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by Dr. Carrie RittlingDr. Carrie Rittling

What puts the “Essential” in “Essential Oils”?

I have patients ask all the time what makes essential oils different from an oil. The term “essential oil” refers to the distinctive scent that the oil gives off. There are hundreds of different essential oils and they all have very specific affects in, and on the body. You can use combinations of the essential oils to achieve very specific results.

Essential oils are made by either distillation, carbon dioxide extraction, solvent extraction or cold press. These processes will capture and concentrate the essential oil.

Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. They can be diffused into the air, made into a compress, added to bath water, or applied directly to the skin. I frequently recommend my patients to add a few drops of essential oils to the humidifier and/or bath water for nasal congestion and coughs. You can use a combination of essential oils to apply to cuts and scrapes to prevent infections.

Not all essential oils are created equal. Some less expensive oils can be synthetic, adulterated or reconstructed. You want to look for a company that is using pure, genuine and authentic essential oils. These terms mean the following: the oil does not contain synthetic fragrances, the oil does not contain less expensive or similar oil substitutes, the oil has not been reconstructed or altered in a laboratory. I prefer using certified organic and ethically wild-crafted essential oils as this ensures that these plants will not become endangered species and the land used to grow the plants will not be polluted with pesticides and herbicides.