Extraction of essential oil has been used for the purpose of making perfumes and for the benefit that herbal aromas have on an individual’s mood.
Herbs themselves have been used throughout time to heal, or used symbolically and ritualistically. In fact, many modern medicines originated from herbs. For example, the use of willow bark dates back to 400 B.C. when it was used for fever or inflammatory conditions. The useful ingredient in willow bark is salicin, which was extracted and used to create Bayer aspirin in 1900. The biblical account of wise men baring frankincense and myrrh at the birth of Jesus Christ signifies the importance given to herbs during that time period. It is important, however, to distinguish between the medicinal properties of herbs and the therapeutic qualities of their essential oils.
The Purpose of Extraction of Essential Oil
The effect of an herb is the result of all it’s pharmacological components, which interact with one another. The distillation of an essential oil is the extraction of the volatile oil from the herb, separating that oil from other important components of the plant and altering it’s medicinal qualities. At the same time, this extraction also concentrates the oil making it less safe to ingest and more potent than the herb in it’s natural state.