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Hippocrates – 460 BC – 370 BC
ruby maalouf, nd
The use of aromatic plants in medicine, cooking and personal hygiene can be traced back to Medieval times. But the French chemical engineer from Lyon, René-Maurice Gattefossé, who in 1928 introduced the term 'Aromatherapy' and created the ‘Therapeutic Applications of Essential Oils‘. He is considered the founding father of scientific aromatherapy, a science that uses rigorous methodology to study essential oils and their therapeutic virtues.
Essential oils offer very interesting therapies in holistic health because of their numerous applications and their actions which are reflected on both physical and psychological aspects of health.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic compounds derived from plants.
They are true and undiluted essenses extracted generally by steam distillation directly from flowers (rose), fruits (lemon) leaves (peppermint), bark (cinnamon), roots (horseradish), spices (cloves), tree blossoms (Ylan Ylang) and gums (frankincense).
Essential oils are generally extracted directly from aromatc plants and trees through a 'water vapor distillation' process.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ESSENTIAL OILS
A typical essential oil is a complex mixture of over 100 chemical compounds. The tiny molecular structure of the components of an essential oil makes it extremely concentrated. Their lipid solubility along with their very small size makes them easily penetrate the body through the skin.
Essential oils are usually clear, pale yellow or yellow liquids although a few are solid or semi-solid (camphor). An example of a deep colored essential oil is the blue German chamomille.
STORAGE OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils must be stored in dark tightly closed bottles away from sources of heat because they are susceptible to degradation by the following factors:
Oxygen: oxidation is a process that can change the chemical composition of the essential oil when oxygen combines with some of the components
Heat: it can speed up oxydation
Light: it can speed up oxydation
QUALITY OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils used for medicinal purposes should not be contaminated with pesticides or other chemicals and they should never be adulterated with other essential oils or synthetic compounds because both contamination and adulteration increase toxicity.
It is therfore very important to buy essential oils from a reputable source with stringent quality control testing.