What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are volatile, organic chemicals that are distilled from various parts of plants, including seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers and fruit. They are highly concentrated, beneficial end-products of the plant's metabolism and far more potent than dried herbs.
Essential oils can help balance and support the body to heal itself. Research has shown that essential oils help us fight infection, contain balancing, hormone-like compounds and aid regeneration. They possess anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
The molecules of essential oils are lipid soluble and relatively small, giving them the ability to easily penetrate the cells and travel throughout the body in a matter of minutes when topically applied to the soles of the feet or elsewhere. They can cross the blood-brain barrier and access the central nervous system.
Essential oils have their own individual character or "blueprint" – an absolutely unique identity. They are very potent and can be used in a small quantity for beneficial and effective results. Using the sun's energy, plus soil, air and water, a perfectly balanced blend of complex chemicals is created. The combination of numerous elements gives each oil its individual fragrance along with its particular beneficial and healing properties. It is impossible to synthetically produce an essential oil in its exact form.
There are four basic ways to take essential oils: through the lungs (inhalation), through the skin (massage), through the digestive tract (by mouth) and through the absorbent tissues of the body orifices (suppositories or orally absorbed—not swallowed). Holding a drop of a suitable essential oil in the mouth allows them to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Swallowing the oils results in a major portion being destroyed by the stomach acids, so a greater amount of oil is required when swallowed than when simply held in the mouth, but since some oils are too strong to be held comfortably in the mouth, and when internal usage is desired, swallowing oils in a capsule is an effective alternative. The choice of the usage should best fit the need. For more specific usage information, see "Topical Use," "Internal Use" and "Diffusing" below.
We are very enthusiastic about the use of essential oils because we've seen how incredibly they have worked in our lives and for our family members and close friends. Our desire is to share what we know and have experienced and to help others as we have been helped. Of particular interest will be the numerous testimonies provided for you in our Health Care Testimonial section. If you ever have a testimony to share, please send it our way so we can share it with others.
Price, Shirley and Leon, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, p. 67
Stewart, David PhD., D.V.M. The Chemistry of Essential Oils
We want to be sure that every step from growing the plants, harvesting and distilling that the utmost care is taken to ensure that the quality of the essential oil is not compromised. Many oils are marketed today using chemicals and high heat because the fragrance industry is interested in quantity and aroma, not quality and medicinal value. It is imperative to only use high-quality essential oils distilled without chemicals at the optimal time with the appropriate heat to produce the highest quality oil possible. Fragrance oils or chemical components of essential oils produced in a lab bring disappointing results and may even be toxic.
I have personally witnessed an amazing difference between using commonplace aromatic oils and using premium-quality essential oils. Heritage Essential Oils uses only the highest quality oils available. All our essential oils are 100% pure (authentic) and pesticide free. Before purchasing each oil, we verify its quality and will not purchase an inferior oil even if we must wait until the next harvest. We choose oils based on their "therapeutic" value; we consider that every oil and blend may be administered or applied for reasons of health.
We feel in awe of what the Lord has given us in these oils and a great deal of respect for the call we feel to help others learn about using them. I've been privileged to witness some amazing results of using the oils guided by the Lord through prayer. (For more detail on quality, see our Statement of Quality at the bottom of this page.)
There are differing "schools of thought" regarding the proper usage of essential oils. We feel, and our experience has borne out, that if the oil is premium quality, chemical- and pesticide-free, then generally the oil is safe when applied undiluted topically, by the drop, to the bottoms of feet (although some oils are considered "hot," so dilution with a carrier oil such as coconut, olive or jojoba may be in order). Many oils are safe by the drop internally, and almost all essential oils are safe to diffuse. For more specific usage information, see "Topical Use," "Internal Use" and "Diffusing" below.
Please be responsible to know how to use the essential oils. Parents should be aware of an essential oil's properties and actions before using them on children.
If you are new to using essential oils, start slowly and remember that they are highly concentrated, and a little will go a long way. If you are using a new oil or blend for the first time, test on a very small area first to be sure your dilution rate does not cause skin irritation.
Please Note: Essential oils dissolve plastic, so they are not suitable to be used in plastic drinking containers, humidifiers, CPAP masks and asthmatic nebulizers.
