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Unless you have been living under a rock the last few years, you have surely heard about essential oils. In fact, you can go to many local stores and find an assortment of essential oils and diffusers. You might be tempted to purchase a bottle of lavender or peppermint and try them. There is a potential problem with that scenario, however. What are those oils, and what is exactly in that bottle of 100 percent therapeutic grade oil? Here is what you need to know regarding what essential oils are, how they should be used, what kind you should try.

What exactly are essential oils?

They are volatile natural aromatic compounds that come from plants. They are called essential because they contain the essence of the plant’s fragrance from which it comes. They are extracted from different parts of the plants like the flower, leaves, stems, bark, resin, roots and rinds of fruits. The plants that are used have an innate ability to protect themselves in their environment from predators, environmental elements, bacteria and fungi. 

How do these oils work?

Oils are made up of chemical compounds that are capable of creating conditions where unfriendly viruses and bacteria cannot live. They protect against fungus. They have the potential to support the immune and nervous systems. They help protect our bodies against free-radicals by delivering oxygen to cells thus supporting our systems and providing a new level of health and wellness.

The oils are such small molecules that they are able to penetrate into the body very quickly and also leave the body very quickly. Some research has shown that the oils are detected in the bloodstream after inhalation or topical application anywhere from three to 20 minutes. This is something to consider carefully. Lower grade essential oils that have been extracted with solvents or have synthetic additives in them may actually be dangerous, so these oils should be avoided.

How do you use essential oils?

Essential oils are used either through inhalation (aromatic), topical application or ingestion. Aromatically you can use a diffuser, or place a drop in your hand and inhale or apply to a cotton ball, or piece of jewelry and inhale. Topically, you can use a carrier oil such as coconut, jojoba, vitamin E, almond or avocado with a few drops of your essential oil and apply to the skin. You may also ingest them. There again a great concern exists for the safety profile of the oils should you choose to take them internally. Not all oils are generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Young Living labels their oils to indicate whether they are safe for consumption.

Quality oils or not?

Most people will not be able to differentiate a tainted essential oil from a pure essential oil. The tainted oil can have solvents, additives and impurities from the soil it is grown in or the way it is harvested or the distillation or bottling process. The average person will not be able to detect the impurities by smelling the oil because the essential oil will mask it. However, your brain knows the difference and should you use those oils it can be harmful to your body. It is very very important that you do your research regarding the company’s standards or go to a friend you trust to help guide you in your decision.

How do you know if you can trust a company that claims their oils are pure? You should choose a company that has a long history of growing and distilling their own oils. You should choose a company whose standards are strict for understanding the process and the chemistry of the oils. The company you choose should have their own farms, distilleries and labs in order to ensure you are getting a quality pure unadulterated product.

The government doesn’t regulate the labeling of oils. They require that at least five percent of the contents of a bottle of essential oil be 100 percent therapeutic, so the remaining contents can be alcohols, carrier oils or other unhealthy ingredients.

Choose a company that guarantees a long history of research and development and strict standards in order to provide a high quality effective therapeutic product that will support your health and wellness. 

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Shoshana Church is an independent distributor for Young Living. She can be reached at schurchpac@gmail.com for more information about essential oils and uses specific to individual needs.

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