Welcome to Tisserand Aromatherapy, the home of top quality essential oils and luxurious aromatherapy, beauty and wellbeing products. Straight from nature Tisserand Aromatherapy essential oils are extracted from flowers, leaves, bark, woods and fruit and are always 100% pure and fresh. Tisserand Aromatherapy produce simply the best essential oils available for home, family and professional use.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile oils – known as essential oils - to promote psychological and physical wellbeing. Essential oils are the pure 'essences' found in flowers, berries, grasses, roots, seeds, bark, fruits and herbs, and are extracted mainly by steam or water distillation. All oils have their own unique character, aroma and therapeutic properties; as they are highly concentrated, a little goes a long way.
Essential oils consist of tiny aromatic chemicals that aid in a variety of health, beauty and hygiene conditions. We can all benefit from these via massage, bathing, vaporisation and inhalation.
The History Of Aromatherapy From Around The World
According to the orthodox view of history, civilisation began with the ancient Egyptians some 5300 years ago. The oldest pyramid was built in the third dynasty, around 3000 BC, by King Zoser's chief architect, Imtohep, who was also astronomer and physician to the King. He certainly did much to advance medical knowledge and since infused oils and aromatic unguents used were so often in Egyptian medicine, we could probably justifiably label him as the grandfather of aromatherapy.
One of the earliest and most celebrated aromatic formulas was a mixture of sixteen aromatics, known as kyphi. We cannot be sure of the exact ingredients, but most experts agree that it contained myrrh, juniper, cinnamon, spikenard, frankincense, saffron and cassia, amongst others. It must have been very popular; as well as being used in temples, kyphi was burned in the house to make it smell sweet and used as a perfume for the body and clothes (later used as a liquid perfume by both Greeks and Romans).
Kyphi was also employed as a medicine. According to Plutarch, a Greek historian, "Its aromatic substances lull to sleep, allay anxieties and brighten dreams. It is made of things that delight most in the night", making it the original 'opium of the masses'. When one of the sealed flasks discovered when the tomb of Tutankhamum was opened in 1922, it contained an unguent that, after 3300 years, still had a perceptible odour. Analysis revealed the presence of frankincense and spikenard. Perhaps this is the only surviving bottle of the world's first perfume.
According to Wikipedia (as of November 13th 2007), "The word "aromatherapy" was first used in the 1920s by French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé, who devoted his life to researching the healing properties of essential oils after a lucky accident in his perfume laboratory. In the accident, he set his arm on fire and thrust it into the nearest cold liquid, which happened to be a vat of NOx Ph232 or more commonly known as lavender oil. Immediately he noticed surprising pain relief, and instead of requiring the extended healing process he had experienced during recovery from previous burns--which caused redness, heat, inflammation, blisters, and scarring--this burn healed remarkably quickly, with minimal discomfort and no scarring."
It's remarkable how the mythical aspects of "Gattefossé's burn" have continued, becoming more and more elaborate, long after the publication in English, in 1993, of his 1937 book Aromathérapie, which did indeed represent the first introduction of the word (though not in the 1920s). Yes, he burned his hand in his laboratory (he was a chemist) and yes, he treated it with lavender oil, but the notion that this was a eureka-like, lucky-chance moment is somewhat exaggerated. And there was no "vat" of lavender. And he did not "devote his life" to researching aromatherapy. Translated from French, this is Gattefossé's own description of the incident, and this is all he has to say about it:
"The external application of small quantities of essences rapidly stops the spread of gangrenous sores. In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped "the gasification of the tissue". This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910)."
His application of lavender oil was clearly an intentional act, though the result still delighted him, and possibly saved his life. Gas gangrene is a potentially fatal condition, and was the cause of many amputations and deaths in the First World War.
Although traumatic gas gangrene is rare today, 25% of those who contract it still die. It is caused by infection of a wound, most commonly by Clostridium perfringens. Onset is rapid and dramatic (though it normally takes 1-4 days from the time of infection), with bacterial toxins causing tissue death and subcutaneous swelling and gas. Sweating is one of the early symptoms of infection. Since the bacterium is most commonly found in soil, Gattefossé's rolling in the grass might have precipitated the infection.
While the incident did not initiate his study of aromatherapy, it was certainly a strong hint - a definite push in a direction he was already headed. Subsequently he collaborated with a number of doctors who treated French soldiers for war wounds using lavender and other essential oils. The accounts of these cases constitute a large part of his text.
In Gattefossé's book we also find the first written record in modern times to the skin as a route of administration for essential oils. He talks about oral, rectal, inhalational and injection (they had all been used by then) and continues: "Why not add cutaneous absorption to this list?" This hint was later taken up by Marguerite Maury, but that's another story.
