What is an Organic or Wild Crafted Essential Oil?

Posted on: September 7th, 2009 by
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Essential oils are marketed as ‘pure’ essential oils, so what is an organic or wild crafted essential oil? What is the difference between a ‘pure’ essential oil and an ‘organic’ essential oil?

Its not something I originally gave much thought too as I was taught essential oils should be pure. So a ‘pure’ essential oil is ‘organic’ isn’t it?

Well, not exactly. Although ‘pure’ essential oils are ‘pure’ in the fact that they are 100% obtained from plant material and not synthetically made, it depends on how the original plant is grown and farmed to earn a label of ‘pure’, ‘organic’ or ‘wild crafted’. ‘Pure’ essential oils may have actually been treated with pesticides in the farming process and although it is argued that only a miniscule amount (if any) is transferred through the distilling process of an ‘pure ‘essential oil, it is not an ‘organic’ or ‘wild crafted’ essential oil.

An ‘organic’ essential oil has to meet strict guidelines which ensure the plant material has been grown and farmed organically; this has to meet the growing country’s criteria for organic farming. A farmer has to be certified as an organic farmer to be able to produce plants which will distill organic essential oils. Consequently, ‘organic’ essential oils are usually more expensive than ‘pure’ essential oils as they are more costly to produce, distill and market.

‘Wild crafted’ essential oils are obtained from sources of wild crafted plants; this may happen naturally, or can be cultivated, if the plants and farming methods again meet certain critieria.

There may be times when there is overlap between ‘pure’, ‘organic’ or ‘wild crafted’ essential oils; for example, some plants don’t need pesticides or fertilizers to produce essential oils and are, by their very nature, naturally ‘organic’ or ‘wild crafted’.

As the essential oil business is often a large, commercialized machine it is, again, important to know who your essential oil supplier is and where they obtain their essential oils from; knowing how their essential oils are distilled, farmed and by what methods in which countries, will make you more knowledgeable about whether your essential oil is ‘pure’, organic’ or ‘wildcrafted’.

It has made me re-think too more about what the essential oil actually is that I am buying, in my search for reputable and quality essential oil suppliers in the USA! I think that it is also making me a knowledgeable aromatherapist in the process!

If you have any thoughts or additional comments on pure, organic or wild crafted essential oils please post comment at the end of this post!

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Essential Oils for Skincare

Posted on: September 3rd, 2009 by
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As discussed in my previous post, Historical Use of Aromatherapy in Skincare, many ancient civilizations, including the ancient Egyptians used plants for cosmetic and skin care needs. It was perhaps not in the form of essential oils as we know them today, but many of the plants and flowers which we use in skin care today were , in fact, used; examples include rose, lavender and myrtle.

Essential oils access the body in a number of ways, including absorption through the skin. That is why it is important to know the chemical components of an essential oil and know what to use it for, as your body will absorb the essential oils applied to it. However, as essential oils are usually recommended for dilution in a carrier oil first, the amount is usually minute, but still effective, meaning knowledge of the particular essential oil you are using is important.

Your skin will react in different ways to an essential oil depending on a number of factors. These include:

  • your age
  • stress
  • exercise
  • diet
  • lifestyle
  • the environment
  • health.

Depending on your skin type, here’s a few recommendations of essential oils for different types of skin:

  • dry skin - dry skin needs moisture; dry skin may be sensitive too so gentle essential oils are recommended such as rose, lavender, roman chamomile, sandalwood and patchouli. Good carrier oils for dry skin include avocado, hazelnut and evening primrose.
  • mature skin - to stimulate cell growth and to treat wrinkles, mature skin benefits from the essential oils of frankincense, palmarosa, clary sage, lavender and neroli; borage, wheatgerm and vitamin E bases are good carriers for mature skin.
  • oily skin – oily skin results in congestion and spots; the PH balance of oily skin can be re-balanced by using the essential oils of geranium, tea tree, cedarwood and lemon or any other essential oil which has astringent or antiseptic properties. Jojoba and apricot kernel are good carrier oils to use as they are light and easily absorbed.

These are just a few of my suggestions for essential oils for skincare; there are many books on the subject, all with a number of aromatherapy recipes for you to try. The only way to know for sure if a blend is going to work for you is to experiment and try a few different essential oil blends before finding an aromatherapy blend for skincare which truly works for you!

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Yarrow Essential Oil

Posted on: September 2nd, 2009 by
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Yarrow Essential Oil
Yarrow Essential Oil

Yarrow Essential Oil

 Yarrow is an essential oil which is chemically composed in a similar way to a couple of the chamomile oils. It is said to have gained its latin name, Achillea, from the Greek warrior Achilles.

It has a number of uses and properties in aromatherapy; read Yarrow Essential Oil to learn more….

