featured · Uncategorized

What Are Essentials Oils?

Those mysterious little brown bottles used to be found only in health food stores–and were usually stocked next to other mysterious little bottles. But today, volatile organic compounds, which the layperson knows as essential oils, are found in drugstores, supermarkets and even in discount department stores nationwide.

But what are essential oils, exactly?

Just as with the question of what, exactly, aromatherapy is, the term “essential oil” means different things to different people. To a botanist an essential oil is a volatile organic liquid extracted from plant material.

To someone who embraces a more esoteric approach to aromatherapy, though, the answer will more likely run along the lines of, “An essential oil is the life force of the plant from which it was taken.” Or, as a well-known aromatherapy author puts it, “Essential oils are the essence of any fragrant plant.”

One thing essential oils are not, however, are oils. Despite the “oil” part of their names, the vast majority of essential oils contain no appreciable amounts of lipids at all.

But essential oils do seem to be important to their plants. Some of the roles essential oils are believed to play include:

  • Attracting pollinators
  • Allelopathic competition
  • Predator defense
  • Disease prevention
  • Healing

But can they really spur healthy changes in our bodies? A growing body of scientific research seems to suggest that they can.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s