Saturday, November 07, 2009


A diffuser disperses a fine mist of essential oils into a room without burning, which can degrade the oil. Diffusing certain oils may help to reduce bacteria, fungus, mold and unpleasant orders. In addition, this method can help you relax, relieve tension, improve concentration, and increase mental clarity.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Flu Support

Hi Edward,

It as been awhile since I checked in on your blog and I happened to stop by when you introduced your essential oil blog.   I have a question. I am really trying to stay well this season. I have some early signs of a flu or cold and I want to help my immune system out every way I can. I've been researching things I can do and one place suggested essential oils. What do you suggest?
Thanks!  Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for the email with the question. Staying well this season is an adventure. Besides all the support a person can get from essential oils, a nurse practitioner friend of mine reminded me of the benefits of gargling three times a day with salt water. She reminded me that not much can survive a salty environment and I have been faithfully following her advice along with some of the strategies I’ll mention here.

I diffuse orange oil in my home and office. It is pleasant and light enough that it doesn’t disturb other people in the environment who may be sensitive to fragrances. Keep in mind, if you diffuse it in your home and you have cats, be sure to let the animals have easy exit from the room where you are diffusing because cat biology and human biology apparently are equal when it comes to processing essential oils.

If you don’t want to incur the expense of a commercial diffuser, here is a very simple, inexpensive alternative. If you have a fan that can be set on a low speed, like an office desk fan for example, you can place a few drops of orange on a Kleenex tissue and tape it onto the fan so that the air generated carries the essential oil into the room. That is exactly what I do in the office so that I don’t have to schlep my diffusers around.

If you already have a bug, please check out my Nasal Straw video at the top of the blog on the right hand side.

To support your wellness, especially if others in the family are already sneezing, you can begin using essential oils in the shower. Bay Laurel, one drop applied directly to the neck (near lymph glands), and then get into the shower immediately (don’t leave the undiluted oil on your skin for too long) will evaporate in the shower and create a pleasant sensation (and is thought to be antiviral too).

Other oils that can be used in the shower should be oils that are safe to use undiluted (only one drop directly to the skin for very short period of time-the time it takes you to get into the shower). MQV for example is a great support during this season, and each person has to test their sensitivity to the oil by doing a skin test with one drop, say on the wrist and washing it off.

If you do decide to use the one-drop-in-the-shower method. Keep in mind that you should interrupt the regime after one week with a period of no oil in the shower and then take it up, preferably with a different oil.

Please feel free to write with more questions.

Terra Cotta Pendants and Essential Oil Jewelry

Sanna wrote:
I have been wearing the terra cotta pendant diffuser and I am in heaven. I get a whiff of scent all day and have been using that Brazilian Sweet Orange with cloves and eucalyptus. The scent seems to last and last. I would love to see you offer these pendants. I think it would be a great incentive for folks to "wear" their favorites. Thanks for the recent info. Have you experimented with blending any oils together?

November 05, 2009
Edward Viljoen said...
Hi Sanna, the Terra Cotta Pendant diffusers are great and we're looking into getting them for

Other options are silver lockets that contain a pad on which you can place a single drop of oil. I'll let you know when we get new Essential Oil Jewelry. We have not carried them up until now.

Regarding blending, yes most certainly. I have dozens of blends that I have experimented with and learned about from other Aromatherapists. I am happy to share recipes. If you have a particular use in mind, I will offer the blend that I use.


What is a Base Oil?

Essential Oils alone are concentrated. Base oils are used to extend and dilute the essences and act as a vehicle to use them. Bases can slow down the evaporation of the Essential Oil allowing us to have extended exposure to their fragrance and qualities. In addition to carrier (or base) oils, Essential Oils may be carried in honey, clay, sugar and water. Common carrier oils are Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Olive Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil.

A general rule is to dilute by adding 10 to 30 drops in one ounce of base oil.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Cold Pressing

The process of scoring or zesting the skin of fruit is used to produce oils from citrus fruit. Citrus oils can also be produced by steam distillation, but cold pressed oils are bolder, more vibrant and fragrant.

Carbon Dioxide Extraction

High pressured CO2 turns to liquid and can be used as solvent to extract molecules in a similar method to absolutes, but without leaving any residue because at normal pressure and temperature the CO2 reverts to gas.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Absolutes and Concretes: Solvent Extraction

Very delicate plants and flowers such as Jasmine blossoms cannot survive the process of distillation and to extract the essences a process of solvent extraction is frequently used. In this process trays of blossoms are washed with a solvent (hexane) which dissolves all the extractable parts, aromatic molecules, waxes and pigments.

