How Essential Oils Are Made

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.

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Essential Oil Profile: Atlas Cedarwood
Essential Oils for Focus

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Essential Oil Profile: Atlas Cedarwood

Thursday, May 4th, 2023 | Article by: Liza Docken Atlas Cedarwood organic essential oil comes from large trees, towering over 1,000ft, that are native to Morocco and Algeria. Unlike other coniferous oils that are sourced from the needles of the tree, like Douglas Fir or Scotch Pine, Atlas Cedarwood is steam distilled from the wood of this tree. Named for the Atlas Mountains where these trees grow, Atlas Cedarwood Cedrus atlantica is not to be confused with Texas Cedarwood Juniperus mexicana, Himalayan Cedarwood Cedrus deodara, Virginian Cedarwood Juniperus virginiana or White Cedar Thuja occidentalis. Each oil has its own smell, use, and safety considerations. For the sake of this post, I’ll be discussing Cedrus Atlantica, the only Cedarwood that Pranarōm currently offers. Being clear on what type of Cedarwood you have is crucial for using the oil in blends for topical use or for diffusion. This lovely oil comes from the Pinaceae family, and consists of beta-, alpha-, and gamma-himachalene, gamma-atlantone, and delta-cadinene amongst a total of 120 constituents. Like any of our essential oils at Pranarōm, you can call our customer care number and request the Certificate of Analysis on any batch of essential oils – all we need is the lot number on your carton box. Our primary goal at Pranarōm is offering the best quality, organic essential oils with transparency and traceability. Physiologically, Atlas Cedarwood supports the body’s circulatory system and cognitive function. The oil is commonly used in blends to support the body in cases of cellulite, circulatory stasis, bruises, and cognitive function. It also has a soothing and softening effect to the emotions, and is known to be gentle on the skin, which is why it is included in Pranarōm’s Calm Moisture Treatment Oil in the Plant Beautiful Organic Skincare line. Likewise, in the Beard Oil Wellness Blend, Atlas Cedarwood provides a soothing aroma while soothing the skin under facial hair. Diffuse Atlas Cedarwood to enhance meditative relaxation, intuitive work, or to help ease irritability after a rough day at work. 4-5 drops in an ultrasonic diffuser is all you need to relax and unwind. With a warm, rich, woody and honey-like aroma, Atlas Cedarwood can blend easily with most essential oils. Some favorites are: Black Spruce, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lavender, Myrrh, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary ct cinole and ct verbenone, Tea Tree, and Vetiver. When treating a bruise, Atlas Cedarwood can be very helpful to shorten the duration of a bruise’s appearance. Blend with Helichrysum for an even more effective support blend.

