WHAT IS AN ESSENTIAL OIL?

November 25, 2019 0 Comments

WHAT IS AN ESSENTIAL OIL?

Essential Oils definition:  The process of evaporating an often hazy, and less than pure liquid into an essentially visible gascous form and the subsequent condensation of the steam into a clear and fragrant, obviously pure, distillate.

A key issue with the study of essential oils is the diversity of philosophical and scientific approaches that contribute to the healing strategies of essential oils. 

This generally leads to unexpected questions.  For example, the attempt to explain the benefits of Lavender essential oil quickly turns into an exercise in epistemology.  As we experience Lavender's outstanding capacity to heal burns, we wonder why there is no research on this topic.  And then we notice that the absence of research gives rise to the contention that Lavender is ineffective. "It's impossible that Lavender heals burns because there is no research."

Why Pharmacology cannot demonstrate Essential Oil efficacy

To demonstrate the effect of a synthetic drug or natural substance within the framework of pharmacology, two conditions need to be fulfilled.  First, there needs to be an experiment connecting a specific substance to a specific effect. For example, to determine whether or not the molecule citral is a sedative, the duration of induced sleep in test animals is measured.  Second, pharmacology expects to see the results of the experiments fit into a larger narrative, which describes the mechanism for the observed action. For instance, citral acts as a sedative, because it decreases the irritability of the nervous system.  Ideally this outcome is then demonstrated by another experiment. 

Pharmacology Limitations

 Only one of all possible variables is allowed to change. All others have to be kept at a constant value.  This process works well for single component drugs, such as aspirin.  In the case of essential oils, where there are very large numbers of components contributing to the effect -- this process is elusive.  In order for pharmacology to make statements about multicomponent mixtures, they are forced to pick a presumed active ingredient and to measure its effect.  Using Lavender as a remedy for burns is a classic example. It is highly effective but only within the essential oil community. Pharmacology does not recommend the use of Lavender essential oil since it cannot find an active ingredient that mimics the effect of the whole oil.

 

 





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