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ESSENTIAL OILS: A DEEPER DIVE

How Essential Oils Are Made

Thursday, June 15th, 2023 | Article by: Liza Docken Distillation: the transformation of plant material, using water, to create essential oils. The most common method of essential oil extraction is through steam distillation. Water is heated by fire to create steam. The steam then moves through a pipe into the next chamber where plant material has been tightly packed. As the steam moves through the plant material’s cells and membranes, it pulls the essential oils out and carries them into the condenser. Here the steam is cooled to return it to water, which fills into the final chamber. Because the essential oils are hydrophobic, they separate and float to the surface. After removing the essential oils, what is left over is called Hydrosol. Hydro (water) + sol (solution). Hydrosol is the co-product of distillation, a gentler aromatherapy product that is much, much less concentrated and contains the water-soluble constituents of a plant. This makes hydrosol far more user-friendly for the novice and for everyday use, especially with pets and children under 3.   When it comes to more delicate materials, like some flowers whose petals have thinner membranes, the heat of steam distillation is too intense and can damage the plant material before the essential oil can been extracted. While similar to steam distillation in that water is being heated, hydro distillation is a process of placing plant material directly into the water that is being heated, rather than in a separate chamber as with steam distillation. This secondary method allows for lower temperatures, ensuring the precious plant material can remain intact until its oils have been properly extracted. This method is also used for materials that benefit from longer distillation times due to sustained heat exposure, like resins. When asking the question, “How is essential oil made?” there is yet another answer: expeller pressing. Some plant material yields a better quantity of oil while maintaining quality when pressed rather than distilled. A common example of this is the peels of citrus fruit (lemons, grapefruit, oranges, etc.). This method can be done with whole peels, pressing them after being warmed to ensure the plant material releases as much of the essential oil as possible. Alternatively, this method can be done after zesting the citrus peels over a natural sponge, which is then pressed to extract the essential oil. Why are essential oils called ‘essential?’ Essential speaks to the nature of the work the oils do in the plant. Essential oils act much like an immune system for the plant. Essential oils function to ward of microbes (bacteria, virus, fungus, etc.), pests (insects), and invasive species. They also function as attractants to entice butterflies, bees, and birds, all of which act as pollinators and ensure the plant’s continued survival. These oils are essential to the life and longevity of the plant and could also be described as the life force of the plant. These functions can benefit humans in much the same way. Whether you’re wanting to support your immune system, keep insects away, or simply wear an enticing aromatic scent, essential oils are there to help. It’s important to note that in order to harness these life-supporting benefits that essential oils can offer, the essential oils must be plant based essential oils. As the popularity of essential oils and aromatherapy grows, there are many brands offering ‘essential oils’ that have been synthesized in a lab or have had synthetic fragrances mixed in with plant oils. This changes their safety indications, uses, and therapeutic value. Pharmaceutical Grade Essential Oils When someone is looking for phytotherapy or plant based organic essential oils, they need to be sure they’re sourcing their oils from a reputable company who can back up claims of natural, organic, and therapeutic in the way Pranarōm can. At Pranarōm, every batch of essential oil is tested for quality assurance. Not only is the specific type of oil confirmed, Pranarōm’s multi-faceted approach to testing also results in what is called a Certificate of Analysis. This certificate lists the constituents, or chemical compounds contained in that specific essential oil. And this is where the conversation around pharmaceutical grade essential oils can begin. For a company like Pranarōm whose oils are often prescribed by doctors and pharmacists in the European market, quality and constituent assurance are a must. Each of these individual compounds has its own therapeutic function, and in combination with the plants’ other naturally occurring constituents, creates what can be called an entourage effect, meaning each of the constituents speaks to and supports the other. This offers a full spectrum of health support to help bring the body back into balance. For a company like Pranarōm whose oils are often prescribed by doctors and pharmacists in the European market, quality and constituent assurance are a must. Each of these individual compounds has its own therapeutic function, and in combination with the plants’ other naturally occurring constituents, creates what can be called an entourage effect, meaning each of the constituents speaks to and supports the other. This offers a full spectrum of health support to help bring the body back into balance. In addition to constituents, essential oils also have characteristics. The characteristics of essential oils change based on the plant they are taken from and where they are grown. Each oil has its unique profile of characteristics, including scent, color, texture, and chemical composition. These are some of the distinguishing features that aromatherapists and pharmacists consider when helping a client with their specific health needs. While the markets for essential oils and aromatherapy differ greatly between Europe (pharmaceutical) and the United States (alternative health), the end goal is the same: to support the health of the client. In Europe, an essential oil’s nutritional value is considered when suggesting or prescribing an oil. This is another way of speaking to the constituent profile of an oil. Here in the US, people are more likely to focus on the aroma of an oil and how it might blend with other oils. Both offer a valid approach to supporting health and wellbeing, but care should be taken when using oils for their therapeutic values. Buying from a company like Pranarōm, based on Scientific or French Medical Aromatherapy, is an important first step. Working with a health professional, such as an aromatherapist with explicit constituent training, is a must. How an essential oil is made is an important question that leads to many other interests and concerns when it comes to utilizing phyto-therapy, i.e. plant therapy. Extracting these plant therapy organic essential oils with care and attention to detail is key. While there are many methods to extraction, buying from a company like Pranarōm, who understands not only the plant’s characteristics, but also appropriate extraction methods based on those characteristics, is the best way to ensure quality and consistency. Shop Essential Oils