No matter how careful you may be, eventually you or someone close to you will inadvertently get essential oil in their eye, usually by rubbing an eye after applying an oil. Water is not a good choice for flushing the eye because it traps the oil and drives it against the eye or skin. Dilute with a vegetable oil, such as olive oil, which will dilute the effect and should bring quick relief. Although essential oils cause a burning sensation in an eye or on delicate, tender tissue, I'm not aware of a case where this caused permanent damage.
If an essential oil applied to the skin causes uncomfortable irritation, dilute the effect with a vegetable oil such as olive oil. Discontinue use until the skin recovers, and then if you want to use it again, use at a dilution rate that doesn't cause irritation. It is wise to test essential oils on a small area before applying to a larger area.
Commonly used "hot" essential oils that are known to have the potential to cause skin irritation include:
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Birch (Betula lenta)
Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Clove (Eugenia aromatica)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Expressed (cold pressed from peel) oils of Lime, Lemon, Orange and Grapefruit (Citrus limetta, limonum, sinensis and paradisi) Our Lime oil is distilled, not expressed
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates)
Oregano (Origanum compactum)
Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Siberian, Balsam or Silver fir (Abies siberica, alba, balsamea)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
For very sensitive skin this list may also include:
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
There is some debate amongst aromatherapists regarding the safe use of essential oils internally. However, in 1996 Michel Vanhove-Geert Devlieghere spoke at the First Australasian Aromatherapy Conference: "The anxiety about internal use of essential oils is due to a lack of knowledge." It is his contention that ingestion of essential oils may, in some circumstances, be safer, or more desirable, than topical application.
Shirley and Leon Price conclude: "It has become unsustainable on scientific grounds to maintain any opposition to ingestion of essential oils. Not all practitioners should prescribe for use in this way because the majority are not competent: it is the prejudice that needs to be addressed - and the inadequate training."
Compared to the vast number of essential oils available, there are relatively few that are possibly not suitable to be taken internally, and there is controversy over that list. When an oil has produced negative reactions, perhaps they were of inferior quality or perhaps it was not used within reason.
If the goal is to get the essential oil into the bloodstream, consider that topical use of essential oils becomes internal use (whether diluted or not), in that the essential oil is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and then to the rest of the body. One then needs to decide which application best suits the need, a drop or two internally or on the skin.
When one practices common sense and moderation in the usage of essential oils and only uses pure, premium-quality oils, we rarely hear of harm, and then that is only temporary.
If you feel to use an essential oil internally, ensure that the oil/blend will be both effective for the presenting condition and tolerable to the digestion system.
Common Methods for Internal Use:
If ingesting *hot* essential oils such as Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Hyssop, Lemongrass, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Birch/Wintergreen, use extra caution and dilute accordingly.
1. Add several drops to an empty capsule and dilute with a carrier oil such as olive oil.
2. Add several drops to a glass of water (never plastic or styrofoam).
3. Drop a single drop directly onto the tongue and hold tongue to roof of mouth for quick absorption. Alternatively, put the drop on the back of a clean hand and lick it off (avoid getting the oil on your lips or it may briefly cause discomfort).
4. A drop or two in a teaspoon, add a bit of honey, lick off with spoon upside down and swallow.
5. A drop on a piece of bread.
What Is a Harmful Dose?
Essential oils have the potential do harm as well as help. When used appropriately, they prove beneficial, but when used outside of reason, they can be harmful. As an example, drinking adequate water is necessary, appropriate and beneficial to our health, but people have died from drinking an inappropriate amount of water. (Death of a Contestant in KDND Radio Contest http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KDND) Both Eucalyptus and Pennyroyal essential oils, for example, have been fatal in 1oz doses (Gurr & Scroggie 1965, Stevenson 1937, Sullivan et al 1979).
As used in aromatherapy today, essential oils have not caused a single death.
Tisserand, Robert, Challenges Facing Essential Oil Therapy: Proof of Safety, Presented to the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) Conference in Denver, Colorado, October 18-21 2007.
Price, Shirley and Leon, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, pgs. 223-225
Since essential oils are very potent and some may be irritating to the skin, when using an oil for the first time exercise precaution and test a single drop on your wrist. If you experience irritation (redness or uncomfortable stinging) simply apply a carrier oil to dilute the effect. Carrier oils include any vegetable or nut oil such as: Coconut, Jojoba, Olive.
