What essential oil is good for allergies young living
Little is known about how these oils might affect young, growing bodies, but there is some evidence that they can cause harm.
One trap parents may drop into is thinking that these oils are replacements for evidence-based treatments, according to Dr. Smith. He told me that the parents of one of his young patients had tried treating their child’s croup (a respiratory infection that causes difficulty breathing and a barking cough) with a variety of oils. Eventually, the illness progressed so much that they needed to take the kid to the emergency room.
“While the essential oils didn’t hurt the child,” Dr.
Smith said, “the delay in care allowed the condition to get worse.”
But by far, the greatest harm to children occurs when highly concentrated oils are accidentally swallowed, spilled onto the skin or splashed into the eyes. In 2018, poison control centers in the United States recorded 17,178 such incidents in children under 12 — an 85 percent increase over the number of cases reported in 2014. (This is according to an analysis that the American Association of Poison Control Centers conducted for The New York Times for this story.)
A teaspoon of camphor oil, a type of oil extracted from the wood of a camphor tree, for instance, can cause seizures in children under 5 if swallowed, according to Nena Bowman, Pharm.D., managing director of the Tennessee Poison Center.
A similar dose of wintergreen oil, a cousin to aspirin, can cause rapid labored breathing, fever and — in severe cases — organ failure and death.
Even as little as half a teaspoon of commonly used essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree oils can cause sedation and difficulty breathing in little ones, Dr. Bowman said.
“The exposures we see are almost every in children and almost every accidental because essential oils aren’t always stored properly,” Dr. Bowman said, “they need to be kept up and out of the reach of children.”
Applying concentrated oils to the skin are common causes of adverse reactions too, said Robert Tisserand, an aromatherapy expert and author of the textbook “Essential Oil Safety.” In nature, oils with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties such as clove, oregano and thyme kill invading bacteria by rupturing their cell membranes, Tisserand said.
“And they do a similar thing to your skin cells and the mucous membranes that line and protect the inside of your body,” he said. “If you put undiluted oregano oil on your skin or in your mouth, you’ll own an irritant reaction — a extremely nasty one. The skin will go red and burn love crazy.”
Children are more likely to own side effects from essential oil exposures than adults are, said Dr. Weber from the N.I.H. “They are still developing, which makes their brains and other systems more sensitive to potential toxicity from essential oils.” Their livers and kidneys, for instance, are likely to be less efficient at processing the compounds.
Young Living provides safety information to consumers and asks its sales distributors to share that information with their customers, according to a company spokeswoman.
“It’s significant that every things are done in moderation — specifically where children are concerned,” she noted, adding that Young Living offers product lines where the essential oil is already diluted in a carrier oil, making it safer for kids.
Essential oils own been used in folk medicine throughout history. The earliest recorded mention of the techniques and methods used to produce essential oils is believed to be that of Ibn al-Baitar (1188–1248), an Al-Andalusian (Muslim Spain) physician, pharmacist and chemist.
Rather than refer to essential oils themselves, modern works typically discuss specific chemical compounds which the essential oils are composed of, such as referring to methyl salicylate rather than «oil of wintergreen».
Interest in essential oils has revived in recent decades with the popularity of aromatherapy, a branch of alternative medicine that uses essential oils and other aromatic compounds.
Oils are volatilized, diluted in a carrier oil and used in massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer, heated over a candle flame, or burned as incense.
Medical applications proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to remedies for cancer and often are based solely on historical accounts of use of essential oils for these purposes. Claims for the efficacy of medical treatments, and treatment of cancers in specific, are now subject to regulation in most countries.
But can they improve your health?
Some sellers — along with specific social media posts and websites that expound the oils’ benefits — attest with a helpful of evangelical zeal that certain essential oils can assist treat a range of ailments, from attention deficit disorder and depression to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, skin abrasions, infections, teething pain and more.
Companies commonly market essential oils to parents for their purported ability to boost kids’ immune systems and to improve focus, mood and sleep.