The resulting solution is then filtered to recover the solvent for reuse. The remaining waxy material is called a concrete.
The concentrated concretes can be processed further to remove the waxy materials by warming it and stirring it with ethanol which breaks the wax into tiny globules allowing the smaller molecules of the essence to separate.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Water and Steam Distillation

The most common method of extraction is through the use of water and/or steam. There are different ways to go about extracting oil, and in most of them water is heated to produce steam which carries the most volatile parts of the material with it. The steam is cooled in a variety of ways producing condensation which is collected. Typically the Essential Oil will float to the top and the remaining water is called a Hydrosol.

True Steam distillation uses an outside source of steam which pipes the steam into the distillation unit, sometimes at high pressure. The steam passes through the aromatic material, and exits into the condenser. Another method is to submerge the materials in water completely as in making a soup and is possibly the best method for very dense and rough materials like woods, nuts and roots. Additionally steam and water distillation can be achieved by steaming material over boiling water in something similar to a wok or basket, a method suitable for softer materials like leaves.

Monday, November 02, 2009

What is an Essential Oil?

Essential Oil is the term used to describe the product of various methods of distillation and extraction. Often called aromatic essences, they are known as oils because of their ability to bind with fats and other oils and not with water. Flowers, leaves, fruits, stems, bark, seeds and roots may be used to create a concentrated, volatile liquid called an Essential Oil.

Essential Oils are the like the blood of plants, providing the defense mechanisms for the plants, or the immune system to plants. They consist of enzymes, hormones, and vitamins and act as regenerating, oxygenating, and supportive systems in the plant world against infection and disease.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the art and practice of using extracted plant oils, including essential oils, for health and well-being.

Essential oils are the pure extract of a plant or essence and are distilled in different ways. The term Essential Oil is sometimes used in to include CO2 extracted oil, distilled oil and absolutes.

Aromatherapy includes the use of other complementary natural ingredients including cold pressed vegetable oils, liquid waxes, hydrosols, herbs, salts, sugars, clays and mud.

People respond to the sense of smell on an emotional level more powerfully than other senses. Aroma can trigger a whole series of memories previously forgotten. The area of the brain associated with smell is the same area as that associated with memory. The olfactory nerves are located within the nasal cavity and respond to particular aromas taking the information of the fragrance directly to the brain where the memory and associate emotions are evoked. This area connects with another part of the brain (hypothalamus and pituitary gland) which governs our hormonal systems. Aromas are thought to trigger a variety of chemical actions within the body, including the release of specific chemicals. Because the olfactory nerves are a direct extension of the brain's limbic system, reaction to smell is relayed immediately. Smell tells us how our food tastes and we use it to identify each other and attracting each other.

Products that include synthetic ingredients are generally not used in aromatherapy. Perfume oils, also known as fragrance oils, are not the same as essential oils, although they may include essential oils in the ingredients. Fragrance oils and perfume oils sometimes contain synthetically made oil and/or chemicals and are not considered to have the same therapeutic benefits of essential oils.

The use of the word “aromatherapy" on products is not regulated in the United States so any product can use the word whether or not the product contains natural or synthetic materials. Some products on the market contain synthetic ingredients claim to be aromatherapeutic, or claim to be “made with essential oils.”

The term aromatherapy is relatively new (20th Century) but the practice of using essential oils dates back almost one thousand years.

Aromatic plants have been used for well-being among Chinese Health Practitioners in traditional medicine and the Egyptians developed a simple distillation process that produced crude cedarwood oil which was used (along with clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and myrrh produced by infusion) for embalming.

During the 14th century, the Black Death hit and killed millions of people. Herbal preparations were used extensively and some believe that perfumers may have survived or avoided the plague because of their constant exposure to natural aromatics.

In the 15th century, more and more plants were distilled for their essential oils and a growing number of books on their properties begin to appear. By the 20th century knowledge of the separate constituents of oils leads to the creation of synthetic oils. French chemist by the name of René-Maurice Gattefossé focuses on the use of essential oils for their medicinal use and is credited with coining the term aromatherapy in 1928.