Essential Oils & Aromatherapy Glossary: Unlocking the Power of Scents

Essential Oils & Aromatherapy Glossary: Unlocking the Power of Scents

Aromatherapy  The practice of using essential oils to promote health, well-being and balance in the body and mind.

Carrier Oil  A neutral, usually plant-based oil used to dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin. Examples include jojoba, sweet almond and coconut oil.

Diffuser  A device that disperses essential oils into the air, typically through water vapor or a fine mist, allowing them to be inhaled for therapeutic benefits.

Distillation  The process of extracting essential oils from plants, often through steam or water, which separates the oil from the plant material.

Essential Oil  Highly concentrated, volatile plant extracts obtained through distillation, cold pressing or other extraction methods, valued for their therapeutic properties.

Extraction  The method used to separate essential oils from plant material, which may include steam distillation, cold pressing or solvent extraction.

Cold Pressing  A method of extracting essential oils, typically from citrus fruits, by mechanically pressing the plant material, without the use of heat.

Hydrosol  A byproduct of the essential oil distillation process, hydrosols are aromatic waters that contain a small amount of essential oil, often used in skincare and aromatherapy.

Inhalation  The method of experiencing essential oils by breathing in the aroma, either directly from the bottle or through a diffuser, to promote emotional and physical well-being.

Massage  A common application method for essential oils, in which diluted oils are massaged into the skin to deliver their therapeutic benefits.

Neat  Applying essential oils directly to the skin without dilution, which should be done with caution due to the potential for skin irritation.

Phototoxicity  A reaction that occurs when certain essential oils, such as citrus oils, are applied to the skin and then exposed to sunlight, causing skin irritation or burns.

Steam Distillation  A widely used method of extracting essential oils from plant material, involving the use of steam to vaporize the volatile compounds, which are then collected and condensed.

Synergy  The interaction of two or more essential oils, which can produce a combined effect that is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Top Note  The initial scent impression of an essential oil, typically light and evaporating quickly, often experienced first when inhaling a blend.

Middle Note  The main body of an essential oil's aroma, which usually lasts longer than top notes and helps to balance the overall scent of a blend.

Base Note  The longest-lasting component of an essential oil's aroma, which adds depth and richness to a blend and helps to anchor the lighter top and middle notes.

Therapeutic Grade  A term used to describe essential oils that are pure, unadulterated, and meet specific quality standards, although not regulated by any official organization.

Volatile  A term used to describe the characteristic of essential oils that allows them to evaporate easily and release their aroma into the air.

Blending  The process of combining two or more essential oils to create a synergistic effect, often with a specific therapeutic purpose or to create a desired aroma.

Patch Test  A method used to test for potential skin reactions to an essential oil by applying a small amount of diluted oil to a discreet area of skin and observing for any signs of irritation.

Botanical Name  The scientific name of a plant, consisting of the genus and species, which helps to accurately identify the source of an essential oil.

Chemotype  Variations in the chemical composition of essential oils from the same plant species, influenced by factors such as climate, soil and harvest time.

Dilution  The process of reducing the concentration of an essential oil by mixing it with a carrier oil or other substance, making it safer for use on the skin or in aromatherapy.

Infusion  A method of extracting the beneficial properties of plant material by steeping it in a liquid, such as oil or water, often used for creating herbal oils and tinctures.

Solvent Extraction  A method of extracting essential oils from plant material using a solvent, such as alcohol or hexane, which is later removed to leave behind the pure oil.

Tincture  A concentrated liquid extract made by soaking plant material in a solvent, such as alcohol, which preserves the active components for therapeutic use.

Absolute  A highly concentrated, aromatic oil extracted from plant material using solvent extraction, often used in perfumery due to its potent aroma and longer shelf life.

Resin  A thick, sticky substance secreted by some plants, often used as a base material for producing essential oils, incense, and other aromatic products.

Fixative - A substance, often a base note essential oil or a resin, used to stabilize and extend the longevity of a blend's aroma.

Aromatherapy Jewelry - Accessories, such as pendants or bracelets, designed to hold a small amount of essential oil or a porous material infused with oil, allowing the wearer to enjoy the aroma throughout the day.

Essential Oil Safety  The practice of using essential oils responsibly, following proper dilution guidelines, and being aware of potential contraindications or interactions with medications or health conditions.

GC/MS Testing  Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, a laboratory method used to analyze the chemical composition of essential oils and to ensure their purity and quality.

Holistic Aromatherapy  An approach to aromatherapy that takes into account the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of an individual's well-being, using essential oils to support overall balance and harmony.

Olfactory System  The sensory system responsible for the sense of smell, playing a key role in the perception and therapeutic effects of essential oils.

Pregnancy and Essential Oils  The use of essential oils during pregnancy requires caution and consultation with a healthcare professional, as some oils may not be safe for use during this time.

Children and Essential Oils  Special care should be taken when using essential oils with children, as their skin can be more sensitive and some oils may not be suitable for use with young ones. Always consult a professional and follow proper dilution guidelines.