Lesson 3: Understanding Essential Oil Profiles
Essential Oil profiles are packed with information, fun and useful information. They were designed to help make choosing and using an essential oil easy. Each profile includes the following information sections:
- The oil’s Common name with a description of some of its primary beneficial aspects;
- Safety Notes in a small square box;
- Tried and True Uses;
- A “How Do I Use It?” table with helpful methods of application and list of complementary oils that blend well with the oil profiled;
- A bullet list of the oil’s Properties, the properties come from the individual constituents and are the results of studies done not of the essential oil, but on the constituents, whether found in an oil, herb, food or drug. Whether found naturally occurring or synthetically created
- A table of Technical Data about the essential oil.
These specific topics and their purpose are discussed in more detail below. Each essential oil profile also includes one or two brief success stories volunteered by someone who has used the oil.
Be sure to smell each essential oil as you read its profile.
If you don’t have the oil yet, read about it now. Later, when you have it, read the profile again while smelling the oil. Please pay particular attention to the Safety Notes of each oil, as well as the Disclaimer and Safety Warnings at the bottom of each page.
The Essential Oil Blend profiles are formatted a little differently with fewer sections, but equally helpful and important information. Each blend profile includes;
- the Blend Name with a description of beneficial aspects;
- Safety Notes;
- Ingredients—a list of all single oils included in the blend;
- an Applications table telling ways how the blend might be used along with the specific methods for application; and
- Ingredient Descriptions provide the detailed benefits and aspects of each single oil in the blend. Again in leaf-shaped boxes, personal stories are included, sharing good results people have had from using the blend.
Important Note: If we included every single bit of information pertinent to every oil blend, you’d never be able to carry the book! We decided to give you the “general” information about the single oils contained in each blend so that you could consider the many possibilities of the blend. If you read the section on Blending—as I know you did—you already realize that each blend was created for a particular goal or purpose. Take Trauma™ oil, for example. The name says it all, but if you look at the individual oils it contains and what each can do, you will likely have many aha moments. Go through the oil blend pages. It is good reading. You will not only learn about the blends, but also about single oils—maybe some you haven’t tried yet. Again, remember to smell each oil or oil blend as you read about it.
Now, let’s look at each of the topics in the oils profiles. Basil, Sweet* of our lives, including aromatherapy. We want you to have fun and positive experiences using essential oils. Keep these safety notes in mind when deciding to use any oil. Safety can be controversial at times, with people saying, “Well I used that oil for this or that, and I’m perfectly fine.” People also say that to me when we discuss eating fast foods, but they won’t change my mind about not eating those. Personally, I don’t want you to be afraid of oils. When used properly, they are very safe—much safer than eating fast foods. These are my words to the wise.
Disclaimer and Safety Warning
This is our “enter at your own risk” notification. It’s the Disclaimer and Safety Warning “small print” found at the bottom of every single page of essential oil singles and blends— and it’s the small print you need to read! Read them!
Single Essential Oil Common Name and Description
At the beginning of each single oil profile, each oil is identified by its common name as printed on the bottle. Following the oil name we have included a brief description of the oil and some of its properties, historical uses, or ways we have experienced using it.
Tried and True Uses
The Tried and True Uses section is a summarized list of the primary benefits Brenda and I (and others) have seen, studied, or personally experienced with the oil. We cannot say the effects will be the same for everyone, but this section is included to show an oil’s good track record as used by others. Sometimes we mention research information, historical facts, or folklore about that particular oil.
How Do I Use It?
I can just hear you asking, “I’ve read all of this and the Blending section four times, and I’ve decided to use this particular oil. But HOW and WHAT are the different ways I can use it?” The Applications table is where the rubber hits the road—a “treasure box” of ideas. This is where we share our experiences of exactly HOW we use an oil—with detailed instructions! Simply choose the method you would enjoy the most. Do you love to soak in the tub? Try our bath ideas. Want something quick and easy? Combine 1 drop with a few drops of carrier oil on the bottom of your feet as you start your day. Want to be a little sneaky with an ‘anti-oiler’ (someone who objects to the smell of essential oils)? Run your diffuser with a refreshing aroma. They’ll benefit from the properties of your oil, and never know—unless you give away the secret. It CAN be easy to get into an oil rut, so try different oils, ideas and applications. Be creative!
Next to the Applications section, you’ll see a “Blends Well With” box. This is the perfect starting place for considering oils for your own blends. This list of oils is not all-inclusive. Feel free to try blending with other oils. Again, be creative!
The Properties section contains valuable information about what an oil can do. Most likely there will be properties or effects on the list you’ve never thought of. Plants and their oils are really quite amazing. Properties of oils can include some pretty weird scientific words, such as carminative. What the heck does that mean? It always annoyed me that most oil books listed properties of an oil but expected me to know the definitions or look them up in the back of the book or in a dictionary! I was not about to make you flip back and forth (maybe with a colicky baby in your arms) trying to figure out what carminative means (relieves intestinal gas pain and distention, and promotes peristalsis). We believe you need to see the definition right away, without spending precious time conducting research. For this reason, we included brief definitions right next to each property. We’ve also included the definitions in the Glossary for reference. Understanding each single oil’s properties will help you in making your blends and concoctions. Yes, pretty please, read the Blending section again.
