Essential oils are extremely concentrated extracts from pure, living, plant matter. They have been used as healing substances in herbal medicine thousands of years by the people of the old world, the Far East & India. Most often these highly prized & potent oils are extracted by steam distillation, an extraction process whose origins can be traced to ancient mesopotamia. The leaves, flowers, roots, buds, twigs, wood, bark, resin, seeds, fruits & herbs can be used to extract essential oil. Worldwide there are about 3000 different essential oils, with only about 300 commonly used in cosmetics, perfumery, aromatherapy, incense, food & drink flavoring & some medicine.
Essential oils are the most concentrated form of any botanical. So much so that it takes at least 1 pound of any given plant to make just one gram of essential oil, and that's just the beginning. Some essential oils require an even more enormous amount of plant matter. Take, for example, Rose oil at 2 tons of roses per pound of oil, Neroli oil about 50 blossoms per drop, & Jasmine oil a ridiculous 3 tons of Jasmine flower petals to make just one pound of pure Jasmine oil. This explains why true Jasmine oil & the other exquisite, rare essential oils are so expensive. In fact it is safe to say that if an essential oil, especially from the exquisite range, is not reasonably expensive then it has most likely been adulterated & is not authentic.
The essential oil, while still found in the plant, has a few very crucial purposes; defense & attraction. These aromatic oils promote the plant's growth, attract the "right" kind of insects who play a necessary role in the plants reproduction, repel the "wrong" kind of insects & protect the plant from disease. It is thought that plants communicate through these natural, chemical, aromatic signals.
In skin care, essential oils stimulate cell circulation & encourage the formation of new skin cells, calm inflamed or irritated skin, soothe sore muscles & relieve muscular tension. Certain essential oils can encourage the production of white blood cells, boosting the body's immune system. The Mesopotamian's have known & used the benefits of essential oils for thousands of years, why is it taking us so long to make the right decision?