What Exactly Is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for their health, cosmetic, and emotionally uplifting properties. Many people are familiar with using herbs to enhance wellness. When plants are dried for tea or to make supplements, 95-97% of their essential oil is lost. For example, one drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea! By using essential oils, we are getting the complete chemical profile in every drop! Itʼs called the ʻlifebloodʼ of the plant and its immune system. What does that mean? When you take all of the oil out of the plant, all that's left is fibrous material. The plant cannot live. Just like if you took all the blood out of a human, we could not survive. So essential oil is like the blood of a plant.
Essential oils are distilled from plants by putting plant material into a large stainless steel cylinder, running steam up from the bottom. The steam picks up the oil sacs from the plants and is taken out through the top of the distiller. The steam is cooled back into water and the oil floats to the top or bottom, depending on the viscosity, and can be removed. These distilleries can be as large as about 20 feet tall and eight feet across. If you can imagine filling a cylinder 20 feet high and 8 feet across with German chamomile, which is a delicate, fragile plant, how much oil do you think you would get from distilling this much plant material? You get somewhere between 1/4 of a cup and 1/2 of a cup essential oil! This is why some oils are very expensive. Other oils that provide more oil in each distillation are less expensive. But, since a 5ml bottle contains about 100 drops and a 15ml bottle contains about 300 drops, it can be very economical!
When I first started learning about essential oils, I, of course, just went and got a couple at my local health food store to use in our homemade laundry detergent. Later, my friend started talking to me about her essential oils and my big question was: "Why Young Living? What's the difference? These seem to be a lot more expensive." So, after doing a lot of research, this was my conclusion. Purity is really important. I had already come far enough in my health journey to realize that what you put on your skin goes into your blood stream very quickly. Some of the oils at the store were saying things like "do not ingest". Why? It's peppermint oil, I should be able to ingest something as simple as peppermint. The answer I found was that essential oils are not regulated by the FDA. There are no standards in the US for essential oils. What most people are after is the scent. Those are what we call "perfume grade" essential oils. They're more concerned with the smell than any therapeutic value. When this is the focus, oils are either synthetic or extracted at a high heat, with chemicals (which end up in the product), because it makes it fast, cheap, and easy. The therapeutic compounds are sensitive though, so in order to maintain the integrity of the compounds, it has to be gently distilled at low temperatures.
If you ever get a chance to hear Gary Young, the founder of Young Living, speak in person, I highly recommend that you attend. From the seed in their hand, to the seal on the bottle, every step is just astounding. I'm not going to bore you with all the details here, but it took 6 years to get the soil on their farms just right. They own their own worm compost! He knows the temperament of the plants. He told us a story about how some of the workers were fighting among the melissa plants. He told them that they could not behave this way around his plants and that they needed to come back when they were done fighting. He said they thought he was crazy, so he cut one of the plants right by where they were fighting and said "follow me to the distillery". They didn't get one drop of oil from that plant. Then he got some ladies together and told them to just be gracious and love on one another around the plants. After a few minutes he took one of the plants to the distillery and got 5ml of oil from it! There are international standards for some oils through AFNOR and ISO, but in the absence of these standards, Young Living has created its own standards. What does that mean? It means that Young Living makes sure all it's oils therapeutic constituents are consistent from batch to batch. YL tests EVERY batch of oil, and only 28% are accepted and bottled! The rejected oil goes back into weed (which are hand picked) and pest control. Isn't that awesome? Talk about organic! Every bottle contains 100% of the oil on the label. If it's a blend, it has every ingredient listed, including any carrier oils (usually coconut or almond oil). They have huge libraries full of books on compounds and 3 PhD's on staff to analyze research with over 100 years of combined experience. The foremost authority on essential oils in the world, Dr. Casabianca, has been working with Gary for 23 years! They are so open and inviting to all their customers as well. You can visit the farms and tour the distillery any time you want. Everyone is invited to help with the harvest. Gary is also an amazing Christian man. Now, only God knows what their relationship is really like, and Gary is not perfect, but it's nice to hear someone give all the credit to the Lord. He talks about Him all the time, how he prayed, how God gave him this and that. It just gives me personal peace of mind. It's not the only brand of essential oils that is safe, but I'm not a scientist, I can't test each bottle of oil I come into contact with (and I wouldn't want to). I have read again and again from scientist to veterinarian to doctor that they choose to use Young Living because of it's consistency in producing a superior product. Doctors and people that I trust and that have helped thousands of people have recommended Young Living when asked "What do you think about essential oils?" After all that, I decided that Young Living was good enough for me and my family! What do you think? Is it good enough for your family too? If you think so, then head over to my quick guide on how to get oils in your home! Need some more information? Check out my favorite resources and the Young Living website.