Success stories, highlighted in the boxes shaped like a leaf, give a few specific ways an essential oil has worked for us or others. Read through these several times. Some of these stories contain more insight than anything we could teach you.
Key Emotions represent emotions or character traits that this particular oil can evoke, strengthen or bring out in a person using it. Remember the olfaction section, and how smelling an oil can bring on an emotional response? It wouldn’t hurt to read that section again.
Key Body Systems
Key Body Systems are the key or main, body systems that are possibly effected by the properties of this essential oil.
Technical Data may sound pretty dry and unimportant. But, actually this is where a lot of the fun beginsDollarphotoclub_82901653. I hope you’ve already read the first part of this book. If not, as you read this section, jump back to each corresponding section or read it again. This is where it all comes together. You may have been thinking, “Why the heck is Leiann telling us all this? I just want to know what to do with the oils I got in the mail this month!” Well, hang in there with me, and you’ll be glad you did.
Remember the Olfaction section? Go back and review that now. You’ll get more out of this whole process if you do.
Then, while you read through each oil profile, get out your oils and smell each one while you learn about it. This will lock the information in your brain so every time you smell an oil, all that information you read will come floating back to you. That’s why, in our classes, we have students smell each oil on a Q-tip while we teach about a particular oil. We want you to remember it.
For reference, here is the Technical Data chart for Sweet Basil. See the eight parts in the Technical Data in bold below? Each of these provides you with valuable information you will need and want to know.
Note: Please consult the Foundational Aromatherapy book. This would not transfer in true form. It is easier to understand in grid form as in the book.
BOTANICAL NAME Ocimum basilicum ct.methyl chavicol
WHERE GROWN Madagascar, Mediterranean, Europe, India
AROMA spicy, sweet
PRODUCING ORGAN flowering tops and leaves
EXTRACTION METHOD steam distillation
NOTE (EVAPORATION RATE) top-middle
SESQUITERPENES anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, antibacterial,
Main Chemical Families
LAMIACEAE (LABIATAE) relieves headaches and nasal congestion, energizes, antiseptic, antispasmodic
ETHERS antispasmodic, anti-infectious, carminative, pain relieving in the digestive system and genitourinary tract body and mind
Let’s go through each part and see where the journey leads us.
BOTANICAL (OR LATIN) NAME
Do you remember reading earlier about Latin names in the Botany section? This name is so you know exactly what oil you are getting. For example, we have three different types of eucalyptus. Which one do you want? To remember how to distinguish, review the Botany section. A reputable company will provide you with this information and not try to sell you just any old eucalyptus.
Plants for essential oils can be grown in different locations, at least most of them. It is fun to look them up and learn about the countries, their climate and altitude; all of this helps us to appreciate our oils more.
It’s good to smell our oils as we are learning about them. Get to know the “language” of aroma. Using the words that describe the aromas of the oils helps anchor it in our minds and give us clues about the properties of oils. If the aroma is listed as fruity, but smells like VapoRub®, something is wrong. Here’s a helpful tip when smelling oils—it’s a good idea to group them by aroma. Before and after smelling each one, smell coffee beans to “clear” your nose. Something fun to do is blindfold yourself and try to recognize an oil from its aroma. Learn the words describing its aroma to expand your vocabulary.
PRODUCING ORGAN (PLANT PART)
The producing organ tells you what part of the plant an essential oil comes from. Get to know the plants and their parts. Cut open an orange, lemon, or grapefruit. Squeeze the peel and watch the oil ooze out—taste it! Buy some fresh herbs at the grocery store; rub them in your hands, smell them, and taste them! Buy a piece of ginger; grate some of it up, taste it, and smell the pungent aroma! Compare these smells with the oils that come from them. Take a walk in a forest or park and feel the bark of the trees. Take time to “smell the roses”—literally— or geraniums—or orange blossoms! Plant an herb garden or put some pots in your kitchen. Grow a miniature citrus tree in the sunniest room in your home, and make fresh lemonade.
Extraction method tells you how we get this oil out of the plant. Was it distilled or cold-pressed? How an oil is produced greatly affects the quality of the oil, and we want the very best, genuine and authentic. Review the Production and Quality sections
A note of an essential oil describes its rate of evaporation. Top notes evaporate the quickest; base notes the slowest. This means you will smell the high-note oils faster than you smell the base-note oils. This form of classifying oils originates with the perfume industry. It’s helpful information when making your own synergies or blends. Check out the Blending section in this book.
Essential oils are made up of hundreds of different chemicals. Like people, it’s just easier to say “the King family” than name all eleven of us one by one. In families, each member is unique and different; yet have many attributes in common with others in their family. Chemical families are much the same. This information is helpful whether you’re choosing a single oil or exploring ideas for blending oils together. Like humans, oils can actually belong to more than one family. For example, I’m a Bacon on my dad’s side of the family; a Logsdon on my mom’s; and a King through marriage. Review the Chemical Family section again. And—if you didn’t read the Blending section, do it now!
There are millions and millions of plants with more being discovered all the time. Botanists, who are true plant lovers, work to name and categorize plants by how they look. Then they take a big bunch with similar characteristics, group them together, and call it a family. Interestingly enough, plants have similar properties to assist the body on its way to health. Yes, I am going to ask you to please reread the Botany and Blending sections to understand why it’s important to know the Botanical family of each oil. You’ll be glad you did, I promise.