What are Essential Oils
Essential oils are the natural, aromatic volatile liquids found in shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds. The distinctive components in essential oils defend plants against insects, environmental conditions, and disease. They are also vital for a plant to grow, live, evolve, and adapt to its surroundings. Essential oils are extracted from aromatic plant sources via steam distillation, and are highly concentrated, far more potent than dry herbs. Although there may be similarities between the properties of a herb and its essential oil, the action of the essential oil is always more dramatic and immediate. While essential oils often have a pleasant aroma, their chemical makeup is complex and their benefits vast—which makes them much more than something that simply smells good.
Only certain plants contain essential oils, they are known as the aromatic plants. The essential oil is formed in very small structures in the leaves, flowers, or other parts of the plant, known as secretory cells (see photo for a beautiful magnified view). Sometimes these protrude from the surface of the plant, as seen in the photo. The process of essential oil creation is complex, involving many enzymes within the plant. Each one of a hundred or more natural chemicals needs to be "manufactured" by the plant to maintain the health of the plant.
Why this is so complex is not clear, but many of the single chemicals essential oils contain are used as odorous communication signals, either between insects (which can also produce the same chemicals) or between plants and insects - to either attract or deter. When seen in the context of evolution, essential oils are a means of communication – they carry meaning. Thus, an essential oil is sometimes referred to as the 'essence' of a plant, the 'life blood', or the 'living energy' of a plant.
Both the quantity and the composition of an essential oil are constantly changing within the plant – the time of day, time of year, maturity of plant, weather, soil health, and many other factors determine the quantity and quality of a plants essential oil. Consequently there are optimum seasons, and times of day, to harvest a plant for its valuable essential oil - meaning when these are not followed you end up with an essential oil that has far fewer benefits. All of these factors and more, play a significant part in quality - it is the quality of an essential oil which determines how it can be used and whether it contains the beneficial properties we desire for our wellness.
Proper distillation plays an important role too. Some companies distill their plants using high heat and chemicals to speed the distillation process and to extract as much essential oil out of the plant material as possible. An analogy might be like when a butterfly is emerging from its cocoon, which can take hours, and due to our impatience or thinking that we are helping when it is held in our hands to warm we speed the process. Thus, the butterfly looses much of what is necessary for life and will ultimately die as a result - some things must happen more slowly for a reason, preservation of quality for life. So like the butterfly great care must be taken in the distillation of a pure essential oil, so that the 'life-force' of the beneficial compounds stay in tact.
Young Living uses a low temperature steam heat, longer lengths of time, and no chemicals to speed the process. What this means for us is that we now have essential oils that are super pure, completely natural, organic, and 100% free of any type of adulteration. This allows us to use Young Living oils in many more ways than competitors.
Historically, essential oils have played a prominent role in everyday life. With more than 200 references to aromatics, incense, and ointments throughout the Bible, essential oils are said to be used for anointing and healing the sick.
Today, pure natural therapeutic-grade essential oils are used for:
- massage therapy
- emotional health
- personal care
- nutritional supplements
- household solutions
- and much more.
Once a therapeutic-grade essential oil is applied to the body, whether by inhalation, ingestion, or topical application to the skin, the essential oil enters the bloodstream. The essential oil is then metabolized and chemically changed quite rapidly, but during this period a multitude of therapeutic effects are possible. Some of these are due to constituents before they are metabolized, and some are due to metabolites – new chemicals formed in the body. The essential oil constituents often work synergistically, unlike 'isolated' compounds. These compounds act in a variety of ways, such as interacting with receptor sites on the surface of human cells. The menthol, in peppermint oil, for example, lowers blood pressure marginally by altering the way calcium is exchanged at the surface of blood vessel cells.
Each constituent in an essential oil is metabolised and excreted separately, a process which can take up to 24 hours. With the help of human enzymes, the constituents are chemically changed to make sure they do not cause any toxicity, and also to make them more water-soluble. This is due to the evolution of humans and plants evolving together, our bodies know how to process these pure essences from the plants - unlike chemical and synthetically made substances and fragrances, which our bodies do not recognize at all and do not know how to process - this is one reason why so many people have chemical sensitivities to manmade substances and fragrances.
Another way in which essential oils operate is by interacting with the cells of the 'olfactory' system, where upon reaching a membrane inside and at the very top of the nose after inhalation. The interaction of natural fragrant molecules on the olfactory membrane initiates a nerve signal that can quickly trigger various parts of the brain to respond - invoking a memory, a feeling, calming, alertness, reduced anxiety, or simply the perception of a scent.
Young Living Essential Oils, the leading provider of essential oils in the world, offers more than 300 essential oil singles, blends and essential oil based products. All of Young Living essential oils meet the Young Living Therapeutic Grade™ (YLTG) standard. This means that every essential oil Young Living distills, or sources, has the optimal naturally-occurring blend of constituents to maximize the desired effect.
Note: Only YLTGª (Young Living Therapeutic-grade ) essential oils should be used for the primary methods of application, which include inhalation, topical application, and internal use.
Today, using gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS) analysis, the phytochemical profile of every batch of Young Living essential oils is measured to evaluate each specific plant compound. Certain plant compounds must meet or exceed specific levels to ensure the essential oil is natural, pure, and meets Young Living therapeutic-grade standards (learn more about quality ). Only then does Young Living guarantee the oil will provide the desired results and label it Young Living Therapeutic Grade™ (YLTG).
Young Living essential oils are:
- 100% pure
- Sourced only from known botanical species
- Sustainably grown and harvested
- Grown on chemical-free lands in carefully nourished soil (organic)
- Unmatched throughout the essential oils industry
- So pure and natural, they're used and recommended by integrative health professionals around the world