Top 10 FAQs on Essential Oils

When teaching my cooking classes on How to Use Essential Oils in your Culinary Creation, people always ask some great questions. I hope this article will help answer your specific question.

Let’s get started.

Before modern medicine and drug stores, people relied on plant-based remedies to address a condition.

1.What exactly are Essential Oils

    • EOs (essential oils) are fragrant, vital fluids *distilled from flowers, shrubs, leaves, trees, roots, and/or seeds
    • EOs are the aromatic compounds that come off plants that are in an oil form
    • EOs are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) made up of a variety of chemicals.
        • A VOC will dissipate rapidly into the air
    • EOs distinctive chemistry enables them to permeate every cell to administer it’s healing properties at the greatest essential level in our body
    • We call these oils “essential” not because our bodies do not create them and we need them to survive such as “Essential Amino Acids” or “Essential Fatty Acids”. Essential oils got their name from the word “Quintessential” meaning embodying the essence of something.
      • Quintessential “the 5th Essence” translated means: the life force or essence of the plant 
    • EOs are made by:
      • Steam distillation from plants (just like distilling spirits)
      • This is extraction is the best to achieve the highest quality of EO
      • Cold press for Citrus fruits because you only use the skin of the citrus (similar to olive oil cold pressing)
      • Different extractions: Water vapor distillation (steam), Pressure extractions, Expression, Enlfeurage, Solvent extraction, CO2, Synthetic imitation

Fun Fact: It takes about 50 pounds of plant material to make 1 pound of Essential Oil


Graph on how Essential Oils are distilled

2.How are they Different from other oils?

    • EOs are NOT an actual lipid
      • Lipid: any of a class of organic compounds that are fatty acids or their derivatives and are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. They include many natural oils, waxes, and steroids.
      •  They do not contain any EFA (essential fatty acids)
      • Remember they are a VOC
        • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) made up of a variety of chemicals.
        • A VOC will dissipate rapidly into the air and they absorb quickly through the skin cells and the saliva glands
    • They have a slight “oily” texture but because they evaporate and penetrate the cells wall quickly they do not leave an oily residue on your skin

3a. What is the History of essential oils?

Brief History Guide of Essential Oils (sited by: draxe.com)

3500 BC –> In Mesopotamia, the first distillation system invented in Tepe Gawra (modern Iraq)

27oo BC –> Shennong, a ruler of prehistoric China, pioneers Chinese Medicine, including 300 herbal remedies

1470 BC –> Egyptians used oils for beauty, perfume, therapies and embalming

1350 BC –>The prophet Moses and Jewish nation use holy anointing oil for health and for inaugurating kings

460 BC –> Hippocrates and Greek physicians use herbs and oils as remedies

0 AD –> In Israel, the 3 wise-guys brought the baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh..

FUN FACT: Frankincense and Myrrh where worth more than the gold

100 AD –>In Rome, Pliny the Elder writes about the uses of herbs and essential oils

150 AD –> Chief physician Galen uses herbs and oils to soothe and restore gladiators’ wounds

1000 AD –> Persian physician Avicenna creates essential oils, including rose, for aromatherapy

1928 AD –> French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé alleviates burn with lavender oil

FUN FACT: this really works, I have tried it

2017 AD –> 17,2777 studies on essential oils in the U.S.’s PubMed database

3b. Why are they so popular today?

My opinion…. I think we, as the human race, are going back to more traditional medicine. Since most modern medicines are showing so many side effects that can cause more harm to the human body than the actual condition itself. People are looking for a better way. We want to cure the root of the condition, not just the symptom. Instead of reinventing the wheel the pendulum is shifting back to more traditional healing methods.

    • Our modern aspirin was driven form plants: White Willow Bark, Wintergreen & Birch
      • The word “aspirin” wasn’t a coincidence. It comes from Spiraea, a biological genus of shrubs that includes natural sources of the drug’s key ingredient: salicylic acid. This acid, resembling what’s in modern-day aspirin, can be found in jasmine, beans, peas, clover and certain grasses and trees. ~cnn.com

4.How can they help my Health? Are they really that powerful?

    • Every EO contains compounds that possess unique therapeutic benefits
    • EO compounds when ingested are absorbed through the first line of digestion, the mouth-saliva, this is where they enter the blood stream
      • The blood then transports the EO to the organ it is designed to target
      • Research has found EOs are absorbed directly into the blood stream through the following routes: Dermal, Oral, and/or Pulmonary
    • Yes, They are that powerful..Why? Because they can actually cross the blood brain barrier and attach to the various receptors present in the central nervous system

5.Can they cure disease?

    • EOs provide healthy alternatives to many drugs and toxic over the counter products
      • ie: provides a holistic health for your body and home
    • No, this is very important to understand. EOs cannot cure disease.
    • However, There has been evidence that using EOs as part of a whole body holistic protocol there has been great benefits.
      • Cancer in vitro studies have been shown that the EOs can fight cancer cell. It does not mean they have cured cancer
    • EOs can enhance your life but they are not a cure all.
    • Can cinnamon oil help regulate blood glucose, Yes! But it does not mean it will cure a person of Type 2 diabetes.
      • The person needs to address the root cause of the diabetes
    • Think of EOs as a supplementation to your daily/condition treatment protocol

6.Are essential oils safe?