René-Marice Gattefossé (author) Robert B. Tisserand (editor) 1993 Gattefossé's aromatherapy: the first book on aromatherapy. CW Daniel, Saffron Walden, p 87
How To Use Essential Oils
Research on odour reveals that we respond emotionally more to smell than to any of our other senses. Because of this, aromatherapy enables us to benefit from the special properties of pure essential oils that are derived from the odoriferous parts of plants.
There are various ways to use essential oils, whether for their therapeutic properties, to enhance well-being or purely for pleasure:
There is nothing quite like a massage to make you feel soothed or energised. As pure essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin, they need to be diluted first. To do this, mix up to 5 drops of pure essential oil, or blend of oils, per 10mls (one tablespoon) of vegetable oil or lotion blending base.
Bathing with pure essential oils is one of the easiest and most enjoyable forms of therapy. Just before getting into a full bath, add 8-10 drops of essential oil, or blend of oils, then agitate the water to disperse. While you relax in the bath, the skin absorbs a small amount of oil and the heat of the water slowly evaporates the rest.
The evaporative properties of pure essential oils make them ideal for use in a vaporiser. To create the ambience of your choice, simply add 6-12 drops of essential oil to your favourite vaporiser - perfect for the home or workplace.
Some pure essential oils, such as eucalyptus with its wonderful clearing properties, are ideal for inhalation. Add 3-5 drops of pure essential oil to a bowl of very hot water (not boiling) and inhale the vapour for 5-10 minutes. If this method is not convenient, simply add 1-2 drops of essential oil to a tissue and inhale - ideal if you are out and about.
Tisserand Aromatherapy Oils are so good, they're used and recommended by professional aromatherapists around the world!
Essential Oil Safety Information
As essential oils are highly concentrated, it is important not to exceed the number of recommended drops.
Essential oils should never be taken internally without seeking the advice of a professional practitioner. With all essential oils, even when diluted, contact with sensitive areas such as the eyes should be avoided. If however essential oil does get into the eyes, wash them immediately with plenty of water and seek medical attention.
Bergamot essential oil should not be used before exposure to the sun or a sunbed.
Lemongrass, Citronella, May Chang and tea-tree should not be used on children under two years old or on sensitive skin.
When massaging children under 6 years old, no more than 2 drops of essential oil per 10mls (two teaspoons) of vegetable oil or lotion blending base should be used, and no more than 2 drops of essential oil should be added to their bath or vaporiser.
Essential oils, even when diluted, should be used with caution on children under two years old.
All pure essential oils should be kept out of reach of children. If a child accidentally swallows any essential oil, seek urgent medical attention.
If you have a skin condition, are pregnant, have epilepsy or asthma, are on a course of treatment with prescribed medication, or are in any doubt about any condition you may have, it is important that you seek the advice of a doctor or suitable practitioner before using pure essential oils.
The Life Cycle Of An Essential Oil
Only certain plants contain essential oils, and they are known as aromatic plants. Many fruits and vegetable also contain essential oils, though most are not extracted. The oil is formed in very small structures in the leaves, flowers, or other parts of the plant, known as secretory cells. Sometimes these protrude from the surface of the plant. The process of essential oil creation is complex, and involves many enzymes within the plant, because each one of a hundred or more chemicals needs to be "manufactured".
Why they are so complex is not clear, but many of the single chemicals they contain are used as odorous communication signals, either between insects (which can also produce the same chemicals) or between plants and insects. Seen in the context of evolution, essential oils are a means of communication – they carry meaning.
Both the quantity and the composition (mix of ingredients) of an essential oil are constantly changing within the plant – with time of day, time of year, maturity of plant, weather, and many other factors. Consequently there are optimum seasons, and times of day, to harvest a plant for its essential oil.
Harvesting is either done either by hand, or mechanically, with a mobile device similar to a small grain harvester. Some plants, such as rose flowers, can only be picked by hand, but low-growing herbs such as lavender are usually cut mechanically. The oil extraction process is often carried out on the same day as harvesting, to minimise essential oil loss through evaporation, though this is not important with hard materials such as seeds, roots and woods.
Extraction may be done by cold pressing (citrus fruit oils), steam or water distillation, or by use of a solvent. There is currently much interest in CO² extraction, a process that captures more of the plant's fragrant molecules than distillation. Other solvent-extracted products, such as concretes, absolutes, resinoids and attars can also be made. Hydrosols, the waters from distillation, are also becoming increasingly popular as natural ingredients in their own right. Both hydrosols and essential oils have been used for their fragrance and medicinal properties since the invention of distillation 1,000 years ago.
Following extraction, an essential oil is stored and transported in metal drums, and is often exported. It may then be blended with other oils and fragrant materials to make a flavour or fragrance, compounded into a medicine, or sold in its own right for aromatherapy.
