Core Class 4: Fundamentals of Essential Oils

Essential Oils and the Human Body

You may be surprised to know that plant essential oils share many important properties with human blood which makes them relate well to functions in the human body. For example both essential oils and blood can fight infection in the body, contain hormone-like compounds and initiate cell and tissue regeneration.

The organic molecular compounds in essential oils are created by a plant as a defense mechanism and their antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties are just as beneficial to people as they are to the plant.

Clary Sage Essential OilAdditionally, many chemical constituents of essential oils mimic hormones in structure and function and can be used in the body to restore hormonal balance. For example, the sage oils contain a compound called sclerol, which is estrogenous and can provide similar benefits as a synthesized estrogen in the body. Essential Oils that mimic hormones in this way do not create an imbalance, but act only as a buffer that returns the body to hormonal stasis.

The lipid chemical structure of essential oils is also found in the building blocks of human cells and tissues. The lipid-soluble structure and relatively small molecular size of essential oils allows them to be absorbed into our cells, travel quickly through the body, and can even pass through the blood-brain barrier. A fun way to test this is to put a small amount of a strong tasting essential oil on the soles of your feet and observe how quickly you find that flavor in your mouth.

Oils and Soils: How Plants Form Essential Oils

It all starts in the ground. The uptake of nutrients in the soil enables the plant to form the amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. The proteins are then utilized by the plant to form essential oils. Because different growing regions have unique soil chemistry, a single species of plant can have very different essential oil constituents, depending on origin. The same essential oil, therefore, can exhibit different effects on the body depending on origin. The chemically different plants of a single species are called chemotypes and it is common for species such as basil, rosemary and thyme to have multiple chemotypes, each renowned for it’s own unique effects.

Different Chemical Structures of Peppermint

Different Chemical Structures of Peppermint

Essential oils are first formed in the leaves of the plant but can be stored or concentrated in different areas of the plant at different times of day or in certain seasons. For this reason, it is crucial that plants are harvested at the proper time, processed correctly and tested to ensure presence of the desired chemical constituents. Young Living Essential Oils are created in exactly this manner, guaranteeing potency. To view that process, we recommend watching “From Seed to Seal” the video below, produced by Young Living, which outlines their creation of essential oils.

Therapeutic Grade Oils, Additives and Adulteration

For every 1lb. of pure essential oil produced, at least 10lb. of synthetic essential oils are being produced somewhere else. The race towards ever increasing profits has resulted in the majority of commercially available “essential oils” containing either partial synthetic reproductions or true essential oils cut with solvents and extenders. The decisions to use additives are made  by companies with share holder profits, not user safety or potency, in mind.

Sealing Essential OilsSince the knowledge of the chemical constituents of essential oils is well documented, companies have been able recreate 5 to 15 of the main constituents in the correct ratios to produce a cheap synthetic that is nearly impossible for the consumer to distinguish from a true essential oil. This practice leaves out over 80% of the active ingredients and disrupts the balance between hundreds of compounds that make many essential oils inherently safe. This is a huge concern for consumers because applying an impure, concentrated set of synthesized organic molecules to your skin can cause severe skin reactions and can have toxic effects on your entire body.

Another method of creating cheaper products is to cut the essential oil with solvents and extenders, including inert oils, glycerin, linalyl acetate, dipropylene glycol, diethylphthalate, and other petroleum-based solvents. These solvents can cause rashes and sensitivities, and petrochemicals may be absorbed by and remain in the body for weeks.

The best way to safeguard against these adulterated oils is to seek out oils that adhere to ANFOR/ISO therapeutic grade essential oil standards. These standards call out specific ratios and concentrations of active ingredients required, which guarantees the purity and potency of your oils. We only recommend using natural, ANFOR/ISO certified, therapeutic grade essential oils and products, which can be sourced reliably through our recommended vendor, Young Living Essential Oils.

To order from Young Living you must sign up as a Customer, Preferred Customer, or Independent Distributor. If you plan on ordering more than once or more than one oil, it’s a good idea to sign up as an Independent Distributor. Besides being able to purchase products at the wholesale price, you will receive many other bonuses and benefits from Young Living plus be granted access to all lessons and materials offered here at School of Essential Oils.

The next and final lesson in our core series discuses application techniques. From there you can go on to learn the benefits and uses of each oil by becoming a Young Living Independent Distributor and accessing our oil knowledge classes. Until next time, be well! And thanks for joining us!