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Introduction of Essential Oils

Introduction of Essential Oils Essential oils are highly volatile and concentrated substances that are extracted from a vast variety of aromatic plants and trees. These oils can be found, for example, in bergamot, sandalwood, chamomile, lavender, frankincense, etc. Even though they are technically classified as ?oils?, they are quite different from the ordinary oils around us, such as corn and olive oils. In fact, essential oils are not actually oil at all. They are more of a waterlike liquid at room temperature. However, for simplicity, the term ?essential oils? is often used generally to mean all botanical or herbal extract.
Since essential oils are extracted from a wide variety of aromatic plants, each essential oil has its own chemical composition. For example, while terpene and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons are the main components in frankincense oil, linalool and linalyl acetate are dominant in high quality of lavender oil. The composition of essential oils does not just vary in different oils, but also varies in oils from different parts of the same plant. Therefore, essential oils are very complex substances that it is almost impossible to isolate their numerous trace elements and compounds. Due to this complexity in composition and rich in chemical compounds, some essential oils can provide healing properties while others are toxic to our bodies. The process that used essential oils as an instrument of healing are often called ?Aromatherapy?. The use of essential oils in this ancient healing practice of humankind can be traced back to thousands of years in all major ancient civilization around the world. However, the ancient Egyptians are generally regarded as the true founders of aromatherapy.

The Discovery of Aromatics Plants

In the ancient civilizations, the plants were medicine. The aromatic plants, from which essential oils are extracted nowadays, dominated an important role in medical healing. Our ancestors learned through this by observing what sick animals chose to eat and some of the leaves, berries and roots that they gathered for food eventually could make sick people feel better, or that juices helped wounds to heal. This highly prized healing wisdom would have been very precious to people who depended entirely on the resources in their immediate environment and, once discovered, would be handed down within the tribe from one generation to another. Such knowledge was eventually transmuted into today?s herbal medicine. Early civilizations also discovered interesting effects to our mind by burning certain parts of aromatic plants. If such smoke or aroma that gave off from fire produced effects such as happy, drowsy, or excited, or maybe even given rise to ?mystical? experience, then such plants would be regarded as ?magic?. Certain aromas were credited with the power to drive out demons which sometimes possess the minds and bodies of unfortunate people. Aromatics were also burned on the sacred altar to appease the wrath of the gods and to facilitate the channeling of divine knowledge. Echoes of such practice can still be heard, for example, the word ?perfume? is derived from the Latin per fumen, meaning ?through the smoke?.

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