Taken From: Aromatherapy Pocketbook~ By: Kendra Grace
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are very volatile substances produced from botanical sources. They are the concentrates of aromatic molecules or a plant or its parts; they can be considered the hormones of the plant, as they seem to control certain functions of plant life, including the temperature and the immune system. Essential Oils are also similar to a hormone in that they can stimulate or slow down biological function of cell metabolism. Many people think of essential oils as the "spirit" of the plant.
What Does The Word Botanical mean?
Botanical is a frequently misused word that, when applied correctly, means "from plant origin" . A true botanical oil has not been created by synthesis in a laboratory, but has been distilled or extracted from the plant, or its parts.
What Are Essential Oils Made Of?
Essential oils ( EO's ) are compositions made of the basic organic elements : carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, forming alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, oxides, phenols, and terpenes. An Eo can contain between 10 and 200 components and other trace compounds that are very difficult to analyze. Each EO has more or less complex composition. Some are very simple, as in the case of sandalwood: containing 95%of one compound - an alcohol called santalol- and 5 % of combines composition.
EO's form very interesting and specific molecules that react against such microorganisms as bacteria and viruses. Such molecules can sometimes form a vitamin composition or a hormone type chemical.
Are Synthetic Oils Chemically the same as Botanical Oils?
There are chemists who like to proclaim that synthetic and botanical oils are chemically the same; however, the botanical oils have been proven by experience over thousands of years to have therapeutic or healing properties. The same cannot be said about the synthetic oils. In fact, the opposite is true. (Jean Alnet, M.D., The Practice Of Aromatherapy, P27)
It is my belief that the oils from a plant that grew out of soil under sunshine and rain has an extremely different action to communicate to the human body than an oil born of laboratory synthesis. The action is unique to a botanical oil because its balance formed out of a holistic situation.
Since our bodies are natural living organisms, it makes sense that the extract from another natural living organism would have a more harmonious and efficient interactions than it would with a synthetic compound existing under no living matrix. Can we create ocean water in the lab to be the same as the ocean?
Synthetic oils may be too "pure" too simple a composition, and not able enough to perform the same complex functions as botanical oils. One may say that trace elements aren't important ans that they make a composition "impure"; however, it is known that if humans occupying the space shuttle mission were away from the Earth long enough, surviving solely on synthetic compounds, then trace elements would become indispensable to sustain their lives.
Why do aromatherapists speak of EO's having life force? I think that perhaps the minute and difficult to analyze trace elements may hold that part of the compositions that pertains to to what we call life force. Our systems can "recognize" and respond to the living balance ( the natural signals) of the botanical oils. One of the important revelations od the rediscovery of aromatherapy is the memory of EO's as life giving substances, which has been lost to the West since the industrial revolution.