- essential plant oils
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- list of essential oils and their uses
Common Types of Plant Oils
Most eucalyptus oil on the market is produced from the leaves of Eucalyptus globulus. Steam-distilled eucalyptus oil is used throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and South America as a primary cleaning/disinfecting agent added to soaped mop and countertop cleaning solutions; it also possesses insect and limited vermin control properties. Note, however, there are hundreds of species of eucalyptus, and perhaps some dozens are used to various extents as sources of essential oils. Not only do the products of different species differ greatly in characteristics and effects, but also the products of the very same tree can vary grossly.
Lavender oil has long been used in the production of perfume. However, it can be estrogenic and antiandrogenic, causing problems for prepubescent boys and pregnant women, in particular. Lavender essential oil is also used as an insect repellent.
Rose oil is produced from the petals of Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia. Steam-distilled rose oil is known as "rose otto", while the solvent extracted product is known as "rose absolute".
Potential Dangers of Oils
The potential danger of an essential oil is sometimes relative to its level or grade of purity, and sometimes related to the toxicity of specific chemical components of the oil. Many essential oils are designed exclusively for their aroma-therapeutic quality; these essential oils generally should not be applied directly to the skin in their undiluted or "neat" form. Some can cause severe irritation, provoke an allergic reaction and, over time, prove hepatotoxic. Some essential oils, including many of the citrus peel oils, are photosensitizers, increasing the skin's vulnerability to sunlight.
Industrial users of essential oils should consult the safety data sheets (SDS) to determine the hazards and handling requirements of particular oils. Even certain therapeutic grade oils can pose potential threats to individuals with epilepsy or pregnant women.
Ingestion and Oils
are used extensively as GRAS flavoring agents in foods, beverages, and confectioneries according to strict Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and flavorist standards. Pharmacopoeia standards for medicinal oils should be heeded. Some oils can be toxic to some domestic animals, cats in particular. The internal use of essential oils can pose hazards to pregnant women, as some can be abortifacients in dose 0.5–10 ml, and thus should not be used during pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Oils
The use of essential oils in pregnancy is highly not recommended due to inadequate published evidence to demonstrate evidence of safety. Pregnant women often report an abnormal sensitivity to smells and taste, and essential oils can cause irritation and nausea.
>strong>Essential Oil use in children can pose a danger when misused because of their thin skin and immature livers. This might cause them to be more susceptible to toxic effects than adults.
Estrogenic and antiandrogenic activity have been reported by in vitro study of tea tree oil and lavender essential oils. Case reports suggest the oils may be implicated in some cases of gynecomastia, an abnormal breast tissue growth in prepubescent boys. The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety dismissed the claims as implausible in 2008. However, in 2018, a study led by J. Tyler Ramsey of the American National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that these oils contain eight substances that affect human hormones, increasing the level of oestrogen and decreasing the level of testosterone. Some of the substances are found in "at least 65 other essential oils".
Exposure to essential oils may cause a contact dermatitis. Essential oils can be aggressive toward rubbers and plastics, so care must be taken in choosing the correct handling equipment. Glass syringes are often used, but have coarse volumetric graduations. Chemistry syringes are ideal, as they resist essential oils, are long enough to enter deep vessels, and have fine graduations, facilitating quality control. Unlike traditional pipettes, which have difficulty handling viscous fluids, the chemistry syringe, also known as a positive displacement pipette, has a seal and piston arrangement which slides inside the pipette, wiping the essential oil off the pipette wall.
Flammability in Oils
The flash point of each essential oil is different. Many of the common essential oils, such as tea tree, lavender, and citrus oils, are classed as a Class 3 Flammable Liquid, as they have a flash point of 50–60 °C.
Toxicology in Oils
The following table lists the LD50 or median lethal dose for common oils; this is the dose required to kill half the members of a tested animal population. LD50 is intended as a guideline only, and reported values can vary widely due to differences in tested species and testing conditions.
Pesticide residues in Oils
There is some concern about pesticide residues in essential oils, particularly those used therapeutically. For this reason, many practitioners of aromatherapy buy organically produced oils. Not only are pesticides present in trace quantities, but also the oils themselves are used in tiny quantities and usually in high dilutions. Where there is a concern about pesticide residues in food essential oils, such as mint or orange oils, the proper criterion is not solely whether the material is organically produced, but whether it meets the government standards based on actual analysis of its pesticide content.
Oil Use in aromatherapy
Essential oils are used in aromatherapy as part of, for example, essential oil diffusers.
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine in which healing effects are ascribed to the aromatic compounds in essential oils and other plant extracts. Aromatherapy may be useful to induce relaxation, but there is not sufficient evidence that essential oils can effectively treat any condition. Essential oils should not be interpreted to be cures for chronic disease, or other illnesses, as scientific research does not support this. Much of the research on the use of essential oils for health purposes has serious methodological errors. In a systemic review of 201 published studies on essential oils as alternative medicines, only 10 were found to be of acceptable methodological quality, and even these 10 were still weak in reference to scientific standards. Use of essential oils may cause harm including allergic reactions and skin irritation; there has been at least one case of death. As such, the use of essential oils as an alternative medicine should be approached with caution.
Oil Use as pesticide
Research has shown that essential oils have potential as a natural pesticide. In case studies, certain oils have been shown to have a variety of deterring effects on pests, specifically insects and select arthropods. These effects may include repelling, inhibiting digestion, stunting growth, decreasing rate of reproduction, or death of pests that consume the oil. However, the molecules within the oils that cause these effects are normally non-toxic for mammals. These specific actions of the molecules allow for widespread use of these green pesticides without harmful effects to anything other than pests. Essential oils that have been investigated include rose, lemon grass, lavender, thyme, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
Although they may not be the perfect replacement for all synthetic pesticides, essential oils have prospects for crop or indoor plant protection, urban pest control, and marketed insect repellants, such as bug spray. Certain essential oils have been shown in studies to be comparable, if not exceeding, in effectiveness to DEET, which is currently marketed as the most effective mosquito repellent. Although essential oils are effective as pesticides when first applied in uses such as mosquito repellent applied to the skin, it is only effective in the vapor stage. Since this stage is relatively short-lived, creams and polymer mixtures are used in order to elongate the vapor period of effective repellency.
In any form, using essential oils as green pesticides rather than synthetic pesticides has ecological benefits such as decreased residual actions. In addition, increased use of essential oils as pest control could have not only ecological, but economical benefits as the essential oil market diversifies and popularity increases among organic farmers and environmentally conscious consumers.
Essential oils are usually lipophilic compounds that usually are not miscible with water. They can be diluted in solvents like pure ethanol and polyethylene glycol. The most common way to safely dilute essential oils for topical use is in a carrier oil. This can be any vegetable oil readily available, the most popular for skin care being jojoba, coconut, wheat germ, olive and avocado.