But the bulk of the research done on essential oils has been performed in petri dishes and on rodents. “There are few human studies, and they are mostly little and of low quality,” Dr. Smith said.
And of the research that has been done on humans, said Dr. Smith, the bulk of the studies on essential oils’ effectiveness and safety has been performed on adults. A few studies in children propose that inhaling lavender oil can own a calming effect; that topical applications of tea tree oil may be useful against acne, lice and warts; and that peppermint oil capsules may assist with irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain.
However, there’s no evidence to support essential oils’ more common uses, such as for treating “fever, cough, congestion, allergies, teething symptoms and (the one that makes me the most frustrated) behavior problems,” Dr.
Smith wrote in a column for Cook Children’s Health Care System in 2015.
Unlike with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, the makers of essential oils do not own to prove to the Food and Drug istration that their products are safe and effective for certain conditions, or even that they contain what they tell they do on the label. And by law, oil makers are not allowed to advertise that their products can prevent or treat disease.
But that hasn’t stopped some sellers from making druglike claims.
Within the past five years, the F.D.A. has issued more than half a dozen warning letters to companies marketing cosmetic products containing essential oils, or the oils themselves. In 2014, for example, the agency stated that paid consultants for both doTerra and Young Living were claiming, without evidence, that some of their essential oils could be useful against conditions such as autism, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, viral infections (including Ebola) and more.
In response to the F.D.A.’s letter, a spokeswoman for doTerra told The New York Times that the company has created a “compliance team” of more than 50 people that “crawls the web to ensure wellness advocates are not propagating noncompliant claims,” and that the company takes corrective action if needed.
Young Living also has a strict compliance policy, according to a company spokeswoman. “Consequences for violating said policy are swift and consistent,” she said, “up to and including the revoking of membership and its privileges.”
The new oil boom
Stroll through any department store, vitamin store or farmers market and you’re bound to discover little vials filled with strong-smelling oil. These pungent elixirs are extracted from fragrant botanicals, love lavender, citrus, peppermint and cloves. “If you ponder about when you squeeze a lemon, the extremely strong citrus smell that you get is the essential oil being released from the skin,” said Wendy Weber, Ph.D., N.D., chief of the clinical research branch at the National Middle for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health.
Sales revenue from these potent plant extracts in the United States increased by almost 40 percent from 2014 to 2018.
By 2025, they’re projected to reach more than $5 billion in entire sales, according to market research firm Grand View Research.
But they’re not just being sold in shops and online. Sheie said that she’s increasingly had to politely sidestep sales pitches from people in her social circles who are selling the oils for two of the largest essential oil companies, doTerra and Young Living. These manufacturers use multilevel-marketing strategies, where the people who sell their products profit from their own sales as well as those of others they recruit (think Avon or Herbalife).
“I most often run into it at church and on social media, especially in my mom groups,” she said.
How to safely use essential oils around your children
Because there’s no solid evidence on the efficacy and safety of essential oils, major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians own not issued recommendations for using them with children.
If you still desire to use the oils on or around kids, discuss it with your child’s doctor first, advised Dr. Anna Esparham, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., who has been trained in aromatherapy.
And heed the following advice.
In general, diffusing essential oils into the air is safer than using them on the skin. (But even then, it can be irritating to some. Never diffuse them in classrooms or in public spaces.)
Even diluted oils can cause irritation, so always do a patch test: Rub the oil on a little area of skin and wait 24 hours to see if there’s any redness, swelling or rash. (If there is irritation, stop using the oil immediately.)
Always hold oils away from the eyes, nose and mouth. And do not apply essential oils to children with sensitive skin, eczema or other chronic skin conditions, as they can be irritating, Dr.
You can apply certain oils — such as chamomile, cypress and helichrysum — to the skin of children 3 and up, Dr. Esparham said, but you should dilute them first (using about 3 to 6 drops of oil per 1 ounce of a “carrier oil,” such as jojoba or almond oil). Or, use a product specifically formulated for children.
