What is an Essential Oil?

“What is an Essential Oil?”

Firstly, please let me start off by saying that essential oils are not simply “fragrance” oils, used in perfumes, body products, and candles… This can be hugely confusing, since many products that are man-made such as synthetic fragrances, include as little as 1 drop (or less) of pure plant essential oil, and can legally still be labeled as an “Essential Oil”. But, of course, these synthetic products can be very toxic and harmful to the body. They offer zero health benefits and are not intended for therapeutic, alternative health practices of any kind.

The essential oils that I share about here on my blog, in my workshops and within my holistic healing courses are 100% pure, unaltered, plant essential oils. These pure essential oils are highly concentrated, naturally existing chemical compounds, that are essentially the blood of plants & the SOUL of Aromatherapy… 

Prior to extraction, they are called the plant’s “essence”. Once they are extracted, these oils can offer incredible, high potency benefits to the Whole, or “Transpersonal” Person- the mind, physical body, spirit, energy body, and emotions. 

Plants that produce these essential oils, produce them for the purpose of survival. Specifically for defense from being eaten, and to attract pollinators….

We humans, (with much more respect and gratitude) have learned how to use them and incorporate them within our everyday lives, as holistic tools for joy, balance, vitality, natural health and wellness!

I will be covering much more on the use of essential oils, methods, usage and essential oil safety, in the Aromatherapy posts that follow! 

How do plants produce essential oils?”

“Essential oils are created and stored in specialized plant structures such as secretory cells, glands, glandular hairs, and oil or resin ducts. The secretory cells that produce the volatile oils trap the photoelectromagnetic energy of the sun, and with the help of glucose, convert it into biochemical energy in the form of aromatic molecules. In a process similar to photosynthesis, plants create essential oils by trapping and transmuting light and energy.”

Credit and Resource: Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green.

Do all plants produce essential oils?”

No, not all plants produce essential oils. It is unknown as to why some plants produce essential oils, while others don’t. We do know, however, that there are 10 major essential oil-bearing plant families, which I will list for you below: (Reference, page 6, Essential Oil Safty, by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young)

The 10 Major Plant Families that Produce Essential Oils:

  1. Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
  2. Asteraceae (Compositae)
  3. Cupressaceae
  4. Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
  5. Lauraceae
  6. Myrtaceae
  7. Pinaceae
  8. Poaceae
  9. Rutaceae
  10. Zingiberaceae

A Quick Note Regarding Synthetics, and Why Quality Matters

OK, Beauties, I just want to take a second to mention Synthetic Fragrances… 

When I first began looking into using essential oils for energetic balancing and basic mood management, the prices scared me, so one day, when I saw a $5 bottle of Lavender at TJ Maxx, I jumped on it, thinking I got a great deal! Well, when I got home, smelled it, (it smelt BAD), and read up a bit more about therapeutic grade 100% pure essential oils, I realized that my “great find” was $5 wasted…

What I had purchased was a $5 bottle of synthetic fragrance (labeled as “essential oil”), which was packed with chemicals (something I was trying to lessen my family’s exposure to). 

So, here is the tricky thing with essential oil marketing… As long as a company has included as little as even a single drop of pure essential oil into their synthetic fragrance product, they can legally label it and market it as an “essential oil”. Fall prey to these “bargain brand” essential oils and you will actually be doing more harm to your health, then good.

What we are looking for specifically, when we turn to Aromatherapy as a holistic healing tool and synthetic chemical free alternative, we need to know what to look for, so we actually invest in true, 100% pure essential oils that offer natural therapeutic benefits, with no additive or alterations. These are the pure essence of the plant, and there is nothing unnatural or man-made about them. Plant medicine! Yay!



Essential oils are the highly concentrated chemical compounds of plants, which make them an invaluable alternative health tool for individuals to use at home, and for professional use within the field of Holistic Healing.

Throughout this blog, I will be using and referring to my personal essential oil brand of choice, which is Doterra, but you are free to use this information in conjunction with whichever brand of essential oil that you love and trust, most!

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