Noreen Ziegler, DVM, CNC
Essential oils are not the same as the edible fatty oils made from nuts and
vegetables that we use in cooking and for massage. In a chemical sense,
essential oils are not really oils at all. Rather, they are the volatile and
fragrant part of the plant, which is found in delicate little sacs on the surface
of the leaves or in the bark, flowers, fruit peels or seeds. In addition to giving
each plant its characteristic fragrance, essential oils have antibiotic qualities
that protect the plant or provide other functions. Some oils protect the plant
by repelling insects. Others stimulate blooming. They are complex mixtures of
chemical constituents. Rose Otto essential oil, for example, contains over 300
different chemical compounds.

If the plant is collected carefully and the volatile oil is gently extracted, the
resulting substance is one of the most precious gifts the earth has to offer. It
is the concentrated intelligence of the healing force in the plant, 75 to 100
times more powerful than dried herbs. And because there are molecular
structures in the human body that correspond to that of the oils, the plants'
intelligence can be used for our healing. For example, when we smell true
rose essential oil, our consciousness interacts with the consciousness of the
plant; we vibrate with the healing essence and live the wholeness of the rose.

Essential oils can prevent or fight infection, kill bacteria or inhibit its growth,
and increase the skin's ability to rejuvenate itself. They can be antiseptic,
anti-viral and anti-inflammatory; they can be stimulating, relaxing, euphoric or

Essential oils can be used in massage, inhalation, baths, lotions and facials.
They can also be used to make or enhance household cleaners, cosmetics,
perfumes and shampoos. They can reduce stress, promote energy and
alertness, enhance spiritual well-being, reduce inflammation, provide pain
relief and treat a wide variety of other medical problems. They prove helpful in
the treatment of viral infections, burns, headaches, asthma, arthritis and

Excerpt from "Aromatherapy for Every Day" by Christoph Streicher and Karla Christensen.
Essential oils are safe to use, pleasurable and very beneficial as long as a
few common-sense precautions are followed:

Avoid contact with eyes or mucus membranes.
Essential oils can sting when they get in the eyes or on mucus membranes.
Rinse the affected area with a plain vegetable oil.

Internal Use
The International Federation of Aromatherapists strongly discourages the
internal use of essential oils. These are highly concentrated substances that
can damage the delicate lining of the digestive tract. In addition, some
essential oils are toxic when taken internally. Essential oils should only be
ingested under the direct supervision of a professional aromatherapist.

People who have epilepsy or high blood pressure, pregnant women, infants
and children all have special considerations in the use of essential oils.
Please check the safety consideration for each oil before using it.

Essential oils are very concentrated. They should always be diluted for use on
the skin. With the exception of Tea Tree and Lavender, they should be used
undiluted on the skin only under the supervision of a professional

Sensitive Skin
Some oils can be skin irritants. To check for sensitivity to a particular oil, put a
few undiluted drops on the inside of the wrist. Cover with a bandage and
check the skin in two hours.

Some oils, particularly citrus oils, accelerate skin pigmentation when used on
the skin before exposure to sunlight. When using Bergamot, Orange , Lemon
and Angelica on the skin, wait at least six hours before exposing the area to

Essential oils are volatile. They can be damaged by exposure to heat, oxygen
and sunlight. A good-quality oil comes in a dark bottle, either brown or cobalt
blue. After use, the cap should be securely fastened, and it should be stored
in a cool, dry place, out of reach of children. Many essential oils come with a
plastic dropper insert in the bottle. This allows only one drop at a time to come
from the bottle, making blending more accurate, preventing spills, and
inhibiting ingestion by a child.

When properly cared for, most essential oils have a shelf life of two to five
years. Citrus oils oxidize easily so they have a much shorter shelf life--about
six months. The test of freshness in an essential oil is its smell.

Excerpt from "Aromatherapy for Every Day" by Christoph Streicher and Karla Christensen.