Some people are more sensitive than others. Ultimately the user must be responsible to take precautions necessary to avoid misusing the oils or experiencing discomfort. Use special caution when applying the oils on children or those mentally challenged who may not be able to adequately communicate discomfort.
One of the best and safest places to apply essential oil is to the bottoms of feet where the oil is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. According to Jean Valnet, M.D., essential oils can affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes. There is only one oil that I'm aware of that is not recommended topically: Western Red Cedar. Most oils can be applied to bottoms of feet undiluted. We apply 1-2 drops to the bottom of one foot and then rub the bottoms of both feet together. If fighting infection, we feel that 1-2 drops 4x daily is more effective than 8 drops once a day.
Using a carrier oil lessens the intensity of *hot* oils, so when applying *hot* essential oils to the skin, we suggest that you dilute 1-2 drops in about a tablespoon of carrier oil. Apply to a small area of the skin first to see how your skin responds. For other oils, dilute 5-15 drops per tablespoon. You can adjust with more or less carrier oil once you see how your body reacts.
*Hot* oils include: Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Lemongrass, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Birch/Wintergreen. Start slowly and use common sense to find the best way to enjoy the benefits of using these wonderful oils.
Suggested points of application are:
Crown of head
Over vital organs
Bottoms of feet
Top of feet
Other than simply inhaling the oils, the easiest and simplest way of putting essential oils into the air for inhalation is to use an aromatic diffuser. A cold air diffuser uses room-temperature air to blow the oil up through a nebulizer/atomizer. This creates a micro-fine mist that is dispersed into the air. The oils will then remain suspended for several hours to freshen and improve the quality of the air. The anti-viral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties of the oils kill bacteria and help reduce fungus and mold. Essential oils, when diffused, have been found to reduce the amount of airborne chemicals and metallics. Many essential oils, such as Lemongrass, Lemon and our blends of Purify, Citrus Blessing and Plague Defense are highly antibacterial and are extremely effective for eliminating and destroying airborne germs and bacteria.
Unlike candles or aroma lamps, cold-air diffusers disperse oils without heating or burning, which can render the oil therapeutically less beneficial and possibly create toxic compounds. Burned oils may become carcinogenic. Research (from Essential Oil Desk Reference by Essential Science Publishing, Third Edition) shows that cold air diffusing certain oils may:
• Reduce and/or eliminate bacteria, fungus, mold and unpleasant odors
• Improve concentration, alertness, and mental clarity
• Relax the mind and body, relieve tension and clear the mind
• Stimulate neurotransmitters
• Stimulate secretion of endorphins
• Stimulate growth hormone production and receptivity
• Digest petrochemicals on the receptor sites
• Improve the secretion of IgA antibodies that fight candida
• Improve digestive function
• Improve hormonal balance
• Relieve headaches
• Dispel odors
Cinnamon Bark, Oregano and the oils found in our Plague Defense blend were all tested by Weber State University and shown to kill 100% of the airborne bacteria present when diffused into the atmosphere.
Robert Tisserand writes that, "there is no documented evidence of inhaled allergy to any essential oil, the only existing evidence relates to fragrances."*
If you have a humidifier, you may be able to secure a cotton cloth sprinkled with a few drops of oil in front of the escaping mist. Keep in mind that essential oils dissolve plastic and may damage your humidifier if put inside with the water, and the cloth with the oils on it may "etch" into the plastic case, so you'll need to be careful how you attach this cloth.
Essential oils may degrade plastics in CPAP masks and nebulizers used by asthmatics.
*Tisserand, Robert, Challenges Facing Essential Oil Therapy: Proof of Safety, Presented to the Alliance ofInternational Aromatherapists(AIA) Conference in Denver,Colorado,
October 18-21 2007.
Are pure, distilled essential oils potential allergens?
Dr. David Stewart writes in The Chemistry of Essential Oils that allergens are usually composed of proteins and polypeptides, which are relatively large molecules. (Poison ivy, oak and sumac are exceptions.) There are no proteins or polypeptides in essential oils which are very small molecules. If they were large molecules, they would not be volatile or aromatic.
