How aromatherapy works.
There are two ways in which is essential oils can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
1) Through the skin
Essential oils are absorbed into the body through the skin, by means of diffusion. As the skin is semi-permeable, the essential oils can be absorbed through the sweat pores and the hair follicle. Being fat soluble, the oil dissolves in sebum, produced by the sebaceous glands and passes into the dermis through the capillary network. They are then carried by the blood and lymphatic system throughout the body. This action is enhanced by massage.
Along with having positive effects on all internal systems, essential oils have amazing qualities to address many external conditions, such as skin imbalances. The therapeutic values of essential oils vary greatly from one oil to the next, while at the same time many share qualities. This is why essential oils are used widely in skincare products. These precious oils are often used to treat rosacea, acne, eczema and psoriasis. A skin condition by definition doesnt need to be present to appreciate the exquisite value of essential oils. They are also valuable additions to skincare products for those with oily skin, sensitive skin, dry skin, mature skin and even normal skin. Essential oils are now commonly found in good skincare products, including cleansers and facial washes, toners, moisturisers and masks.
2) Through Respiration.
Being Volatile, the Essential Oils quickly and easily become gaseous in nature. These molecules are inhaled and pass through the respiratory system until reaching the alveoli. This is where gaseous exchange takes place. The alveoli are surrounded by a network of capillaries and a membrane of simple epithelial cells. The inhaled essential oil molecules diffuse through this membrane and are transported in tissue fluids. The essential oil molecules can also dissolve in mucous in the inner nasal cavity or be transported to the olfactory nerves by electrochemical message.
Essential oils have three distinct modes of action:
Pharmacological action- the reaction with hormones and enzymes.
Physiological effect – the physical effect on all systems of the body, including its largest organ, the skin.
Psychological effect – how it affects the mind, i.e. sense of well-being, calms the mind.
Purity of Essential Oils
The most common method used to check the purity of essential oils is gas liquid chromatography (GLC). Chromatography is a method of separating substances in a mixture, showing its chemical make-up. A small quantity of essential oil is injected and to a fine, coiled, tubular column and is filled with an absorbent material. The coil has gas flowing through it and is fitted within a temperature- controlled oven. The heat causes the lighter components to be carried along the column more quickly. The time it takes for each component to pass along the column is called retention time. The reading for each batch is compared with an original copy and any variances may indicate that the essential oil has been adulterated. Each essential oil is then given a certificate stating its authenticity and batch number confirming its purity.