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The Historical Use of Aromatherapy in Skincare

Posted on: August 26th, 2009 by
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More and more people are becoming allergic or extremely sensitive to the chemicals found in brand name perfumes and skin care products. Before discovering aromatherapy and beginning to work with essential oils, I commonly used synthetic perfumes and brand name skin care products because I didn’t understand what the actual ingredients of these perfumes were.Now, I can’t be in the vicinity of a synthetic perfume without having an adverse reaction to it! And I have slowly changed my skin care routine to include only products I have made with pure essential oils.

Although essential oils, as we know them today, weren’t around hundreds of years ago, a form of ‘aromatherapy’ was; people used natural plants and oils from plants for cosmetic purposes.

Since historic times, many ancient civilizations have used natural plants and oils in their skin care routines. The Romans were famous for adding lavender to the Roman baths; the Romans also thought highly of rose too. On a trip to the ancient city of Pompeii in Italy last summer, I was fascinated to discover that excavations of Pompeii have unearthed proof that many Pompeiians both grew and used many flowers and herbs for culinary and cosmetic purposes; these plants are ones which we are familiar with today and include rose, lily, laurel, fennel, myrtle and myrrh.

Another important figure from history – this time French history – is Marie Antoinette of France (1755 – 1793) who used many natural perfumes and oils in her skin care routine; Marie Antoinette had her own personal perfumer to make her natural scents and lotions on a whim. In fact, it is said that Marie Antoinette’s obsession with her perfumes and lotions may have cost her her life; the delay in preparations for fleeing France was due to Marie Antoinette’s toilette preparations, which made those no longer loyal to the Queen suspicious of her intentions. Marie Antoinette was eventually captured and sent to the guillotine.

For more information, read my articles The Perfumes of Marie Antoinette and The Ancient Perfumes of Pompeii.

If you are really interested in Marie Antoinette of France and, in particular her use of perfumes, I highly recommend reading A Scented Palace by Elisabeth de Feydeau 2007 I.B. Tauris and Co. Ltd (UK and USA).

For more on the ancient perfumes of Pompeii I highly recommend Perfumes, Unguents and Hairstyles in Pompeii (Profumi, ungenti e acconciature in pompei antica) by Carlo Giordano, Angelandrea Casale 2nd edition Bardi Editore Roma, Italia.

If you have any thoughts or comments on the historical use of aromatherapy in skin care please post a comment!

Next time, I’ll discuss essential oils suitable for skincare…

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Essential Oils Not Recommended for Aromatherapy Use

Posted on: August 22nd, 2009 by
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This subject area is quite complex, so much so, that it became too long for a blog post and I wrote a complete article on it!
Essential oils which are ‘safe’ and essential oils which are not ‘safe’ is always an area of discussion in aromatherapy; but if you look at the chemical content of some essential oils you will realize, from their chemistry, that they really are not suitable for therapeutic practice in aromatherapy.
To learn more read Essential Oils Not Suitable for Aromatherapy Use
You may also wish to read the related articles of Essential Oils for Baby and Phototoxic Essential Oils
If you have any comments on any of these essential oils or have more to add to the list please leave a comment or contact me!

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The Importance of Latin Names in Identifying an Essential Oil

Posted on: August 20th, 2009 by
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Cranesbill is not where geranium essential oil comes from
There are many species of lavender

There is often confusion between the the identification of some essential oils and their uses for therapeutic purposes in aromatherapy. The misunderstanding often arises because people often use the common english name of a plant and not the botanical latin name. The following plants are often confused:
Reading these individual articles will give you some idea of the confusion between these various plants. These common misunderstandings should remind us that when identifying an essential oil for a particular purpose, we should learn the latin name (ie the botanical name) of the plant. Not only do plants/essential oils get mistaken for other species/varieties by using english names but there are many different varieties of a plant species.
Lavender is probably one of the most well known and popular essential oils – but there are many species of lavender. Not only that, but depending on the growing season and region, the same lavender species may produce a slightly different chemical composition than the previous year. Lavender essential oils include the following varieties:
Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis - common/true lavender
Lavendula x intermedia - lavandin
Lavendula latifolia - spike lavender
Lavandula stoechas -different to the above 3 lavender varieties in that it is high in ketones and not in common usage in aromatherapy.
With the exception of Lavendula stoechas , all of these lavender plants look similar but their chemical composition varies slightly – they have common aromatherapy uses but this may not be the case with every species of plant. In addition, you often see lavender essential oils marketed as Bulgarian or French or English lavender; this gives you a clue as to which country the distilled lavender essential oil came from but you still need to check the chemical composition to make sure it is typical of -
a) other lavender essential oils
b) will work therapeutically for what you intend to use it for.
This is just an example of the complexities surrounding english and latin botanical names for plants and essential oils; there are also some essential oils which should never be used for aromatherapy purposes. That’s coming up next….

 

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