Dr. Stewart writes that there has never been a documented instance of an antigen-antibody response to an essential oil. Essential oil antibodies have never been found or detected in anyone. Essential oils are not and cannot be allergens. There is no such thing as an essential oil allergy.
Oils that are not distilled, such as citrus oils and absolutes, may be potential allergens. Fatty oils, because of their larger molecules, can be allergens as well. This would be your carrier oils such as olive, almond, sesame oils and so on.
According to Dr. Stewart, it is "impossible for an essential oil to cause an allergy,"but he explains that sometimes people do have allergy-like reactions when using essential oils, but these reactions are not allergenic in nature. They are detox reactions that are easily confused with allergic reactions.
Premium grade (pure and high quality) essential oils are detoxifying to the body, which is a good thing. We are exposed to many products in our environment today that accumulate in our bodies. Pharmaceuticals are also toxins to the body. Thankfully, pure essential oils are cleansers of foreign substances. They can "bind" with substances that are not necessarily soluble in water and make them soluble so they can be ushered out of the body through the blood and lymphatic system and eventually through the bowels, kidneys and sweat glands.
Essential oils are a good choice when one seeks a way to cleanse the body from a buildup of medications. But be warned: the more medications one takes, the greater the buildup and the more likely oils will bring them to the surface in a reaction.
Sometimes referred to as a "healing crisis" or known as the "Herxheimer Reaction," presents symptoms that make you feel worse as the body deals with cleaning out impurities and restoring balance. Such reactions are temporary and can occur immediately or within several day or even weeks of a detox. They usually pass within 1-3 days but can last for weeks. Some cleansing protocols causes a large scale die-off of bacteria, and a significant amount of endotoxins (toxins within the bacteria itself) are released into the body. The range of possible symptoms of a healing crisis are:
headache (possibly caused by buildup of toxins in the blood or acidity)
aches and pain similar to the flu
fever (usually low grade)
drop in blood pressure
skin eruption including boils, hives, rashes
cold or flu-like symptoms
strong emotions and/or mood swings
How to Cope?
Dr. Stewart explains that when detoxification takes place at a rate greater than can be eliminated through our kidneys, colon and respiration, then allergy-like symptoms can occur. Given enough time, accompanied by a cleansing regimen, detox reactions to oils will cease and the oils that had caused a reaction initially will no longer do so. Dr. Stewart feels that this is an indication that cleansing is complete and proof that the reaction was no allergy.
Dr. Stewart suggests that when detox happens, stop using the oils for a while or reduce the frequency and/or quantity in use, which will slow down the release of toxins. Focus on cleansing procedures with plenty of water (at least ½ your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily), fiber and fresh foods. Fasting also helps to flush out the toxins. Enemas have been shown to help as well.
Gradually use the oils again and proceed slowly to observe how your body handles them. Eventually the offending toxins will be gone and you won't have the unpleasant reactions to the oils any more. As a practical tip, people who are more acidic (low pH) are more prone to adverse detox reactions, such as skin rashes, than those with a more alkaline (and healthy) body chemistry. Eliminate as many toxic exposures as you can, such as synthetic compounds and petrochemicals found in most personal care products and many household cleaners.
Robert Tisserand, aromatherapy author and educator wrote: "There is no documented evidence of inhaled allergy to any essential oil, the only existing evidence relates to [synthetic] fragrances."
Our Experience with Reactions
We have very rarely heard from someone who has experienced any problems using essential oils. These are the cases we can recall:
1. A well-meaning mother applied a *hot* blend to her child's chest with insufficient dilution or testing it first. The child's skin reddened and the child cried. Then the mother put her into a warm bath to wash it off, which only exacerbated the discomfort and spread the essential oil and reaction. Never try to reduce the negative effect with water - it will trap the essential oil against the skin. Warmth opens the pores and increases the discomfort. Always dilute with a fatty carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil. This is not a case of "allergic reaction" but rather a case of skin that was burned by the inefficiently diluted use of a *hot* essential oil. [*Hot* oils include: Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Hyssop, Lemongrass, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Birch/Wintergreen.]