Essential Oils for Focus

Friday, June 30th, 2023 | Article by: Liza Docken In the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives, we’re often in need of support for mental functioning. Whether it’s focus, concentration, alertness, or attention we’re hoping to increase, it turns out smelling essential oils can make a big difference. We can thank Olfaction for our ability to gain benefits from smelling things like essential oils, flowers, and so on. Olfaction happens through the Olfactory System, & here’s a rudimentary explanation of how that works. When we inhale and notice a scent, it means we’ve breathed in an aromatic molecule. Given that all scent is particulate, these molecules exist in us and cause a reaction in us regardless if the scent is good or bad. These molecules act as messages and when breathed in are taken in by our Olfactory Nerves, which hang down from the top of our nasal cavity. These nerves cross the ethmoid bone, or cribiform plate, carrying the molecule messages to our Olfactory Bulb. Here, the messages are taken along the Olfactory Tract into the Limbic System of the brain, which includes the Hypothalamus, the Hippocampus, and the Amygdala. These parts of our brain are responsible for regulating and balancing our autonomic nervous system, our hormones, our emotions (including those that can cause us to lose focus), and our memories. Needless to say, simply breathing in a scent goes far beyond the enjoyment of aromas. Single Note Essential Oils for Focus When it comes to essential oils for focus, we have a good many to choose from. Here’s a quick comprehensive list that includes some of the best essential oils for focus, concentration, and studying. Basil – this herbaceous, fresh scent has been known to soothe those who suffer from ruminative thinking, when your brain replays the same thought again and again like a skipping record. Also known for its supportive nature during headaches, this essential oil has a lot to offer when we’re looking for greater concentration for work or studying. Bergamot and other citruses – citrus scents can help with mental fatigue thanks to their ability to uplift the sprits and focus our mind and attention. Lemon, Orange, and Grapefruit are equally beneficial, letting you choose the one you like best. Black Spruce – conifers like black spruce can support ease of breath, which in turn can help us take deeper breaths. Like a chain reaction, this helps us feel more grounded and present which makes focusing on a task much easier. It also has the ability to bring relief during times of stress, one of the biggest causes for distraction and mental fatigue. Eucalyptus Globulus or Eucalyptus Radiata – both eucalyptus varieties are supportive of the respiratory system, and can enhance ease of breath and a feeling of alertness. Frankincense – typically used as a way to enhance reverence and increase spiritual connectedness, Frankincense can also promote ease of breath. This is a great way to support meditation and deeper breathing, both known to help with general focus and concentration. Lavender – best known for its ability to relax and encourage rest, Lavender Lavandula angustifolia’s anxiolytic capabilities have been shown to decrease tension, another of the main causes of mental fatigue and distracted mind. Lavender, Spike – not to be confused with Lavender, Spike Lavender Lavandula spicata has a different constituent profile, including higher levels of a constituent called 1,8 cineole. This constituent is also present in Eucalyptus Globulus, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Ravintsara, all of which can invigorate the senses and support the respiratory system. Lemongrass – a popular refreshing scent that works both as a calming agent and a motivator, helping you to stay focused and on task. Peppermint– invigorating, energizing, and stimulating, this is a quintessential scent for promoting concentration, attentiveness, and focus. Pine, Scotch – a great option in times of severe fatigue or exhaustion, this awakens the body and mind via its fresh forest scent. Ravintsara ct 1,8 cineole – this oil’s ability to support as a neurotonic is a fantastic option where exhaustion, stress, and anxiety might be thwarting your ability to focus and stay on task. Rosemary ct 1,8 cineol – a staple scent for supporting memory, mental acuity, and focus. This oil has a long history of use for remembrance and attention and is one of the best essential oils for concentration. Rosemary ct 1,8 cineole’s effects are in part thanks to its ability to support circulation. Spearmint – a softer counterpart to Peppermint, this oil has a sweetness to its stimulation which can soften the effects if you’re not in need of a full-on boost. Thyme ct linalol – the softer of two variations, Thyme ct linalol can offer relief from nervous fatigue, a common side effect of busy lifestyles. This is the softer aroma of the two Thymes as well. Thyme ct thymol – this more intense version of Thyme is due to its stimulating constituents which gives it an invigorating and intense impact. This oil is best used in a blend for focus and mental clarity. Vetiver – this oil is the queen bee of centering and grounding. These two elements can help us reconnect with the present moment, something that naturally promotes the ability to focus and concentrate. Essential Oil Blends for Focus and Concentration Mixing your favorites from the list of essential oils for focus and concentration, you can make a blend tailored to your interests. Here are some examples of blends that work nicely together. Focus Essential Oil Blend for Topical Use Bergamot 30 drops Basil ct linalol 10 drops Peppermint 10 drops Add these oils to 50 drops of your carrier oil of choice – I like Jojoba in this blend thanks to its texture and neutral scent – and massage 4-5 drops into the solar plexus twice a day, when needed. Focus Diffuser Blend Black Spruce 25 drops Lavender 35 drops Ravintsara ct 1,8 cineole 15 drops Create your synergy by adding these oils to a clean 5ml bottle, swirl to combine the essential oils, then add 4-5 drops to your diffuser. 8-9 drops of the synergy can be used for larger rooms and areas. Great at the office, for study sessions, or any time you need a little boost for concentration and attention. Pre-formulated Essential Oil Blends from Pranarōm When it comes to supporting students of all ages, some of the best essential oils for studying are available in pre-made blends by Pranarōm. For those under 12, the Pranakids Play diffusion blend is an effective option while being safe for use with children from 3 months and up. This blend is formulated with Sweet Orange, Spearmint, Atlas Cedarwood, and Bergamot essential oils. For those over 12 years of age, Pranarōm offers both Find Focus and, a longtime favorite, Mental Clarity. Each expertly formulated blend has its own aromatic characteristics. Find Focus is formulated with Grapefruit, Sweet Orange, Peppermint, and Lemongrass essential oils to help improve concentration and support focused attention. Mental Clarity is formulated with Peppermint, Lemon, Grapefruit, Lavender, Rosemary ct 1,8 cineole, and Basil ct linalol essential oils for boosting energy and refreshing the mind. Shop all of our Wellness Blends here! Methods for Using Essential Oils for Focus Diffusion is one of the best options for getting the most benefits from essential oils, especially when used for focus, concentration, or studying. I recommend an ultrasonic diffuser, a style that does not use heat to diffuse. This style of diffusion maintains the therapeutic and aromatic qualities of an essential oil better than a heat-sourced diffuser. When a diffuser is not available, try palm inhalation! Add a drop of your single note essential oil or blend to your palms and rub them together. The warmth and friction caused by rubbing the palms together helps to open the aroma. Cup the palms and bring them toward your nose as you breathe in deeply through the nose 3-5 times. In a pinch, you can smell the oil right out of the bottle and still receive benefits. With a little more time you can add your oil(s) to a carrier oil and use this blend to massage into the chest or shoulders to enjoy the aromatics in a more personal way. With so many options available, finding an essential oil for focus that appeals to you is easy! Try one of these suggested single notes, DIY blends or pre-formulated blends by Pranarōm today and notice how quickly they can help you.