What are essential oils?
In purely practical terms, essential oils are concentrated compounds extracted from aromatic plants to capture that plant’s scent, flavor, and natural benefits. You’ll find these highly potent compounds in a plant’s seeds, flowers, bark, roots, leaves, stems, rinds, fruit, and resin. As an example, in citrus fruits, essential oils are found inside the peel.
There are many who also see essential oils as the essence of a plant, the purest distillation of nature’s living energy. These oils have enhanced lives for thousands of years, with new uses and benefits still being discovered today.
Within the plants they’re extracted from, essential oils create that plant’s signature scent along with other benefits. For example, plants depend on their oils to attract pollinating insects and repel predators. Once extracted, essential oils will often have a stronger scent than the plants they hail from and exhibit more concentrated effects.
To enjoy these concentrated effects—the benefits of essential oils—you can apply them topically, typically added to other carrier oils, creams, and lotions.
Other benefits come from diffusing these oils’ inviting aromas throughout your living or workspaces with an essential oil diffuser.
Certain grades of oil can even be ingested and are used to flavor food and drinks. Of course, concentrated extracts like essential oils should be handled with care. Be sure to always check individual labels for instructions on how to use and apply an essential oil. Ask your doctor if you’re not sure a particular oil is right for you.