is an essential oil ?
suddenly thought to myself well what is essential oil? A lot of
people confuse themselves by thinking it’s only for diffusion
in a room; this is only part of its use and certainly not its
predominant function. Essential oils are found in cosmetic skin
care, perfumes, aroma therapy and diffusers. So heres a little
bit about them and their origin and uses.
essential oil is any concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing
volatile aroma compounds from plants, which are called aromatic
herbs or aromatic plants. Let me explain what hydrophobic means
to those of you who think it’s too complicated to carry
on reading. In chemistry, hydrophobic which means the combining
form of water in Attic Greek hydro- and for fear Phobos, refers
to the physical property of a molecule which is named hydrophobe
that is repelled from a mass of water. Interesting isn't it so
I'll carry on, Hydrophobic molecules tend to be non-polar (non
magnetic for the rest of us) and thus prefer other neutral molecules
and no polar solvents. Hydrophobic molecules in water often cluster
together forming a group scientifically called a micelle. When
water comes into contact with a hydrophobic surface the entry
must be of a high contact angle, sounds like we're ready for take
off, I don't work for NASA...yet :) Examples of hydrophobic molecules
include the alkanes, oils, fats, and greasy substances in general.
Hydrophobic materials are used for oil removal from water, the
management of oil spills, such as The Tory canyon a horrible childhood
memory of mine, and chemical separation processes to remove non-polar
from polar compounds.
complicated doesn't it but it’s actually quite a simple
process : Essentials oils are also known as volatile or ethereal
oils, or simply as the "oil of" the plant material from
which they were extracted, such as oil of the Eucalyptus. Oil
is "essential" in the sense that it carries a distinctive
scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils don't possess
any specific chemical properties, apart from the fact that each
essential oil has its own characteristic fragrance. People some
times mix up essential oils with essential fatty acids, I don't
quite know how as they are two totally different things with totally
oils are generally extracted by distillation. Other processes
include expression, or solvent extraction to make "Absolut".
They are used in perfumes, cosmetics and bath products like shower
gels or bath creams, for flavouring food and drink, and for scenting
incense and household cleaning products. We don't produce this
form of oil.
essential oils have been used medicinally at different periods
history of Aromatherapy dates back at least to 4000 BC, although
the term “aromatherapy” was first used in the 1920s
by the French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé who
accidentally discovered in his laboratory that lavender oil relives
pain and assists minor burns in healing. The word “Aromatherapy”
is a compound Greek word made up by the word fragrance, aroma
and the word treatment, therapy. It is historically proved that
the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Persians used aromatherapy
oils. Moreover, there is historical evidence in the Bible, back
to Sunday school here folks, when Jesus Christ was born the three
wise men bore gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, and if you've
never smelt Myrrh then get a grip because it really smells awful
but is reputed for its virtues as an anti septic, an anti inflammatory
and an analgesic.
ancient Egypt, plant oils were widely used for cosmetics, spiritual
relaxation, as well as for embalming and mummification of their
dead. They also played a part in rituals on special occasions
as men and women would wear on their heads a gradually-melting
solid cone made with essential oils that released its fragrance
as it melted. As a consequence of the Egyptians’ love for
aromatic plants and herbs, and the importance of appearance, the
fragrance industry and aromatic medicine were developed more than
in any other ancient culture.
history of Aromatherapy leads us to Ancient Greeks who actually
borrowed many healing and relaxation techniques from the Egyptians.
They used herbs and aromatherapy oils for medicines and cosmetics.
Asclepius (circa 1200 BC) is the first known physician in history
who experimented with herbs and plants in his surgeries. Hypocrites
(circa 400 BC), “the father of medicine”, studied
the beneficial effects of hundreds of scented plants and herbs.
He believed that good health can be promoted with aromatic baths
and oil massage and therefore surgeries should be avoided when
possible. Well I can agree with that, we all feel better and more
Zen after a massage with essential oils. Other Greek physicians
who dealt with herbs and aromatic oils are Pedacius Dioscorides
and Theophrastus who prescribed herbal and aromatic remedies.
