Essential Oils: Benefits, What Kind, and How to Use Them

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1. INTRODUCTION

Essential oils are concentrated, aromatic plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for emotional, cosmetic, medical and even spiritual purposes. The term “essential oil” actually comes from the idea of “quintessential oil.”

Aristotle believed that in addition to the four physical elements (fire, air, earth and water) there was a fifth element, quintessence. This was considered to be the “spirit” or life force of the plant.1

Today, essential oils are extracted from plants via two primary methods, distillation, which has been used since ancient times, and expression or cold pressing, which is used to extract citrus essential oils.

Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, physicians including Hippocrates, Galen, and Crito, promoted the therapeutic use of scents, . Even the plague was treated with fragrances!2

Pharmaceuticals edged out the use of essential oils in the 19th century, but now, however, they’re making a strong comeback.

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