Don’t diffuse essential oils around infants under 6 months ancient. For older babies and children, it’s reasonably safe to diffuse certain oils such as cedarwood, ginger or sweet orange for up to an hour while monitoring your kid, said Dr. Esparham.
Don’t flavor food or drink with essential oils, even if they are labeled “food safe.” They can be harmful if swallowed, and could damage the lining of the mouth or digestive tract.
Avoid applying citrus oils — such as those made from grapefruit, lemon or orange — to the skin, as they can react with ultraviolet radiation from the sun to cause burns, rashes or skin discoloration.
Avoid using synthetic oils, Dr. Esparham said, because the chemicals are more likely to cause side effects such as nausea or headache, skin irritation or breathing problems than more “pure” oils. Nonsynthetic oils are typically more expensive than synthetics — around $12 to $25 per vial.
You can spot them by looking for their Latin names on their labels, love “100 percent Cedrus atlantica oil” for cedar oil, she said.
Never add undiluted essential oils to bath water. Oil and water don’t stir, so undiluted drops could irritate the skin. You can, however, add diluted drops, said Dr. Esparham. Use 2 drops of oil to 1 ounce of liquid Castile soap or a carrier oil.
Store essential oils in a cool, dry put away from direct sunlight and out of the reach of children. Dr. Esparham advised keeping oils for no longer than a year as rancid oils are more likely to irritate the skin or trigger allergic reactions.
If your kid develops a rash or skin irritation; headaches; nausea or vomiting; coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing; or any other symptoms while using oils, stop using them immediately and call your doctor.
Never use oils as a replacement for medical care.
(If you or someone you know may own been exposed to a dangerous substance, contact poison control immediately at 1-800-222-1222 or go to poisonhelp.org for assistance.)
Teresa Carr is an award-winning journalist based in Texas who specializes in science and health. She is a previous Consumer Reports editor and author, a 2018 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she pens the Matters of Fact column for Undark.
Over the final 50 years, the rise in prevalence of allergic diseases and disorders has continued in the industrialized world. Allergic rhinitis, the medical term for hay fever and what’s behind the unpleasant seasonal allergy symptoms we every know so well, develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment.
Today, 40 to 60 million Americans are affected by allergic rhinitis and the numbers continue to grow, especially in children.
When left untreated, allergies can cause blocked and runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and an impaired sense of smell — but this is in less severe cases. For some people, allergies can be life threatening, leading to inflammation and shortness of breath.
People who suffer from allergies are often told to avoid triggers, but that is almost impossible when the seasons are changing and our immune systems are impaired by the food industry and environmental toxins.
And some allergy meds are linked to dementia and other scary health effects, too. Thankfully, some powerful essential oils serve as a natural and safe way to treat the symptoms of allergies and boost our immune systems. These essential oils for allergies own the ability to chemically support the body and assist it to overcome hypersensitivity.
How Do Essential Oils Fight Allergies?
An allergic reaction begins in the immune system. An allergen is a substance that tricks the immune system — making it ponder that the allergen is an invader.
The immune system then overreacts to the allergen, which is really a harmless substance, and produces Immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing the allergic reaction.
The most common causes of an allergic reaction include:
- Insect stings
- Animal dander
These allergens will trigger symptoms in the nose, throat, lungs, ears, sinuses and lining of the stomach or on the skin.
The question here still remains — if these common causes own been around for thousands of years, then why own the allergy rates increased in recent history?
One of the theories behind explaining the increase in allergies has to do withinflammation, the root of most diseases. The body responds in a certain way to an allergen because the immune system is in overdrive. When the body is already dealing with high inflammation, any allergen sets off an increased reaction.
That means that when the body’s immune system is overworked and stressed, introducing an allergen sends the body into overreaction.
If the immune system and inflammation within the body was balanced, the reaction to the allergen would be normal; however, today these reactions are exaggerated and lead to the next unneeded allergic reaction.
One of the most amazing benefits of essential oils are their ability to fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Essential oils for allergies will assist to detoxify the body and fight infections, bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and harmful toxins. They reduce the bodies susceptibility to exterior sources and reduce the overreaction of the immune system when it is faced with a harmless intruder.