The Romans developed the Egyptian and Greek techniques for distillation
and extraction of aromatic floral waters taking advantage of their
knowledge of the natural medicines. The most well-known physician
of that age was the Greek Claudius Galen (circa 150 AD) who after
studying herbal medicine and treating hundreds of wounded gladiators
with botanical remedies; he became the personal physician of the
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
next important step in the history of Aromatherapy was made by
the Persian civilization. Ibn Sina, a great physician of the age,
known in Europe as Avicenna (circa 1000 AC), invented a pipe which
steam distilled the plants and produced true essential oils and
not aromatic waters as in the past. Essential oil distilling has
just been perfected.
The Crusaders returned from the Holy Places, and brought back
many different oils, many aromatics, herbal remedies and scented
plants from the Middle East which became well known to Europe.
The initiation of plants healing different ailments had started.
However, in the medieval era the Catholic Church rejected the
aromatherapy remedies, because of their belief that every disease
is a punishment sent by God. When Men don't understand something
they erase it.... Although with the out break of the Black Death
they tried to find a remedy for it but to no avail.
Marco Polo discovering the East, the trading merchants brought
to Europe new aromatherapy remedies and a rich variety of exotic
plants and herbs. In Europe, many wealthy people used aromatic
handkerchiefs to avoid unpleasant smells, let’s not forget
that the drainage systems were non existent, phew… and protect
themselves from microbes. Moreover essential oils were used in
fumigation of hospitals with great success. At the same period
of the history of Aromatherapy, physicians, pharmacists and chemists
used to distillate more plants to create essentials oils and many
of them published books about aromatic remedies and the use of
aromatherapy essential oils for relaxation and pharmaceutical
As years went by, “apothecaries” who were herbalists
and medical practitioners engaged in the formulation and prescription
of pharmaceutical remedies, started to sell herbs, essential oils
and fragrances. However what began in the East over 4000years
ago was becoming industrialised in Europe, which provided oils
for the pharmaceuticals, flavour for the food industry and fragrance
in essential oils has revived in recent decades, with the popularity
of aromatherapy, (AROMA/An aroma compound, also known as odorant,
aroma, fragrance, flavour, is a chemical compound that has a smell
or odour and when two conditions are met: the compound needs to
be volatile, so it can be transported to the olfactory system
in the upper part of the nose, and it needs to be in a high concentrate
to be able to interact with one or more of the olfactory receptors.
a branch of alternative medicine which claims that the specific
aromas carried by essential oils have curative effects. Oils are
volatilized or diluted in carrier oil and used in massage, or
burned as incense, for example. Aromatherapy has been developed
on a larger scale over these last few years.
back to essential oils and its Medical applications proposed by
those who sell ranges of medicinal oils from skin treatments to
remedies for cancer, I disagree with those who proclaim this as
there are no medical papers confirming this statement. Whereas
I know that Helichrisum can regenerate the liver cells I WOULD
NOT state that it can cure a cancer and give false hope to someone
that is psychologically feeble and whose body is "tired».
Such claims are now subject to regulation in most countries, thank
history of Aromatherapy continues during the 20th century, when
many aroma therapists contributed their knowledge to aromatherapy
and created more natural products and more effective and pleasurable
techniques. As mentioned before, the French chemist René
Maurice Gattefossé was the first to introduce the term
“aromatherapy” in 1928.One of his follower an army
doctor called Jean Valnet treated very successfully gangrene war
wounds during the Second World War. An Austrian biochemist, Marguerite
Maury, used essential oils as an integral part of healing by massage
and practiced the use of aromatherapy for cosmetic benefits. The
results and techniques experimented by Valnet, Maury and her co-researcher
Micheline Arcier’s are considered as the basis of modern
aromatherapy that today is taught all over the world.
first book in the history of Aromatherapy published in the English
language was the “Art of Aromatherapy” written by
the English aromatherapist Robert B. Tisserand in 1977.
Another classic book dedicated to medicinal herbs is “Health
through God’s Pharmacy”. Its author, the Austrian
Herbalist Maria Treben, claimed that “There is a plant for
conclusion on this is really that they knew more than us 4000
years ago, we still don’t know a quarter of what our elders
knew, even if we have modern techniques. All that we've done is
to take their knowledge and worked from it, should we really take
credit for that ?
