Essential oils are the essence of a plant, and they give plants their unique aroma. There are more than 3000 known essential oils, and they are a very concentrated source of compounds which provide many health benefits. They are extracted from plants by a process of steam distillation or cold pressing.
Essential oils have been used throughout history by many different cultures in a variety of applications. The Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese used oils in perfumes, personal care products, and as medicines. And it seems that they were onto something. In the early 1900’s, a chemist discovered by accident that lavender oil could heal a burn, and essential oils became the treatment of choice for wounded soldiers during the World War. Scientists then developed ways of extracting the active compounds from plants and their oils to form the basis of some of the drugs we know and still use today. Essential oils are increasingly being studied for their healing properties, and there’s some exciting research that suggests that these humble natural wonders do far more than just smell nice.