9 Popular Types of Essential Oils and Their Benefits
If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose or lily, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, flowers, roots, and other parts of plants. They are named ‘volatile’ as they change state quickly and easily. Essential oils can be both lovely and powerfully fragrant. In addition to their uses within a plant, these oils have been used for food preparation, beauty-treatments, health-care practices and are regularly used in aromatherapy.
These oils have enhanced our lives for thousands of years, offering a variety of benefits from cosmetics and dietary purposes to spiritual and religious reasons.
Even with pure essential oils, the composition of the oil can vary depending on the time of day, geographic location, method and duration of distillation, the year grown, and the weather. This results in making every step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the essential oil product.
The term “essential oil” is a contraction of the original “quintessential oil”, stemming from the idea that matter is composed of four elements, namely, fire, air, earth and water. The fifth element, (or quintessence) was then considered to be the spirit or life force. Distillation and evaporation were thought to be processes of removing the spirit from a plant. This can be seen within our language, as the terms “spirits” refers to distilled alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, brandy and tequila. Although now we know, far from being spirits, essential oils are physical in nature and are composed of complex mixtures of chemicals.
While essential oils are found within plants, they are constantly changing their chemical compositions, helping the plant to adapt to the environment surrounding -both internal and external.
Scientific research has discovered that plants produce essential oils for a variety of different purposes including:
To attract pollinators and dispersal agents:
Insects have been pollinating flowers for over 200 million years. Insects, like humans, are attracted to specific plants for one of three reasons: aroma, color or physical structure. Scent appears to be the strongest of the three reasons, however, with bees, butterflies, and even beetles being attracted to plants for this particular reason.
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