Most herbs can be combined into complex formulas that create powerful synergies.
A symphony of ingredients- all performing harmoniously - is a foundational concept for our recipes.
Listed below is an explanation of a few key categories.
What are essential oils?
The term “essential oil” is the short version of the original “quintessential oil.”, meaning they contain the “life-force” of a plant. Both its complex mixtures of chemicals and the immeasurable natural intelligence.
Before they serve us, they serve the plant. They are their “life-blood”, helping the plant to maintain its homeopathic state - to survive and adapt to an ever-changing environment.
The delightful, rejuvenating aromas that are released when you touch Basil, Lavender, Marjoram, Peppermint, or Rosemary plants or break the leaf of Lemon, Dill, Fennel, Cedar or Citronella – is the plant’s essential oil.
All the hundreds of thousands of known plants and herbs contain vital fluids. However, it is estimated that only less than 5% contain enough essential oil to be extracted.
They are relatively rare in nature and highly prized. And finely tuned to help us.
Their therapeutic power has been known and used since the most ancient times, with several important references in the Old and New Testaments. They were an important part of Hippocrates prescriptions in about 400 BC.
What are their properties?
Essential oils have some fascinating and unique properties.
They are composed of tiny molecules which are able to easily pass though all tissues of a plant, even into their cells.
Similarly, these molecules can travel quickly though our bodies.
Their lightness makes them highly aromatic, filling the air with tiny, fragrant molecules. When we breathe them, they can go straight to the central part of the brain – triggering emotional as well as physical well-being.
They are extremely concentrated. One drop contains approximately 40 million-trillion molecules. That is 4 with 19 zeros! We have approximately 100 trillion cells in our bodies so each drop could cover every cell in our bodies with 400,000 molecules!
Essential oils are extremely complex, each one being composed of hundreds of chemical compounds. This helps explain their versatility and irreplaceability.
They are the most powerful anti-oxidant substances on earth (based on the ORAC scale).
Incredibly, they have measurable electro-magnetic frequencies which are the highest of all known substances. It is believed that one of their most important beneficial modalities is their ability to lift the electro-magnetic frequencies of our bodies.
We can begin to see why they are so powerful!
How do they work?
As a living substance, the innate “intelligence” of these oils cannot be underestimated.
However, their chemical composition can be more easily analysed and understood.
The chemistry of essential oils consists of simple hydrocarbons, oxygenated hydrocarbons and their isomers. More specifically Phenols, Monoterpenes an Sesquiterpenes.
We are particularly interested in a hypothesis for their functionality that these compounds cleanse, deprogram bad genetic information and restore correct genetic information within cells.
Effectively, they seem to restore our own “homeostatic” state on cellular level as they do in their host plant.
Aromatherapy focuses specifically on how essential oils support health and well-being.
Interestingly, the term was coined by a French perfumer and chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in his 1937 book. He wanted to distinguish the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes from their use in perfumes.
There are many books and valuable online resources that explain this in more detail. However, as it relates to our products, we would like to make the following points.
As a clinical herbalist, I am interested in all parts of the plant. Their essential oils are only one ingredient in our symphony.
There are three “schools” that have evolved the practice of Aromatherapy. The German, French and British. While they have much in common, they also differ in some important philosophical and practical points – particularly the primary mode of administration.
German favours inhalation, the French oral ingestion and the British through massage.
Exact dosages are also an important area of variance.
Essential oils are very powerful and require appropriate dosage and application which will differ from person to person.
We advocate that our customers use extreme caution in the area of aromatherapy and use of essential oils and should always consult with a trained practitioner.
It should be noted that there are many grades of essential oils. We only use the finest quality from the best suppliers. Please see our discussion in our About Quality page.
Also known as hydrolats, hydrosols are a byproduct of steam distillation – the method used to extract essential oils from their host plants since ancient times.
In this process, a combination of water and steam is used to slowly break through the plant material to remove its volatile constituents.
Once cooled and the essential oils have been separated, the residual water is collected. It contains the water-soluble constituents of the plant and trace amounts of the essential oil and therefore has its own therapeutic potential.
Common hydrosols include Rose, Lavender and Neroli.
The aromatic essences of some plants are too delicate to survive the heat and hydration of distillation.
Their oils can only be extracted using chemical solvents. These include jasmine, neroli and vanilla.
Quality extraction minimizes the trace elements from the process and ensures the fragrance and therapeutic elements remain optimal.
Carrier / vegetable / seed oils
These oils are derived from the seeds of plants. They are the food on which a plant will feed until it develops the leaves, roots etc. required to sustain itself.
They remain in the seed and do not circulate in the plant. They have much larger molecules than essential oils.
They have their own nutrients, colours and scents and therapeutic properties. They are used as the base of most skincare products.
They are called “carrier” oils because they “carry” essential oils with which they easily blend and would otherwise be too strong in undulated form.
Popular oils include olive, jojoba, sesame and sunflower. Other specialty seed oils would include sea buckthorn, raspberry seed and tamamu.
Infused / herbal oils
A herbal oil is a maceration (soaking) of medicinal plant material in a vegetable oil that, over a period of time, absorbs the fat-soluble substances of the plant.
Highly oil soluble components of medicinal plants include: gums, resins, and oleoresins. Other components that are partially soluble in oil include: alkaloids, essential oils, mucilage, and other active principles.
Popular infused oils include St. John’s Wort and Calendula.
These are used in skincare products primarily for binding, thickening, emulsifying and texture enhancement. There are three main types:
- Beeswax: made by worker bees to build honeycomb cells. A very complex material made of over 300 substances.
- Candelilla wax: derived from the small shrub native to northern Mexico and southwestern USA.
- Carnauba wax: obtained from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree.
All our beeswax is wild crafted from hives located on our land in the pristine Catskills countryside. The latter waxes are generally used in vegan formulations.
Read more about products here: About Products