What Are Essential Oils? How Are They Made? How Do They Work?

Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds that are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants.

Essential oils are what give plants their distinctive smells, they protect plants and play a role in plant pollination. In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and their beautiful fragrance, essential oils have a long history of use when it comes to healing the body.

But what exactly is a volatile aromatic compound? In short, these compounds are small molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. They are called volatile because they change state quickly. When you first open a bottle of essential oil, you instantly notice that the aroma is potent and you can smell it typically even from some distance.

The physical and chemical properties of the volatile aromatic compounds that compose essential oils allow them to quickly move through the air and directly interact with the olfactory sensors in the nose. Such unique properties make essential oils ideal for applications inclusion in aromatherapy – using these compounds from plants to help maintain a healthy body and a stable mood – as well as other applications. The type of volatile aromatic compounds present in an essential oil determines both the oil’s aroma and the benefits it offers.

Over 3,000 varieties of volatile aromatic compounds have been identified to date. The nature of an essential oil varies from plant to plant, within botanical families, and from species to species. The delicate ratio of aromatic constituents found in any given essential oil are what make it unique and give it specific benefits.

Even with pure essential oils the composition of the oil can vary depending on the time of day, season, geographic location, method and duration of distillation, year grown, and the weather, making every step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the essential oil product.

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How Can You Use Essential Oils?

Essential oils can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used as single essential oils or in complex essential oil blends depending on use experience and desired benefit.

Personally I use doTerra oils all through the day! I start the morning with my bespoke blend to work on the health of my body. I am currently loving Douglas fir it’s been so beneficial in reducing my asthma. I use a blend of oils in my diffuser in the clinic this changes daily. My personal favourite to keep me motivated (at the moment I’m especially loving lemon and bergamot).

I’ve also made up some cleaning products using On Guard (protective blend) with water, vinegar and Lemon essential oil. So good! Lately whenever I’ve been feeling a bit run down I’ve been applying a few drops of On Guard to the back of my neck and on soles of our feet and it’s worked a treat. Then if I’m going out for a meeting or catch up I’ll often use Whisper or Hope blend as a perfume – it’s such a yummy smell. And finally I’ve even used them in cooking and they make the foods taste incredible. Decadent peppermint chocolate brownies anyone? Also rosemary and thyme essential oils are unbelievably good with sweet potato chips just FYI! You only need to use a whisker of oil.* So you see I could go on can you see how much I’m loving these oils!!

Want to learn more about how you can use essential oils? Visit doTerra’s essential oils usage page to learn how to safely use doTERRA essential oils.

What to know how to purchase doTerra oils? Click here to find out more.

*Ingesting essential oils is the subject of some debate. As with all usage of essential oils you need to be mindful of the dose and the method of ingestion and make your own enquiries and this may include speaking with to a health professional. If you choose not to ingest the oils you can still enjoy many benefits with using aromatically or topically.

The French have always used essential oils to ingest when I was pregnant I had the dreaded heart burn, that is often associated with pregnancy nothing was working I was in agony so I used some sandalwood and I was sorted.

I have used essential oils all my life for myself, my son, my clients and my clinic including the skin care brands I stock in my clinic and our online store

Carmel Cochrane Aromatherapist