What are Essential Oils?

essential-oilsWhat are essential oils? I have put together a quick breakdown of what exactly essential oils are below.

Essential oils are, “volatile, natural, complex compounds characterized by a strong odour and are formed by aromatic plants as secondary metabolites” (Bakkali, Averbeck & Idaomar, 2008, p. 447). Buckle (2009, p. 389) further describes essential oils as, “the steam distillates derived from aromatic plants.” Essential oils are composed of numerous and complex mixtures of molecules (Bakkali, Averbeck, S & D, & Idaomar, 2008). Essential oils have been in use for thousands of years longer than any conventional medication and have been prized for centuries for their healing and preserving properties. Plant essential oils are indeed essential to the protection of the plant and work as antifungals, antivirals, insecticides and antibacterials. These may also play a role in the attraction of insects for pollination. Furthermore, the oils can be synthesized by all of the plants components from the seeds to the flowers and can be stored in the plants cells (Bakkali, et al., 2008).

There has been a shift in the last 100 years or so away from natural medicine but it is interesting to note that many conventional pharmaceutical drugs are made from plants. However, these medicines isolate the part of the plant that they feel is the active agent and most often it is the synergy of the different plant components that lend to their efficiency in helping the body to heal from the inside out.

Another key component that is often overlooked when many decide to try essential oils is that the quality of the essential oil is absolutely a key factor in whether you will get the desired results from the essential oil you are using.


Bakkali, F., Averbeck, S., Averbeck, D., Idaomar, M. (2008). Biological effects of essential oils-


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