2. A child had been on topical corticosteroids for years to control eczema, and the mother wanted try essential oils instead. She applied a blend that has been helpful for many others all over her child's body, and the child's skin reacted negatively (we are not sure how quickly the reaction appeared). Was this a detox such as what Dr. Stewart described? We caution people to test essential oils on a very small area first to see how the skin will react, and then if no reaction occurs to apply a little more and slowly increase the application area. It might possibly be the case that this was a steroid withdrawal rash. For more information about Red Skin Syndrome, you may find these links helpful:
3. After using commercial deodorants for 20+ years I switched to using a natural deodorant with essential oils in it. I was warned that eventually my underarms would probably detox in the form of boils. Sure enough, after a year of using the natural essential oil deodorant, during a time of burning the candle on both ends, the boils showed up. I took our Warrior blend internally, and within a day the boils had significantly reduced in size, and I've never experienced subsequent detoxing symptoms. Some might argue that this was not a detox. Call it what you may, I don't believe it was an allergic reaction. I have continued to use the same natural deodorant to this day with no problems.
4. We've heard from two ladies who used our Circulation blend on their chest for heart issues and the use eventually caused skin irritation. One lady used it without any problems until after she had a heart attack and returned home from the hospital. She wondered if perhaps it was a detox to the drugs she'd used during her hospital stay. The other lady was going to wait a while and try it again diluted, to see how she reacted.
5. In every case we know of, when a person complains that the smell of a pure essential oil gives them a headache, once the person balances their pH, the offending aroma is no longer a problem, and in most cases, the person comes to like the aroma that once caused them grief.
Here's a headache/pH testimony from Brenda:
Having just recently purchased my first diffuser I was excited to start trying different oil blends. I purchased Peaceful as my first "non illness" blend. I plugged it in but was really turned off by the smell. I developed a headache within minutes. After turning it off and wondering why on earth I had bought it, I emailed Linda with my issue. She emailed me back stating what a popular blend this was and wondering if my reaction might be due to my body being too acidic. I have run acidic in the past, so I spent the next few days trying to balance myself. I then tried the diffuser again and thoroughly enjoyed it. I realized that it had a strong citrus base that I had not been able to detect the first time. Not only will I be able to enjoy this blend, but I will now be able to use it as an indicator that my body is running acidic.
The Chemistry of Essential Oils by David Stewart, Ph. D., D.N. M., pages 394, 462-465
Tisserand, Robert, Challenges Facing Essential Oil Therapy: Proof of Safety, Presented to the Alliance ofInternational Aromatherapists (AIA) Conference in Denver,Colorado,
October 18-21 2007.
Heritage Essential Oils insists on using only the finest quality, therapeutic-grade, pure essential oils available. We select Certified Organic, Organic (same as certified organic except not certified), Wild Crafted (self-propagating, uncultivated, grown and harvested by hand in the wild), and ethically farmed essential oils. All of Heritage Essential Oils are GC/MS analyzed and certified to be pesticide free. Our essential oils far exceed AFNOR and ISO quality standards and are subjected to rigorous mass spectrometry and gas chromatography testing to ensure exact composition and activity. We believe our oils are among the safest and most beneficial essential oils available.
All our essential oils are GC/MS analyzed for quality assurance and meet strict aroma and analytical requirements before they are accepted for purchase. Analysis of Gas Chromatographs (GC) provides valuable information about the nature of the pure essential oils that we purchase from around the world. GC's usually vary from batch to batch due to climate conditions and location in which the plant was grown and harvested. While we recognize that conditions and GC's may vary, there is a standard of value that each oil must meet in order to pass the "test" of highest quality and effectiveness.
The choice of the process used in application of Heritage Essential Oils' products is the sole responsibility of the user.
Information and statements regarding Heritage Essential Oils' products have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health condition or disease.
We do not make any therapeutic claims for any Dietary Supplements in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act and FDA regulations.
Heritage Essential Oils and any of its directors, employees, representatives or those involved in blending and bottling the oils will not be liable for damages arising out of or in connection with the use of their products. This is a comprehensive limitation of liability that applies to all damages of any kind, including (without limitation) compensatory, direct, indirect or consequential damages, income or profit and claims of third parties. We disclaim any liability if the user uses or prescribes any remedy or essential oil, natural or otherwise, for him/herself or another. Please consult a licensed healthcare professional should a need be indicated.