Little Flower begins with the highest of intentions to create beautiful natural products and blends that serve the highest and greatest good of the user.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is defined as the therapeutic use of pure unadulterated essential oils, hydrosols and other fragrant plant materials for holistic health treatments. Essential oils are volatile (how quickly the oil disperses into the air) substances derived from plant material, such as, the flower, leaves, roots, bark, seed, or fruit. They are extracted via steam distillation, solvent extraction, carbon dioxide extraction or manual expression. Each oil has its own specific medicinal properties. On average essential oils can contain close to 100 chemical components which give the oil it’s medicinal properties. It is important to note that not all plants contain essential oils. Plants, such as, apple, peach, cherry, watermelon, lilac, honeysuckle are fragrance oils and not essential oils. There are both natural and synthetic fragrance oils. Either type of fragrance oil will provide a lovely aroma to products with no therapeutic value. Essential oils do provide therapeutic benefits in addition to a lovely natural aroma. When using essential oils in body care products one must use caution as essential oils do have their own safety concerns.
In addition to essential oils there is another lesser-known branch of aromatherapy which are known as hydrosols. Hydrosols are the aromatic waters left behind after essential oils are extracted from the plant. Hydrosols contain trace amounts of essential oils and plant materials making them very gentle and safe to use without further dilution. Not all plants produce hydrosols. Again, it is important to note the difference between a hydrosol and fragrance waters. To ascertain the difference, it is important to read the ingredients on the label. If the product does not offer the ingredients list on the label or website, it is best not use that particular product.
Essential oils and hydrosols both have important therapeutic properties, which can include, depending on the essential oil/hydrosol: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-spasmodic, immunostimulant, regenerative, sedative…the list goes on and on. These therapeutic properties help with sleep, stress, anxiety, pain, inflammation, immune support. One essential oil or hydrosol contains a multitude of benefits…the aroma alone helps with many of these concerns. Take lavender for example, it contains the following therapeutic properties: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, skin healing, sedative, deodorant, tonic, and immunostimulant. It is no wonder lavender is the most popular essential oil on the market today! This one essential performs so many amazing tasks…then pair it with one or two more oils and you have a very powerful tool to support your health. You can check out some amazing blends at Little Flower's Shop and learn more about their awesome therapeutic and spiritual benefits.
What are “Pure” Essential Oils?
The essential oil industry is not currently regulated by the FDA, therefore, there are no strict rules on what constitutes “pure” essential oils. You will see essential oils that are labeled “pure”, “natural”, “therapeutic grade” or “organic” (which is regulated by the FDA). Since there is no hard and fast rule, essential oil companies use terms that help their essential oils to sound the most natural and pure…but how do you know the oil in the bottle is what the company claims it to be? The essential oil industry is an $18 billion a year industry and growing! There are so many companies vying for your attention, dollars and loyalty. How do you know which company to trust? The only true way to know what is in any given bottle of essential oil is to have the oil tested by a non-biased third party. This type of reporting is called GS/MS reporting. These reports break down the oil into its individual therapeutic components. Third party reporting will show if the oil has been adulterated with a carrier oil (this happens often with the expensive oils like rose absolute or jasmine). It also confirms the date of extraction, the region and the method of extraction. This information gives the consumer the comfort level of knowing a third party has analyzed and vetted the ingredients in the bottle. This is the only true way to know the quality of the oil you are purchasing. Many essential oil companies offer these reports and many more do not. Little Flower only purchases essential oils from companies that offer GC/MS reports for their oils. In our product descriptions we use the term “therapeutic grade”. This means the essential oils we use have been verified and do have the therapeutic properties as claimed by the company. If the company you are currently purchasing essential oils from does not offer this type of reporting, we encourage you to ask them (and yourself) why? Reputation alone cannot be the factor for purchasing these precious and sometimes costly oils. We encourage you to research the companies where you purchase your essential oils. Most companies that offer GC/MS reports have them right on their website. You can look at the report before purchasing the essential oil. If you have questions or need recommendations, I encourage you to message me. I am happy to share some very reputable companies that offer affordable essential and third-party reporting.
Safety Concerns and Essential Oils
Essential oils are powerful natural chemical substances. Some are extremely gentle, such as, lavender and others can be caustic, such as, cinnamon. It is important to understand the safety concerns associated with all essential oils before using them. Additionally, it is important to note that essential oils should never be used neat…or undiluted. Even gentle lavender should be diluted with a carrier oil or cream before being applied to the skin. The only exception is in the case of an acute issue, such as, a burn. During an acute situation, you can apply lavender or helichrysum undiluted to a minor burn, such as, a burn from the oven. For the most part though, essential oils should always be diluted. Not diluting essential oils before applying them to skin can lead to skin sensitization and eventually developing an immunity to that particular oil.
Additionally, essential oils should not be taken internally unless you are under the direction of an aromatherapist who is trained in the internal use of essential oils. Essential oils are not vitamins and they are not supplements. They are powerful chemical plant components. For instance, lemon, which is a wonderful and very powerful essential oil; yet it is not a vitamin. Many people think adding a drop of lemon essential oil to their water is beneficial, like adding a slice of lemon but somehow better. It is not...you should not put a drop a lemon essential oil in your glass of water. Essential oils and water do not mix. The oil will sit in the water in a big glob and then when you drink it, will find a place to sit in your body…maybe your throat or the lining of your stomach. Over time you can do serious damage internally and you will also most likely develop a sensitivity to the oil itself. If you are currently taking essential oils internally, ask yourself why? There are appropriate times to use essential oils internally, however, it should only done with a professionally trained aromatherapist (I am not trained in the internal use of essential oils and I personally do not use them internally...check out the About tab to see my experience and training).
There are many more safety concerns with these beautiful powerful substances. It is important to educate yourself or go to a trusted trained professional when purchasing blends for yourself or a loved one. If you have any questions regarding how to use the essential oils that you have in your home apothecary, just message me! I love to hear from my customers! :-)
Other Important Stuff to Know...
Essential oils are not a substitute for traditional medical advice. However, it is a wonderful compliment to traditional medical modalities. Talk with your healthcare professional as to how essential oils can support and enhance your physical, mental and spiritual health. I am happy to work with you one on one to support your pathway to health and higher self.