of oils produced in Tasmania are limited to the species that we grow. However, the oils produced here, we can boast are amongst the best in the world. There are multiple species as well within a plant type, an example is Lavender, not all Lavenders are equal, when it comes to essential oils. We grow Lavandula Angustifolia in Tasmania and it is stunning. There are well over 45 species with 450 different varieties, so you get a lot of hybrid types. Angustifolia is one of the best for essential oils and aromatherapy application. Once again, others may have a different opinion, but in terms of manufacturing, we prefer Angustifolia.

Essential Oil use varies as well. It is used in natural perfumes, some people like to use oils to relax with massage and humidifiers and others like to use them for medicinal, ceremonial and beauty products. They can be added to food if you have food-grade oils and understand how to use them correctly, we always suggest that if you are using them internally, always seek the guidance of an essential oil practitioner or an aromatherapist, as they can alter the gut biome if you take them unnecessarily or at the wrong dosages. It would be like taking medicine that you don't need. I have a tip about essential oils, avoid using them in candles as they have a low flash point. Meaning that they can and will blow up.

Here is the part that you may not like to hear about, the 'Cautions.' You may be thinking, "How dare you say that oils are to be used with caution!" It would be remiss of me not to explain that essential oils have listed cautions. They are listed as a chemical by the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), whether you want to agree or not, it is what it is. The reason they are called chemicals is that they contain volatile chemical compounds from plants, not all chemicals are demons, just remember that folks.

So, when you hear people say that essential oils are harmless and natural, I would think twice about their advice. Sorry to upset your view of reality, but it's the truth. There are a number of people who should avoid essential oils or at least obtain the correct advice. These include:

Pregnancy - If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, be very cautious as there are many oils that you should avoid altogether. If you have given birth, avoid all oils until 6-9 months, and even then there are only a few safe ones. Safer oils are Lavandula Angustifolia & Chamomile, at least after 6 months. See below.

Hypertension - Essential oils can cause other issues if you have high blood pressure, example of safer oils for high blood pressure are Lavender, Marjoram & Rosemary. For low blood pressure, Thyme & Cinnamon.

Epilepsy or a Neural Disease - Always check with an expert if you would like to use oils, Lavender, Lemongrass and Clove.

Babies - There are different oils that are considered safe at varying ages, so this is best to obtain advice before introducing them to your child. Always dilute using the minimum amount of essential oil to carrier such as Jojoba Oil. Always seek professional advice before using on babies.

Pets - There are a lot of oils that are toxic to cats, dogs and rabbits etc. Some oils are safe for dogs and cats, some are safe for cats only and others for dogs only. For example; Frankincense, Rose, Lavender (in small amounts) and Rosemary are safe for both cats and dogs.

Overuse - Constant use of the same oils every day over a 3 month period can create sensitivities, so be cautious and try to vary your oil use.

Photosensitivity - Citrus oils such as Bergamot, contain a volatile compound called, 'Bergaptene' which increases your skin's sensitivity to the sun.

Take away from all of this; do your research from valid sources and reference materials, start low and go slow. Less is best. Why? You can always add but you can't take away. If you are interested in more, drop us a line at Malano and I will write more.

Many blessings

Maryka xx

References:

Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. 25th Anniversary Edition. Novato, CA: New World Library, 1991, 2016.

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