EXTRACTING ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are the molecules present in plants that give them their particular smell and taste. For example, the essential oils of citrus fruits can be found in the zest - that's what sprays out when you peel a mandarin! The oils are extracted from the plants by steam distillation of the flowers, leaves, and/or branches, or for some plants, cold expressed from the zest or peel.
MECHANISMS OF ACTION
The effects of aromatherapy have been suggested to be the result of the psychological effects following inhalation of the scent in question, which starts by messenger chemicals being stimulated in the brain; the physiological effects of the inhaled compounds; and of the absorption of certain compounds through the skin when the oil or spray is applied topically. The skin is our largest organ, so it makes just as much sense to care about what we put on it as we do with what we eat.
OUR USE OF EO's
Since e:mists contain essential oils in their diluted form, they can be used more freely than pure essential oils. In addition to using them as room- and body mists, they can be used to add scents and therapeutic properties to massage oils, baths, and even lotions. Just spray on your skin before applying oil or lotion, or in your bath water!
Historically, cedar trees symbolize wisdom. It has also been said that it has calming properties, as well as being an aphrodisiac. Cedarwood essential oil is thought to be antibacterial, and may help lessen skin irritations, such as eczema. The scent is also an insect repellant!
Many of the chemical compounds present in chamomile have been found to have beneficial effects. Some of the suggested characteristics are: calming, sedative, muscle relaxant, and has also been found to prevent inflammation. In addition, chamomile also has mild antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
Frankincense is, traditionally, the scent of the Western sun gods, often used together with saffron, musk, and myrrh. The oil is obtained from the resin of the Boswellia trees. In the past, the resin was burnt to bless and inspire people with the scent of divinity. The power it held would cause evil forces to disperse and induce a focused state of contemplation. To this day, frankincense holds a place in skin care as a rejuvenant of skin cells, particularly for dry skin.
Inhaling the scent of grapefruit essential oil can energize you as it stimulates sympathetic nerve activities. It may also suppress your appetite as it can suppress parasympathetic nerve activity.
The scent of jasmine is said to dissolve emotional tensions, and in that way promote intimacy. The floral absolute of jasmine contains antioxidants, and at least 100 additional chemical compounds, making the scent very rich and complex.
The lavender plant is a genus with many members, and the information available on the therapeutic uses of lavender sometimes pertain to only one or a specific set of these types. Since the kind used in e:mists is Lavandula Angustifolia, the following information only concerns this sub-species. Lavender, when applied to the skin, increases blood circulation. For some, the scent also tames headaches and promotes relaxation. Some also say that the scent keeps nightmares away...
Botanically related to frankincense, myrrh is a resin from a tree (Commiphora Myrrha). Myrrh is known for being one of the three gifts that were brought to Jesus by the three Wise Men. In biblical times, myrrh was used for many things, for example as a natural remedy, a spice, and to purify the dead. Today, we know that myrrh has antioxidant capacities and can even fight some parasitic infections. One of the active compounds in myrrh oil (sesquiterpenes) bears effects on our hypothalamus (center in the brain that deals with emotions, among other things), causing it to help us remain balanced and calm.
In both the Middle East and in Asia, orange essential oil has since way back been considered an antidote to melancholia. More recently, aromatherapy with sweet orange oil has shown potential for improving cognitive function. It also calms you down due to having some anxiolytic properties. On a slightly different note, orange oil has also been found to be a way to control house flies (insecticidal).
The scent of patchouli is often connected with hippies, and maybe it was chosen as a signature scent of the wild and free for a reason. It's been found that patchouli oil contains almost 30 antibacterial agents! In addition to that, the warm smell is also rumored to be an aphrodisiac.
The scent of pine oil can ward off insects, and has also been found to be a powerful antioxidant as well as being antimicrobial.
Rose essential oil is an antioxidant, but more interestingly, the scent, when inhaled, has been found to be able to reduce stress. It is thought that it exerts effects on the HPA axis, reducing the amount of stress hormone in circulation.
The use of rosemary dates way back to ancient Greece. It was a sacred herb often used in temples, and it was thought that the scent of rosemary was purifying and had the power to clear up negative energies. In addition to being a sacred herb, rosemary is also a remedy. When inhaling the scent of rosemary essential oil, it has been found that a specific area in the brain is stimulated, and releases noradrenalin. This causes a stimulating and restorative effect. Inhaling the scent from rosemary oil (together with lavender) can also significantly reduce the amount of circulating stress hormones. Application of the (diluted) oil to the skin can help skin problems as it is anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants. It can also aid in increasing your concentration and attention span.