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How do essential oils and aromatherapy actually work?

How does Aromatherapy work?
 
When essential oils are applied, they are absorbed through the skin into the blood stream and carried through the whole body, helping to balance its natural functions. When chemically analysed, each essential oil contains many, often hundreds of compounds. Each compound has a different therapeutic effect.

SEE menu ARTICLES/NEWS or menu CHEMICAL INFO for more detailed information.

Orthodox medicine is very good at understanding each individual compound and its effect on the body, e.g. the effect of everyday chemical compounds, such as aspirin. When nature mixes hundreds of compounds together in tiny proportions as in the case of essential oils, the interaction of all these parts is, so far, too complex for science to analyse or understand. The term synergistic reaction is used when the mixture of all the compounds has a more potent effect than can be explained by the individual compounds being added up.
Essential oils are nature's potent remedies which work in harmony with the body. The body takes from each remedy what it needs. This accounts for the surprising fact that one essential oil can act as either a relaxant or a stimulant.

HOW ARE ESSENTIAL OILS, ABSOLUTES & FLORAL WATERS PRODUCED?

They are produced by three main methods:

1. Steam distillation. The plant material, e.g. leaves or flowers, as in the case of Lavender, has steam passed through it, then the steam is condensed into water and oil. The oil is the pure essential oil and the remaining water makes floral water.

2. Expression. This method is used for citrus fruits. The peel is compressed forcing the essential oil out.

3. Solvent extraction. This method is used when steam may harm the delicate plant material, as with: Rose, Jasmine and Neroli flower petals. The flowers are covered in a solvent which is then evaporated or distilled away. This produces what is called an absolute oil.