The Aromatic Pharmacy


What one modality can address hyperpigmentation, acne, rosacea, inflammation, sore muscles, hormones, cellulite, stress and more? And can create a sense of well-being for the client and practitioner, simultaneously? Begin the practice of aromatherapy with quality essential oils, and a myriad of treatment protocols will be at your fingertips. Essential oils are timeless, wise, mysterious and universal. They can guide us to a holistic approach to radiant beauty and health.

Essential Oil Basics

Essential Oils are aromatic fluids extracted from plants through steam distillation. Steam passes through the plant material, and the combination of steam and gentle pressure causes the highly aromatic essential oil to be released. These “oils” found in tiny sacs or globules within the plant, are highly aromatic, and although referred to as oils, are not fats, but tiny volatile molecules that vaporize quickly. Essential oils can be extracted from the resin, leaves, stems, roots, bark or flowers from a wide variety of botanicals. They can be used for fragrance as well as their therapeutic benefits. They contain the life force, or the spirit of the plant. Because of their high concentration, essential oils are 70-100 times stronger than the plant itself, and they need dilution with a carrier oil, lotion, creme or balm.

Aromatic molecules float through the air as we inhale through our nostrils to stimulate the limbic system in the brain, which is the area that houses the sense of smell, emotions and long-term memory. A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. The limbic system can also play a powerful role in the physiological functions, like blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.

Through the steam distillation process, there will be oil-soluble and water-soluble constituents that are extracted from the plant, which are named essential oils and hydrosols, both bearing many of the same healing properties. The resulting oil portion is the essential oil. This extract is highly concentrated and must be diluted before being applied to the skin. The water portion of the distillate is the hydrosol—hydro meaning water and sol meaning solution. Hydrosol contains a very small amount of essential oil in addition to the plant’s cellular water, giving both the hydrosol and essential oil similar therapeutic effects in different concentrations.

Continue reading about the health benefits of essential oils in our Digital Magazine...


Kim Manley is the creator and formulator of KM Herbals, as well as a practicing AromaHerbalist, massage therapist, flower essence practitioner, Reiki practitioner, educator and researcher.

More in Ingredients