Known as “the Wise Weeds Lady” to many people over the years, I have been blending essential oils, cosmetic grade fragrance oils and herbs to make my herbal healing, mystical, magical and spiritual oils for even longer than the establishment of Wise Weeds in 1992.
I’m a certified medicinal herbalist, transpersonal hypnotherapist and Reiki practitioner who has taught herbalism, aromatherapy and other healing practices in a variety of venues, including a community college, many adult education programs, Barnes & Noble bookstores,gift shops, beauty spas and salons, festivals and many other places. I've appeared on radio,cable and network television shows over the years, as well as been featured in newpaper articles.
Over the years, I’ve learned more and more about safe practices using oils. I’ve also seen how many vendors sell their products via false advertising, whereby they confuse the consumer
by promoting oils as being essential oil based, when they are not.
As a consumer, you have a right to know what you are buying. I make no bones that I use cosmetic grade fragrance oils in some of my blends. Unlike many others on the market, whether ignorant or greedy, I do not call my blends “essences” thereby giving the impression, but not the reality, that certain oils are essential, plant-based oils.
There are some spiritual practitioners who value only actual essential oils and/or herbs in oil blends. Their reasoning is that the plants imbue the product with a type of natural magic that cannot be found in synthetically based products.
While I myself tend to follow this belief, on a practical level, certain scents are NOT generally available, except as synthetics. For example, Gardenia Absolute is rare, hard to obtain and VERY expensive. Rose Otto is more readily available, however, it is still extremely expensive. It is virtually impossible to obtain a natural Lilac fragrance. So I will use synthetic versions of these oils in blends. But, again, I don’t hide the fact from anyone, nor do I try to mislead anyone.
If you’re buying a one-dram bottle of rose oil essence for $5.00, it’s not the real McCoy. Believe me, I've had people insist they had found a "bargain." Well, you get what you pay for.
On the other hand, if someone has infused rose petals into oil to get the scent, the oil blend will not be an “essential” oil, but it may be a wonderful treat. I used to own such an oil many years ago, and the scent was delightful and quite magical. But it was not an essential oil, nor had it been sold to me under that guise.
What actually are essential oils?
The essential oils of herbs contain their concentrated energies. An essential oil usually bears the aroma and/or flavor of a plant, although the intensity of the scent may be overwhelming compared to what you're used to the plant smelling like.
Found in Various Plant Parts
Unlike fixed oils, essential oils are volatile. This means they evaporate rapidly at room temperature, whereas fixed oils, such as vegetable or motor oils, are more stable. Chemically, essential oils consist of a complex mixture of 30 to 100 or more compounds.
Herbally-infused oils are different creatures than essential oils. An herbally-infused oil consists of plant material that is infused into a carrier or base oil. This base oil takes on the medicinal qualities of the herb, and can often be used either by itself or with another vegetable oil for massage therapy or as the base for an herbal salve.
I, myself, will often include some herbs in certain oils blends, taking a cue from certain hoodoo and voodoo traditional blendings of spiritual oils.
More often, I make herbally infused oils with a direct medicinal usage in mind. For example,
Hypericum oil consists of the fresh flowering tops of St. Johnswort infused into olive or some other carrier oil. Comfrey infused oil forms the basis of comfrey salve, used for healing.
And, of course, my Banish Pain oils consist of a combination of herbally infused oils and essential oils to help reduce or eliminate inflammation and pain.