Some exceptional essential oils even work to relieve respiratory conditions and increase sweat and urination — helping with the elimination of toxins.
Top 5 Essential Oils for Allergies
1. Peppermint Oil
Inhaling diffusedpeppermint oilcan oftentimes immediately unclog the sinuses and offer relief to scratchy throats. Peppermint acts as an expectorant and provides relief for allergies, as well as colds, coughs, sinusitis, asthma and bronchitis. It has the power to discharge phlegm and reduce inflammation — a leading cause of allergic reactions.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the effects of peppermint oil in the tracheal rings of rats.
The results propose that peppermint oil is a relaxant and exhibits antispasmodic activity, inhibiting contractions that causes you to cough. (1)
Another study published in the European Journal of Medical Research suggests that peppermint oil treatment has anti-inflammatory effects — reducing the symptoms of chronic inflammatory disorders such as allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma. (2)
Remedy: Diffuse five drops of peppermint essential oil at home to unclog sinuses and treat a scratchy throat. This will also assist to relax the nasal muscles, enabling the body to clear out mucus and allergens love pollen.
To reduce inflammation, take 1–2 drops of pure peppermint essential oil internally once a day.
It can be added to a glass of water, cup of tea or smoothie.
Peppermint oil can also be applied topically to the chest, back of neck and temples. For people with sensitive skin, it is best to dilute peppermint with coconut or jojoba oil before topical application.
2. Basil Oil
Basil essential oilreduces the inflammatory response of allergens. It also supports the adrenal glands, which are involved in producing over 50 hormones that drive almost every bodily function. Essentially, basil essential oil is helping your body to react appropriately to a threat by rushing blood to your brain, heart and muscles.
Basil oil also helps to detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses, while fighting inflammation, pain and fatigue.
Studies prove that basil oil shows antimicrobial activity and can kill bacteria, yeast and mold that can lead to asthma and respiratory damage. (3,4)
Remedy: To fight inflammation and regulate the overreaction of the immune system when faced with an allergen, take one drop of basil oil internally by adding it to soup, salad dressing or any other dish. To support the respiratory system, dilute 2–3 drops of basil oil with equal parts coconut oil and apply topically to the chest, back of neck and temples.
3. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil opens up the lungs and sinuses, thereby improving circulation and reducing symptoms of allergies.
Studies own shown that it produces a freezing sensation in the nose that helps to improve airflow. (5)
Eucalyptus contains citronellal, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; it also works as an expectorant, helping to cleanse the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that are acting as allergens.
A 2011 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that eucalyptus essential oil was an effective treatment for upper respiratory tract infections.
Patients who were treated with eucalyptus spray reported an improvement in the severity of their most debilitating respiratory tract infection symptoms compared to participants in the placebo group. Improvement was defined as a reduction of sore throat, hoarseness or cough. (6)
Remedy: To treat respiratory issues associated with allergies, diffuse five drops of eucalyptus at home or apply it topically to the chest and temples. To clear the nasal passages and relieve congestion, pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and add 1–2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.
Then put a towel over your head and inhale deeply for 5–10 minutes.
4. Lemon Oil
Lemon oil supports lymphatic system drainage and helps with overcoming respiratory conditions. Studies own shown that lemon essential oil inhibits the growth of bacteria and boosts the immune system.
When diffused at home, lemon oil can kill bacteria and eliminate allergy triggers in the air. (7,8)
Adding 1–2 drops of lemon essential oil to water also helps with pH balance. Lemon waterimproves immune function and detoxifies the body. It stimulates the liver and flushes out toxins that can lead to inflammation and an overreactive immune system. Lemon water also stimulates white blood cell production, which is vital for immune system function because it helps to protect the body.
Lemon essential oil can also be used to disinfect your home, without depending on alcohol or bleach. It will remove bacteria and pollutants from your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom — reducing the triggers inside of your home and keeping the air clean for you and your family.
This can be especially helpful as the seasons change and allergens from exterior are being brought into your home on shoes and clothes.
