What is an Essential Oil?

What is an essential oil? There are various definitions depending on who you ask.

According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an essential oil is a ‘product obtained from a natural raw material of plant origin, by steam distillation, by mechanical processes from the epicarp of citrus fruits, or by dry distillation, after separation of the aqueous phase — if any — by physical processes.’ While this definition is very precise, it is superficial at best and does not give many indications into their purpose or background. 

If you were to ask a plant biologist or someone who practices herbal medicine you may be told they are the ‘essences’ of the plant, synthesized when the energy of the sun is combined with nutrients and atmospheric gases into aromatic molecules. This idea could be further developed by someone with stronger spiritual beliefs, who believes the essences are the life-force and energy of the entire plant, concentrated into tangible form.

Those practicing aromatherapy would be attentive to the specific therapeutic effects of essential oils. The interaction with the human body, including the sense of smell and the mind would be emphasized when describing an essential oil.

At Aromatherapy Associates we take all of the above into account when we say essential oils are fragrant chemical compounds derived from aromatic plants with high complexity.

Most smell magical and are often reminiscent of the plant from which they come, with various properties and individualities. We believe on harnessing the power of essential oils to bring greater benefits to you – they work in synergy from both a holistic and scientific perspective.