1. Essential oils aren’t really oils
There are in fact two different kinds of oils: fixed and volatile. If you zoom in and look at the molecules of “fixed oils” like almond oil or coconut oil are made up of long, heavy fatty acid chains – so heavy that they don’t evaporate easily. Essential oils, on other other hand, are more volatile – they have tiny molecules that contain the fragrance, or essence of a plant, which allows them to easily evaporate and be quickly absorbed.
2. Some essential oils can kill you
While most essential oils Don’t cause lasting damage if used externally, especially if they’re diluted, some highly toxic oils taken internally can be extremely dangerous, and for some there are no antidotes. One example is pennyroyal, a member of the mint family. It has been used in folk medicine to help induce menstruation, but a half ounce dose taken by a young woman trying to abort a fetus proved to be fatal. Other highly toxic oils when taken internally include camphor, tansy, wormwood, and wintergreen.
3. Clary Sage Intoxication
Clary sage oil is known for its calming and sedative capabilities, but be careful when mixing it with alcohol. Clary sage will actually amplify the intoxicating effect of alcohol, giving you a higher high and a lower low. In the past, old German merchants would mix clary sage into their wine to give it that calming, floral note that mimicked a good Muscatel wine, which gave clary sage its German name: muscatel sage.
4. Essential Oils Can Affect Your Mood
Essential oils have the power to affect your mood, and we’re not talking about just the placebo effect. When inhaled, the essential oil’s molecules travel through your nose and into your olfactory system, which then are quickly absorbed into your body.
This is actually one of the fastest ways our bodies assimilate chemicals. Once the molecules are absorbed, they begin to communicate with your limbic system – the part of your brain responsible for emotion, motivation, learning, behavior, and memory. Certain types of chemicals can stimulate different responses, such as confidence, romance, relaxation, or focus. Doctors practicing medicine in the 18th century knew about this process and would suggest sniffing opium to treat nervous conditions for this very reason, although we suggest a whiff of lavender and chamomile to calm you down instead.
5. Dandelion May Not Help Your Grass, But it can do wonders for your skin and digestion.
Yep, those pesky weeds ruining your lawn actually have been distilled and bottled to treat skin issues and help with digestion. Other weird essential oils out there include tomato leaf, tobacco, clover, and even arctic stinkweed. Essential oils can actually be extracted from most plants, but the usefulness and safety of these oils varies widely. The most healing and potent oils are the ones that are sold on health store shelves and have been harvested and purified to give you the highest and safest quality available.
6. Lavender – the superhealer that started it all.
Lavender is the most popularly used essential oil, and for good reason. It can be used as a sedative, an immune booster, an antibacterial, an anti-inflammatory, or an antispasmodic. The best part, however, is that it is effective while being mild – it’s very difficult to overdose, and gentle when misused. When writing the pivotal book “Aromatherapie” in 1928, French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefossé was researching in his laboratory when a small explosion burned his hand. Quickly, he immersed his hand in the nearest container of liquid, which happened to be a large amount of lavender essential oil. To his surprise, his burn healed quickly with no scarring or infection. He wrote his observations in his book and caught the attention of many medical practitioners, and thus began the modern day aromatherapy movement.
7. The Bible has a recipe for an essential oil blend.
The Bible mentions essential oils almost 200 times. While the distilling process we use today gives us more concentrated oils than were used at that time, God revealed to Moses a recipe for a Holy Anointing oil in Exodus 30:22 that included myrrh, calamus, cinnamon, and olive oil. This oil was considered sacred and was used to anoint the priests that worked in the temple.
8. Some plants can produce two or more essential oils
Essential oils can be extracted from the roots, the stems, the fruits, the leaves, the flowers, or the bark of plants, and sometimes from more than one part. One example of this is the orange tree: petitgrain essential oil is extracted from the leaves, neroli from the blossoms, and orange from the peel of the fruit.
9. Essential Oils Have been used medicinally for thousands of years
For thousands of years essential oils were used usually ground, mashed, steamed or preserved still intact with their plant form. However, if you lived in Persia in the early eleventh century, you would have known about a man by the name of Avicenna, a literary, mathematical, and medicinal genius. Much like Leonardo DaVinci in his ability to master and understand many different areas of study, Avicenna turned some of his expertise towards chemistry. Avicenna saw the potential of essential oils, and invented steam distillery, which allowed us to extract much more concentrated forms of essential oils for using medicinally. He also wrote several books about treating people medicinally, and began what would be the formation of our modern day aromatherapy.
10. One drop of oil can pack a powerful punch
Fruits, flowers, leaves, and roots are all made up of different materials, and a lot of that is water and fiber. Each plant contains only a small amount of essential oil. One drop of lemon essential oil contains an entire lemon. In one drop of peppermint you get the same amount as 28 cups of peppermint tea. One drop of rose oil is the same as 25 roses, and 63 pounds of lemon balm to make one 5mL bottle of Melissa oil. Just imagine smelling an entire bushel of lemons, a large bouquet of roses, or a large bathtub of lemon balm, all in one little bottle. That’s what makes an essential oil so potent!