Ravintsara 101
Ravintsara 101

Breathe deeply with this minty, refreshing essential oil Ravintsara essential oil has superb respiratory support and immune system benefits, making it a must have for ailments that come with the colder seasons. Ravintsara trees were first brought to Madagascar from Asia in the 1980s. As the trees acclimated to the Malagasy soil, their chemical makeup became rich in 1,8 Cineole. The result? An oil that is highly beneficial for the respiratory and immune systems. Here are some of our favorite ways to use Ravintsara: Ravintsara Mini Caps: Our Ravintsara Mini Caps each contain one drop of essential oil diluted in non-GMO, certified organic sunflower seed oil for safe internal use. Try taking 1-5 capsules per day if you’re feeling under the weather. These capsules should not be taken by children under the age of 5, or in conjunction with medication without your doctor’s approval. For kids, try our arch massage below. Sinus Support: Dilute 1 to 2 drops of Ravintsara essential oil with 2-4 drops of virgin plant oil and massage into the sinuses, chest and upper back. Be careful not to put the essential oil too close to the eyes. Breathe deeply, and enjoy the refreshing, clearing sensation that Ravintsara has on your nose and lungs. Arch Massage: Applying Ravintsara to the soles of your feet is one of the best methods of application. The arches of the feet are in direct contact with the pulmonary pathway, allowing the lungs to directly benefit from the cineole in the oil. Apply 1-2 drops neat, or for little ones and those with sensitive skin, massage 1 drop diluted with 2 drops of virgin plant oil 5 days out of 7. This method not only has the benefits of the cutaneous route (directly into the blood stream), but also the respiratory and ENT benefits. Did You Know? Ravintsara vs Ravensara The name Ravintsara translates to “the good leaf” in English, “ravina” meaning “leaf” and “tsara” meaning “good” in Malagasy. Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) should not be confused with Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica). Ravensara’s aroma is sweet, green and licorice-like, and the oil contains very little 1,8 Cineole. Due to over harvesting, Ravensara is regarded as an at-risk species. Ravintsara can be one of your strongest allies for respiratory health – we hope you take advantage of its amazing benefits! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below, and visit our website at pranarom.us for more safety tips and information.

Oregano 101
Oregano 101

Defend Your Health with This Herbaceous & Spicy Essential Oil Powerful and potent, think of Oregano as the “heavy hitter” of your essential oil remedies, only to be brought out when your day to day oils aren’t quite cutting it. When used for short periods of time, Oregano is a great natural remedy to support your body’s natural defenses. When used in excess, this powerful essential oil can overload and irritate your system, so use it carefully and always consult with a medical professional before integrating any herbal or essential oil remedy into your daily health routine. Diffusion Unlike other essential oils whose aroma you want to breathe deeply and savor, Oregano is best diffused when you’re not around. This allows the essential oil to do its purifying work without irritating your air passageways. To use Oregano in this way, diffuse just 1-2 drops for an hour. Follow up by opening a window and airing out the space before using the room again. This technique is great for freshening up spaces where the air feels stagnant. Foot Massage Because the skin on the soles of your feet is tougher, this is one of the best and safest methods for Oregano. Plus, you get the ENT benefits of a foot massage! Add 1-4 drops Oregano to an ounce of carrier oil or lotion and rub into the soles of the feet. Repeat 1-2 times a day. Not for children under the age of 12. Mini Caps For safe internal use, try our Oregano mini capsules. Diluted in organic, non-gmo sunflower oil, these capsules carry the essential oil safely down to your stomach to be digested and utilized by your body without causing irritation. Adults 18 years and up can take 1 mini-cap 1-3 times per day while feeling under the weather, or as recommended by a healthcare professional. Not for children under the age of 12. As a reminder, always consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns. Oregano can be a very useful addition to your collection of natural remedies, and we hope these tips help you utilize it both effectively and safely! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below and be sure to check out pranarom.us for more immune supporting products.

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