There are more than 90 types of essential oils, each with its own unique smell and potential health benefits.
Here’s a list of 10 popular essential oils and the health claims associated with them:
- Peppermint: Used to boost energy and help with digestion.
- Lavender: Used for stress relief.
- Sandalwood: Used to calm nerves and help with focus.
- Bergamot: Used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema.
- Rose: Used to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
- Chamomile: Used for improving mood and relaxation.
- Ylang-Ylang: Used to treat headaches, nausea and skin conditions.
- Tea Tree: Used to fight infections and boost immunity.
- Jasmine: Used to help with depression, childbirth and libido.
- Lemon: Used to aid digestion, mood, headaches and more
The term essential oil dates back to the sixteenth century and derives from the drug Quinta essentia, named by Paracelsus von Hohenheim of Switzerland . Essential oils or “essences” owe their name to their flammability. Numerous authors have attempted to provide a definition of essential oils. The French Agency for Normalization: Agence Française de Normalisation (AFNOR) gives the following definition (NF T 75-006): “The essential oil is the product obtained from a vegetable raw material, either by steam distillation or by mechanical processes from the epicarp of Citrus, or “dry”” distillation. The essential oil is then separated from the aqueous phase by physical means . This definition encompasses products obtained always from vegetable raw material, but using other extraction methods, such as using non-aqueous solvents or cold absorption. Thus, we can define four types of products .
Essential oils are soluble in alcohol, ether, and fixed oils, but insoluble in water. These volatile oils are generally liquid and colorless at room temperature. They have a characteristic odor, are usually liquid at room temperature and have a density less than unity, with the exception of a few cases (cinnamon, sassafras, and vetiver). They have a refractive index and a very high optical activity. These volatile oils contained in herbs are responsible for different scents that plants emit. They are widely used in the cosmetics industry, perfumery, and also aromatherapy. The latter is intended as a therapeutic technique including massage, inhalations, or baths using these volatile oils. The last key will serve as chemical signals allowing the plant to control or regulate its environment (ecological role): attraction of pollinating insects, repellent to predators, inhibition of seed germination, or communication between plants (emission signals chemically signaling the presence of herbivores, for example). Moreover, EOs also possesses antifungal or insecticide and deterrent activities. All parts of aromatic plants may contain essential oils as follows:
Flowers, of course, including: orange, pink, lavender, and the (clove) flower bud or (ylang-ylang) bracts,
Leaves, most often, including: eucalyptus, mint, thyme, bay leaf, savory, sage, pine needles, and tree underground organs, e.g., roots (vetiver),
Rhizomes (ginger, sweet flag),
Seeds (carvi, coriander),
Fruits, including: fennel, anise, Citrus epicarps,
Wood and bark, including: cinnamon, sandalwood, rosewood.
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An aroma compound, also known as an odorant, aroma, fragrance, or flavor, is a chemical compound that has a smell or odor. A chemical compound has a smell or odor when it is sufficiently volatile to be transported to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose.
Generally molecules meeting this specification have molecular weights of less than 300. Flavors affect both the sense of taste and smell, whereas fragrances affect only smell. Flavors tend to be naturally occurring, and fragrances tend to be synthetic.
Aroma compounds can be found in food, wine, spices, floral scent, perfumes, fragrance oils, and essential oils. For example, many form biochemically during the ripening of fruits and other crops. In wines, most form as byproducts of fermentation. Also, many of the aroma compounds play a significant role in the production of flavorants, which are used in the food service industry to flavor, improve, and generally increase the appeal of their products.