Remedy: Add lemon oil to your laundry detergent, stir a couple of drops with water and spray it on your couches, sheets, curtains and carpets.
5. Tea Tree Oil
This powerful oil can destroy airborne pathogens that cause allergies.
Diffusing tea tree oilin the home will kill mold, bacteria and fungi. It is an antiseptic agent and it has anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree oil can be applied to the skin to kill bacteria and microorganisms; it can also be used as a household cleaner to disinfect the home and eliminate allergens. (9)
A 2000 study conducted in Germany found that tea tree oil exhibits antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts and fungi.
These microbes lead to inflammation and force our immune system to work on overdrive. (10)
Remedy: Use tea tree oil on skin rashes and hives or as a household cleaner. When using tea tree topically, add 2–3 drops to a clean cotton ball and gently apply to the area of concern. For people with sensitive skin, dilute tea tree with a carrier oil first, love coconut or jojoba oil.
Lavender has been utilized for centuries as a therapeutic and cosmetic agent. Its essential oil remains a favorite ingredient in personal care and household products .
Despite its potential therapeutic uses, lavender oil has been associated with ACD. In one cross-sectional study of 1483 Japanese patients suspected of having contact dermatitis secondary to cosmetic use, patch-testing data collected over a 9-year period showed an increase in positive reaction rates to lavender from 1.1 % in 1990 to 13.9 % in 1998 . ACD due to lavender often occurs in massage therapists who protest a high prevalence of hand dermatitis from oils, lotions, and creams due to occupational exposure [16, 17].
The main two components of lavender essential oil are linalyl acetate and linalool, constituting 40 and 50 % of natural lavender oil, respectively [18•].
Both are feeble allergens and sensitizers in pure form . Linalyl acetate is a perfume terpene frequently found in cosmetic and household products and is hypothesized to act as a prehapten or a low-sensitizing compound that transforms into a hapten via oxidation following exposure to air [18•]. A patch-testing study of 1717 patients conducted by Hagvall et al. resulted in 2.2 % positive reactions to oxidized linalyl acetate [18•]. Thus, in the oxidized form, linalyl acetate may be a more prevalent perfume allergen than previously acknowledged [18•].
Peppermint oil, extracted from Mentha piperita, is a perennial herb in the Labiatae family used as a flavoring agent and perfume in lip balms and moisturizers and can also be found in mouthwash, toothpaste, dental floss, breath fresheners, chewing gum, and teas [6•, 13, 14].
Topical preparations of peppermint oil own been used to relieve pruritus and inflammation. Constituents of peppermint oil include menthol, menthone, carvone, pulegone, and limonene, the final of which is gaining increasing recognition as an emerging allergen [6•]. ACD to peppermint oil has been reported with direct application to skin .
A 2010 case series published by Tran et al. examined four patients with ACD of the lips and perioral area following exposure to a Burt’s Bees lip balm product containing peppermint oil. Patch testing confirmed peppermint oil as the likely source of ACD in every four individuals .
As a new addition to the NACDG standard screening series of 70 allergens (allergEAZE; SmartPractice, Calgary, Canada) in 2009 [6•], 2 % Mentha piperita oil in petrolatum showed a 0.4 % prevalence of positive patch test reactions in results collected as part of the 2011–2012 NACDG patch-testing data [12••].
How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies
Food Allergies — Take 1–2 drops of lemon or peppermint oil internally to relieve the symptoms of a food allergy.
This will assist to detoxify the body and eliminate the allergens through sweat or urination.
Skin Rash & Hives — Use tea tree or basil oil topically to treat skin rashes and hives.
Add 2–3 drops to a cotton ball and apply to the affected area. Layering oils over the liver area is another way to treat skin irritations because it helps the liver to flush out toxins that burden the skin. Dilute 3–4 drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and rub it into the liver area.
Seasonal Allergies — Disinfect your home with lemon and tea tree oil; this will eliminate triggers and cleanse the air and your furniture. Add 40 drops of lemon oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil to a 16-ounce spray bottle. Fill the bottle with pure water and a little bit of white vinegar and spray the mixture on any area in your home.
