Why essential oils?

Essential oils can play a role in your life through many applications. Essential oils are the volatile, aromatic, non-water soluble liquids obtained by steam or water distillation of plant parts. Most essential oils are primarily composed of terpenes and their oxygenated derivatives.  Different parts of the plants can be used to obtain essential oils, including the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, stems, bark, wood, etc. An essential oil may contain up to several hundred chemical compounds and this complex mixture of compounds gives the oil its characteristic fragrance and flavor.

The chemistry of essential oils is influenced by the local geography and weather conditions, as well as the season and time of day when the plants are harvested, how they are processed, and how they are packaged and stored. Each plant is unique in its chemistry so essential oils are never exactly the same-this is different from pharmaceutical drugs that are synthetically reproduced to be identical every time.

How are essential oils used today?

The global essential oil market size exceeded USD 6.0 billion in 2015. Growing consumer preference for natural products has led to the development of innovative applications in personal care and beauty products. Essential oils have a huge application in many different fields. The global market is expected to reach USD 11.67 billion by 2022, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. Growing consumer awareness regarding heath benefits associated with natural and organic personal care products is expected to remain a key driving factor for global essential oil market over the forecast period.

Essential oil are used in a lage scale and I will only briefly comment on:

  • Flavor industries
  • Personal care
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Industrial

Flavor industries

The market for natural flavors has grown tremendously over the past couple of years due to increase awareness of health coupled with emerging middle class across the globe. The industry can be characterized as highly technical, specialized, and innovative. Flavors are used in food and beverages in order to enhance the taste, quality and preservation of the products. Thousands of natural volatile compounds make up the flavors and aromas of the food products and beverages that we use in our day to day life.  In tobacco industry they are used as flavoring and as fixatives and in pharmaceutical industry among other things as  flavoring.

Personal care

In personal care essential oils are used in cosmetics and toiletries, dental and household products and are used for a very wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used as a single oil at a time or in complex blends in one of three methods: Aromatic, Topical, and Internal. Click here to find more about how to use essential oils

Pharmaceutical

Aromatic plants has been used since ancient times for their preservative and medicinal properties, and to impart aroma and flavor to food. Hippocrates, sometimes referred to as the ‘father of medicine’, prescribed perfume fumigations. The pharmaceutical properties of aromatic plants are partially attributed to essential oils. The term ‘essential oil’ was used for the first time in the 16th century by Paracelsus von Hohenheim, who named the effective component of a drug, ‘Quinta essential’ (Guenther,1950).

Why is it so important to find new treatment options? In medicine the dangers of prescription drugs are intrinsic to the drugs themselves, not in how they are administered. No matter how careful the physician in prescribing and how compliant the patient in following doctor’s orders, even then deaths and damages occur. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 100,000 Americans die every year, not from illegal drugs, not from drug overdoses, not from over-the-counter drugs, and not from drug abuses, but from properly prescribed, properly taken prescriptions. In U.S. , more people die from doctor’s prescriptions every ten days than were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks (se JAMA. 1998;279(15):1200–1205  and New Prescription Drugs: A Major Health Risk With Few Offsetting Advantages, Harvard University).

Se also: The History of Chemotherapy (a controversial history of how chemotherapy has evolved )

Today essential oils and their volatile constituents are used widely to prevent and treat human disease. Among the main therapeutic properties of essential oils antiseptics stands out (for many years these spices have been added to foodstuffs not just for flavouring but to help preserve them).

There are a lot of ongoing scientific studies looking at the possible role and mode of action of these natural products with regard to the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis and thrombosis, as well as their bioactivity as antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidants and antidiabetic agents.

Industrial

In industry essential oils are used in pesticides (sprays, repellents, attractants), in motor industry (polishes, cleaners, deodorants), paper and print industry (crayons, inks, labels, wrappers, paper), rubber and plastic industry (deodorants, rubber and plastic), textile industry (deodorants, upholstery materials, finishing materials) and paints and adhesive industry (cleaners and air fresheners).

Final conclusions

As you understand there are a huge industry and fast-growing knowledge about new applications of essential oils. If you want to try essential oils for personal use it’s very important to buy oils that are pure and not manipulated in any way.  There are several serious and good companies selling oils. Personally, I use doTerra I find their products to be of good and high quality. Click here for doTerra

 

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About the Author Kjell H Kjellevold

A doctor and specialist in pathology. He has always been concerned about health and how to manage a good and healthy lifestyle. The blog will mainly be about the use of essential oils, health, and training.

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