  • The short answer is Yes… with a big old BUT!
    • It is important to remember that EOs are a very highly concentrated compound of a specific plant material.
    • Certain EOs could have irritation potential and can be toxic if ingested in larges doses.
    • The beauty of an essential oil is LESS is always MORE
  • Safety Factors
    • Oil quality
    • Chemical composition
    • Method of Use
    • Skin integrity
    • Dosage/Dilution applied
    • Age and special use (pregnancy, prescription meds, children)
  • Safety Recommendations:
    • Always start with a minimum dose – 1 to 2 drops. you can always add you can never remove
    • When in doubt dilute
    • Stop use if irritation occurs
    • Some oils ARE NOT SAFE to ingest
    • Some oils are not safe to use while pregnant
    • If prone to throat irritation, make your own EO capsule or dilute
    • Take with food or in food
    • Always double check with your GP if you are taking any OTC drug prescriptions
    • Do not use in the ear canal or directly in the eye…In fact avoid the eye area

7.Are all oils safe to ingest?

NO, not all oils are safe to ingest.

  • The FDA actually has a list of essential oils that are considered (GRAS)
    • Generally Recognized As Safe
    • FDA Approved Essential Oils
    • Here are a few I do not recommend ingesting: this list is not a complete list
      • Camphor, Citronella, Thuja, Pennyroyal, Sassafras, Wormseed, Wormwood
  • Not all oils are pleasant to ingest either. Due to their highly concentrated compounds.
    • Some of my favorite EOs to use in the kitchen are:
      • Grapefruit, Lime, Lemon, Orange, including sweet, Cinnamon bark, Black Pepper, Cilantro (DoTerra), Ginger, Lemongrass
  • Remember when choosing your essential oil. Each bottle should contain ALL of the following
    • Organic
    • Therapeutic Grade
    • 100% natural
    • the Botanical Name
    • the Origin of the plant
    • the Lot number
  • Who should not use EOs
    • Infants, toddlers and young children are more sensitive to EOs. Pregnant and breast feeding women should be carful on what oils are good and what oils to stay away from See safety precautions on each oil prior to use.

8a. If using topical how do I apply?

Think about your spine… It is our nervous system super highway. All roads lead FROM the spine.

  • Appling EOs along your spinal cord is the first area you should apply.
  • Look at the graph above. Look where your kidneys would be located. You wan to boost your adrenals. Apply a few drops of Rosemary & Lavender in the palm of your hand then rub in the L1 to L4 area of your spine. Pretty much that is where your kidneys are located.
  • Stuffy nose or sinus issue? Eucalyptus & frankincense in the C1-C4 area of your neck…the nerves to your sinuses and ear panels are at the base of your neck
  • Some other great spots: cinnamon on your tummy and wrists.. To help with blood circulation and stabilizing your blood glucose
  • Any digestive issues. I like to put Lemon and Rosemary oil on my L1-L4 area as well as on my tummy. When applying on the tummy I rub clockwise starting at 6:00 and working around.
    • 6 o’clock starts just under the belly button. You are following the large intestine track around and to the colon
  • Please note: If you have damage or inflamed skin it is more often penetrable and may be more sensitive to any type of dermal relations. It would be best to keep the inflamed or infected area clean and sterile of any compounds including EOs until the area has healed.

8b. Dilute or Neat?

Some people ask “Can I apply EOs directly to my skin”? The answer is slightly complicated. So I will try an answer it the best I can for you.

  • The term for applying essential oils directly to the skin is called: NEAT
    • Neat: EO’s do not require a carrier oil to be applied directly to the skin.
  • HOWEVER!!
    • If you have sensitive skin. You may find using a carrier oil would be beneficial.
    • Carrier Oil: a fat/oil that you combine with your EO before you apply it to the skin
      • Types of carrier oils: Coconut, Jojoba, Almond, Shea Butter, Olive are just a few
    • EXAMPLE:
      • I cannot apply Peppermint Oil “neat” because I break out into a rash. But, I can apply it diluted with no problem. I use Jojoba oil as my carrier.
      • I can apply Lemon Oil “neat” and have no issues what so ever.
    • Always test on a little patch of skin first.
    • If you want to be safe.. Just dilute 1 to 2 drops of the EO into your preferred carrier oil and massage the target area on your skin.

What are some of the most common oils to cook with? Savory & Sweet?

  • How many times a year  do you use clove? Once probably making that pumpkin pie.. Instead of always buying clove and winding up with a pantry of 10 jars.. 1 bottle of clove EO will last you for many years. If kept properly.
  • One drop of clove oil is equivalent to 1 tsp of ground clove. (roughly)
  • Here are some of  my favorites to spice up dishes
    • Some of my favorite EOs to use in the kitchen are:
      • Grapefruit, Lime, Lemon, Orange, including sweet, Cinnamon bark, Black Pepper, Cilantro (DoTerra), Ginger, Lemongrass
  • Cooking with EOs you do not want to bring them up to a boil. My suggestion is you add them in to soups and stews as a finishing seasoning.
  • If baking, you fold them into the batter you will be fine.
  • I elaborate on how to use them in other blogs and recipes. Search my blog posts for current recipes and techniques on specific oils

How long do they last?

  • EOs will last indefinitely. Well,. As long as you store them properly.
    • Storage: keep them in a cabinet that will stay cool.
    • Keep them away from direct sunlight
    • Keep them away from direct heat
    • Do not store them too close to your stove.
    • If your under counter lighting gets too hot and heats the base of your cabinet. Move your oils
    • All oils should be stored in dark amber, blue or green glass with a tight fitting lid
  • EOs dry herb counter parts only last 1 year in your side cabinet..And you have no idea when those herbs have been picked and packaged.
  • A high quality EO you will know when it was bottled.
  • EOs do not loose their nutrient value.
  • Remember they are a VOC
    • Which means if not stored properly they will evaporate before they could ever go bad.

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