To reduce respiratory issues associated with seasonal allergies, attempt my Homemade Vapor Rub; it delivers a soothing feeling that will open up the airways and make it easier to breathe.
Allergy Blend — Combine 2–3 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil and massage the mixture into the temples, behind the ears and into the bottoms of the feet.
Eucalyptus oil has been used medicinally for over 100 years for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties .
It is found in topical antiseptics, soaps, mouthwashes, balms, and inhalants for colds and the flu and is now increasingly used in body creams, shower gels, and facial cleansers . Topically applied eucalyptus oil is generally regarded as safe, but rare reports of ACD caused by eucalyptus oil do exist and point to its main constituent, 1,8-cineole, as the causative allergen [19, 20]. Patch-testing data using 2 % eucalyptus oil in petrolatum indicate a 0.24–1.5 % prevalence of positive reactions [21, 22, 23].
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, is known for its antimicrobial and therapeutic effects [6•].
It is now widely used in facial moisturizers, shampoos, massage oils, aromatherapy candles, compresses, and detergents [6•]. Several studies own reported increasing prevalence of positive reactions to tea tree oil [9, 10, 11]. Data from recent North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) patch test results indicate a 0.9 % prevalence of positive patch test reactions to tea tree oil [12••]. The allergen most likely responsible for the sensitizing property of tea tree oil is terpinen-4-ol, also responsible for its beneficial antimicrobial effects [6•].
Possible Side Effects
When using these special essential oil for allergies, I don’t recommend that you take tea tree oil internally; it’s best to use tea tree aromatically or topically.
When using any of these oils topically, dilute with a carrier oil, especially when using on sensitive skin or one sensitive areas, love under the eyes or on the neck.
When using essential oils internally, a little goes a endless way. Only consume 1–2 drops a day for one month. Then take a two-week break and start the treatment again.
Read Next:9 Natural Ways to Treat Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Growing popularity of products containing essential oils has led to a rise in reports of ACD linked to use of these products. Essential oils are aromatic substances of variable composition typically extracted from plants and animals.
They are frequently used in cosmetics and perfumes . Essential oils are, in part, made up of sesquiterpenes, a diverse group of compounds naturally found in insects and a number of plant families, including Compositae plants. Sesquiterpenes represent a known cause of allergic reactions . Although the exact frequency of these reactions is not known, ACD attributed to essential oils is disproportionately higher in certain occupational groups, including massage and aroma therapists, cosmetics manufacturers, hairdressers, and beauticians .
Ylang-ylang oil, derived from the flowers of the Cananga odorata tree, is found in a wide variety of household items, including scented candles and soaps .
Because it is purported to decrease anxiety and own a soothing effect on the skin, it has become a favorite ingredient in cosmetic products love moisturizing creams, massage oils, and perfumes. Ylang-ylang oil is a known cause of ACD and contains linalool, geraniol derivatives, and isoeugenol. Isoeugenol is the component responsible for the sensitizing capacity of ylang-ylang oil .
Frequency of allergy to ylang-ylang oil has decreased in Japan since the reduction of the maximum concentration of isoeugenol in cosmetic products by the International Perfume Association [24, 25].
Among the essential oils, ylang-ylang oil was found to be the most likely to illicit a positive reaction, according to patch-testing data from the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology, a contact allergy surveillance network in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria . Occupational sensitization to ylang-ylang oil is of higher risk for manicurists, hairdressers, aromatherapists, and cosmetics manufacturers .
For the Midnight Oil album, see Essential Oils (album).
Not to be confused with essential fatty acid.
Hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile (easily evaporated at normal temperatures) chemical compounds from plants.
Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetherolea, or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An essential oil is «essential» in the sense that it contains the «essence of» the plant’s fragrance—the characteristic perfume of the plant from which it is derived. The term «essential» used here does not mean indispensable or usable by the human body, as with the terms essential amino acid or essential fatty acid, which are so called because they are nutritionally required by a given living organism.
Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam.
Other processes include expression, solvent extraction, sfumatura, absolute oil extraction, resin tapping, wax embedding, and freezing pressing. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products.
Essential oils are often used for aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine in which healing effects are ascribed to aromatic compounds. Aromatherapy may be useful to induce relaxation, but there is not sufficient evidence that essential oils can effectively treat any condition. Improper use of essential oils may cause harm including allergic reactions and skin irritation, and children may be particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of improper use.
Main article: Extraction (fragrance)
See also: Distillation
Most common essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, tea tree oil, patchouli, and eucalyptus are distilled.
Raw plant material, consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or peel, is put into an alembic (distillation apparatus) over water. As the water is heated, the steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the volatile compounds. The vapors flow through a coil, where they condense back to liquid, which is then collected in the receiving vessel.
Most oils are distilled in a single process. One exception is ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) which is purifed through a fractional distillation.
The recondensed water is referred to as a hydrosol, hydrolat, herbal distillate, or plant water essence, which may be sold as another fragrant product.
Hydrosols include rose water, lavender water, lemon balm, clary sage, and orange blossom water. The use of herbal distillates in cosmetics is increasing.
Most citrus peel oils are expressed mechanically or cold-pressed (similar to olive oil extraction). Due to the relatively large quantities of oil in citrus peel and low cost to grow and harvest the raw materials, citrus-fruit oils are cheaper than most other essential oils. Lemon or sweet orange oils are obtained as byproducts of the citrus industry.
Before the discovery of distillation, every essential oils were extracted by pressing.
Most flowers contain too little volatile oil to undergo expression, but their chemical components are too delicate and easily denatured by the high heat used in steam distillation.
Instead, a solvent such as hexane or supercritical carbon dioxide is used to extract the oils. Extracts from hexane and other hydrophobic solvents are called concretes, which are a mixture of essential oil, waxes, resins, and other lipophilic (oil-soluble) plant material.
Although highly fragrant, concretes contain large quantities of non-fragrant waxes and resins. Often, another solvent, such as ethyl alcohol, is used to extract the fragrant oil from the concrete. The alcohol solution is chilled to −18 °C (0 °F) for more than 48 hours which causes the waxes and lipids to precipitate out.
The precipitates are then filtered out and the ethanol is removed from the remaining solution by evaporation, vacuum purge, or both, leaving behind the absolute.
Supercritical carbon dioxide is used as a solvent in supercritical fluid extraction. This method can avoid petrochemical residues in the product and the loss of some «top notes» when steam distillation is used. It does not yield an absolute directly. The supercritical carbon dioxide will extract both the waxes and the essential oils that make up the concrete. Subsequent processing with liquid carbon dioxide, achieved in the same extractor by merely lowering the extraction temperature, will separate the waxes from the essential oils.
This lower temperature process prevents the decomposition and denaturing of compounds. When the extraction is finish, the pressure is reduced to ambient and the carbon dioxide reverts to a gas, leaving no residue.
Florasol is another solvent used to obtain essential oils. It was originally developed as a refrigerant to replace Freon. Although Florasol is an «ozone-friendly» product, it has a high global warming potential (GWP; 100-yr GWP = 1430). The European Union has banned its use, with a phase-out process that began in 2011, to be completed in 2017. One advantage of Florasol is that the extraction of essential oils occurs at or under room temperature so degradation through high temperature extremes does not happen.
The essential oils are mostly pure and contain little to no foreign substances.
Estimates of entire production of essential oils are hard to obtain. One estimate, compiled from data in 1989, 1990, and 1994 from various sources, gives the following entire production, in tonnes, of essential oils for which more than 1,000 tonnes were produced.
Oil Tonnes Sweet orange 12,000 Mentha arvensis 4,800 Peppermint 3,200 Cedarwood 2,600 Lemon 2,300 Eucalyptus globulus 2,070 Litsea cubeba 2,000 Clove (leaf) 2,000 Spearmint 1,300