Helichrysum Italicum is so rare & special.
are over 500 different species of Helichrysum (Asteraceae) this
daisy type flower. Some of which, like the Helichrysum Italicum,
are unique to certain parts of the globe.
is so special because it treats cosmetic as well as medical problems.
It can treat age spots to sports injuries. It is known for its
anti bacterial qualities and its tissue healing properties, tests
have been carried out at the hospital in Grasse, France where
they used Helichrysum Italium to close skin tissue, the result
has been absolutely amazing as a very quick heal and with very
little scarring, no redness and no infections. It multiplies the
natural collagen count present in our skin cells and diminishes
wrinkles and creases with a high percentage of success. It is
also combined with other oils and used to treat acne, there are
different remedies based on the Helichrysum Italicum on the remedies
page. There you will see the spectrum of aliments that can be
treated with this oil. It acts on the skin, on muscles and joints
and on the nervous system; there are not many essential oils with
this vast healing power. In fact I now call Helichrysum Italicum
“liquid gold”, as it is so precious.
is it rare?
of its chemical composition, which I will explain a little later
on, and this factor makes it unique. But also the soil composition
and climate contribute enormously to its chemical composition.
In fact the climate factor and the soil composition can modify
the Neryl Acetate % which can cause the overall price to rise
or to drop.
confirmed to me on one of my “many questioning calls”
to the different distillers the main harvesting of Helichysum
Italicum takes place in June as the level of Neryl Acetate is
at its peak then but also at the end of Autumn October and November
with an harvest twice a year!!
Helichrysum Italicum is also found in the region of Sartene situated
in the valley of Ortolo which is full of history and dotted with
Menhirs, Dolmens and Grottos which sheltered man during the Megalithic
era. At the present time this region harbours numerous agricultural
and poly cultural exploitations, working the land in an ecologic
Italicum can be found all over the island its fragrant aroma contributes
to the smells of the Maquis this sweet scented honey fragrance
mingles with Rosemary, Ciste, Pin Larrico and other odours making
the perfume of the Maquis unique to Corsica.
well known comment from Napoleon who said he could “smell
his island before sighting it". And indeed I can vouch for
that, there have been times when arriving by ferry you can catch
a whiff of “something” which makes you feel happy.
Sounds a bit corny but should you have the occasion to go to Corsica,
go by ferry from the mainland during the middle to late June and
beginning of July. It certainly worth it.
From the valley of Ortolo to the heights of Balagna or the sea
shore of the Balkans mountains the Helichrysum Italicum is present;
it’s discreet but a very distinct floral perfume with a
hint of honey hidden behind the first inhalation of its smell.
The plant has adapted to the intense heat and light which is dominant
in the month of June for Corsica and even in the Autumn outside
subtle olfactory smell produced by Helichrysum Italicum connects
us to the Earth and lets our minds drift into conciliate with
inner emotions and ourselves by odour. This is why Helichrysum
Italicum is is quite simply the best of essential oils with a
multi functional healing of unequalled quality.
TO SELECT AN ESSENTIAL OIL.
a lot of interesting points in how to select a good essential
oil, trying to recognize quality with a whiff of a sample.
In the case of Helichrysum Italicum which is a rare and a
sought after essential oil, most people buy year after year
with the same supplier therefore ensuring their supply for
the following year. There is never enough Helichrysum Italicum
to go around ,
I feel that if you are too fussy some people will refuse the
sale, especially with the Helichrysum as there is always someone
who wants more.
Even if you go straight to the grower / distiller they may
not be testing their oils. Those that do test most certainly
aren't looking for unwanted phthalates, very few look for
pesticides or herbicides.
Most distillers in Europe know what the chemical composition
should look like and have their oils tested by laboratories
for its chemical analysis. Concerning the Helichrysum Italicum
this is compulsory in order to see the level of Neryl Acetates.
I would suggest that you be more careful outside Europe, but
most do now supply relevant data on their oils.
The oil we supply is only Helichrysum Italicum; we chose not
to stray from the oil we know best.