The 411 on Essential Oils

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Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

An essential oil is a natural volatile material typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance, flavor and/or action of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.

Essential oils are found in various plant parts: leaves, stems, flower buds, open flowers, peels, barks, fruits, roots, needles, twigs, and resins.

When we utilize an essential oil for our well-being and vitality, we are actually being bombarded by a wide array of chemicals, because chemically, an essential oil is a complex mixture of 30 to 100 or more compounds.

There are three primary ways to derive the benefits of an essential oil:

  1. through topical application
  2. by inhalation, and
  3. by ingestion.

TOPICAL APPLICATION: Essential oils’ benefits can be enjoyed by topical application directly on the skin. Diffusing essential oils in bathwater is another way to apply the oils topically.

To increase absorption effectiveness, gently massage the area first to improve circulation in that area. Applying a drop of essential oil (not already blended into skincare products) on warmed skin will also enhance circulation which in turn enhances absorption.

Taking advantage of proven and appropriate proportions and blends of essential oils in a reputable skincare product such as those manufactured by PHYTO5 ensure the wisest use of enormously potent essential oils. This protection comes from the fact that European made products such as those formulated by PHYTO5 must comply with the new and strict European regulations limiting the type and concentration of natural essential oils in skincare products, as opposed to products containing essential oils made in other countries such as the U.S.

INHALATION: Inhaling essential oils is another way to realize their healing benefits. Inhalation can affect the body through several systems and pathways. It can occur:

  • by breathing the fragrance of the oil through the nose or mouth, and
  • aromatherapeutically via diffuser or in a bath.

These two actions activate their energetic properties:

  1. warming the oils slightly, and
  2. tapping the bottle first two or three times.

The olfactory system is comprised of all the physical organs or cells which relate to the sense of smell. When we inhale the fragrance of an essential oil, airborne molecules interact with our olfactory organs and reach the brain almost immediately through a variety of receptor sites.

One of these receptor sites is the limbic system,*–what some refer to as the “emotional brain” or the “smell brain.”

The limbic system is a group of deep brain structures that are involved in the sense of smell and the experience of emotions… The limbic system works in coordination with the pituitary gland** and the hypothalamus*** area of the brain to regulate the hormonal activities of the endocrine system… [it] also influences immunity. Through their action on the limbic system, essential oils can have a positive impact on all of these functions by bringing balance to the body. – Roberta Wilson, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty

In addition to being transported to the brain, the inhaled essential oil molecules are also transported to the lungs to interact with the respiratory system.

INGESTION: Essential oils can also be internally ingested though EXTREME CAUTION is advised because of their potency.

One or a few tiny drops of essential oil does not look like very much, but if they are premium grade, they are so powerful that to ingest more could actually be detrimental.

If you desire to ingest essential oils, consult an expert in essential oils for your safety. In France, for example, essential oils are actually prescribed and dispensed by trained physicians and pharmacists.

The reasons for such caution concerning ingestion are to be taken seriously:

  • Some essential oils can be toxic to the liver or kidneys when ingested.
  • A chemical breakdown of essential oils during digestion can so alter the effects you may not achieve the results desired.

It is important to be aware that just because you may find essential oils in your local department or even grocery store, it does not necessarily follow that the quality is high. In some cases, they might even be synthetic perfume that smell great but have no wellness benefits whatsoever.

You are very wise to incorporate the use of essential oils into your holistic lifestyle. At the same time, we urge you to do your due diligence to learn about every aspect of essential oils to become a very well informed consumer and actually get what is your intention to pay for.

When it comes to essential oils in skincare (which is a profoundly therapeutic way to introduce essential oils into your system), it is wise to rely on the vast knowledge and experience of chemists who are well trained in the appropriate dosages, blends and use of the oils such as you will find abounding in PHYTO5 Skincare.


*a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring). –The New Oxford American Dictionary

**A pea-sized body attached to the base of the brain, the pituitary is important in controlling growth and development and the functioning of the other endocrine glands. It is the major endocrine gland. –The New Oxford American Dictionary

***a region of the forebrain below the thalamus that coordinates both the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary, controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic systems, and involved in sleep and emotional activity. –The New Oxford American Dictionary



The New Oxford American Dictionary

Wilson, Roberta. Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty. New York: Avery, 2002. Print.



About the Author:

Dawn Tardif, Founder and President of BodiScience Wellness Center & Spa since 1990, has more than 25 years in the health, wellness and spa industry. Ms. Tardif earned her degree in Ayurvedic Medicine from the International Ayurvedic Institute in 1999. She studied with top Ayurvedic leaders Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, Melanie and Robert Sachs and Eve Taylor in her pursuit to become a master in the field of wellness. Ms. Tardif also holds certifications in Allopathic Medicine from the Boston University Mini-Medical School as well as Anti-aging Nutrition and Clinical Aromatherapy. Her commitment to continual education is the foundation of delivering the latest results-oriented treatments to her sophisticated clientele who seek out her innovative approach to health and wellness.

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