Essential oils very slowly degrade, as do all plant-derived materials, and as this progresses they lose their fresh fragrance, and also their therapeutic potency. For this reason, they should always be used when reasonably fresh – certainly within one year of opening the bottle. Essential oils will keep fresh for longer if kept cold – either a refrigerator or freezer is fine for storing oils.
Once applied to the body, whether by inhalation, application to the skin or other means, an essential oil enters the bloodstream. The essential oil is metabolised – chemically changed – quite rapidly, but during this period a multitude of therapeutic effects are possible. Some of these are due to constituents before they are metabolised, and some are due to metabolites – new chemicals formed in the body. The essential oil constituents often work synergistically, though they don't always do so. They act in a variety of ways, such as interacting with receptor sites on the surface of cells. Menthol, in peppermint oil, for example, lowers blood pressure marginally by altering the way calcium is exchanged at the surface of blood vessel cells.
Another way in which essential oils operate is by interacting with the cells of the 'olfactory epithelium' – a membrane inside and at the very top of the nose – after inhalation. The interaction of fragrant molecules and olfactory membrane initiates a nerve signal that may quickly trigger various parts of the brain, invoking a memory, a feeling, or simply the perception of a fragrance.
As metabolism progresses, it makes less and less sense to talk about the essential oil as a single substance, since each of its constituents is metabolised and excreted separately. With the help of human enzymes, the constituents are chemically changed to make sure they do not cause any toxicity, and also to make them more water-soluble. The bulk of the constituents are excreted in the urine. They then enter the waste water system, where they readily biodegrade.
Essential Oil Frequently Asked Questions
Are Tisserand Aromatherapy essential oils organic? Tisserand essential oils are either organic, wild crafted or ethically harvested:
Organic Tisserand Aromatherapy Essential Oils Certified organic essential oils are derived from plants that have been grown without the use of man-made fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides - instead using ecosystem management methods to maintain the health of both plant and soil. There are no inputs such as genetic modification or irradiation. The benefits of organic agriculture include no pollution of the local air or groundwater and no toxic chemicals in the plant or its essential oil, meanwhile maintaining the viability of the local environment. International standards are set by IFOAM (the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), which also accredits many certifying bodies, for example the Soil Association or French Ecocert.
Wild Crafted Tisserand Aromatherapy Essential Oils Wild crafted essential oils are derived from plants that are not cultivated, but are gathered from their natural, wild habitat. Although they are not organic, they will not have been contaminated by synthetic chemicals (pesticides, fertilisers etc) and will be growing in conditions favourable to the health of the plant. When wild crafting is done sustainably, a plan for harvesting must show that the harvest will sustain the wild crop.
Ethically Harvested Tisserand Aromatherapy Essential Oils This denotes sustainable cultivation. An ethically harvested essential oil is derived from a herb, shrub or tree that is not harvested so aggressively that the species becomes depleted. As far as aromatic plants are concerned, species depletion is only rarely a problem with herbs (which are mostly easy to grow in quantity) but tends to be more of an issue with slow-growing trees.
Can pure essential oils be used neat on the skin? Essential oils should not be used neat on the skin, as they are highly concentrated and could potentially cause a negative skin reaction. Essential oils should either be diluted into a base oil, lotion or cream.
How can I use essential oils in massage? There is nothing quite like a massage to make you feel soothed or energised. However, as pure essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin, they need to be diluted first. To create a body massage blend, add up to 5 drops of essential oil to 10mls of blending oil or lotion. For a facial massage blend, add no more than 2 drops of essential oil per 10mls.
How can I use essential oils in the bath? Bathing with essential oils is one of the easiest and most enjoyable forms of therapy. Just before getting into a full bath, add 3-5 drops of essential oil (or blend of oils) and agitate the water to disperse fully. For a luxury version, thoroughly mix the essential oil (or blend) with a cup of full fat milk and/or vegetable oil before adding it to the bath water; in this instance you can use up to 10 drops of essential oil.
How can I use essential oils via inhalation? Some essential oils, such as Eucalyptus, are ideal for inhalation. Add 3-5 drops of essential oil to a bowl of very hot (not boiling) water and inhale the vapour for 5-10 minutes; the effect will be maximised by placing a towel over the head. If you are out and about, simply add 1-2 drops of essential oil to a tissue and inhale.
How can I use essential oils to fragrance a room? The evaporative properties of essential oils make them ideal for use in a vaporiser. To create the ambience of your choice, simply add 6-12 drops of essential oil to your favourite vaporiser - perfect for the home or workplace.
Can I use essential oils on young children? For children under 6 years old, no more than 2 drops of essential oil per 10mls of vegetable oil should be used, and no more than 2 drops of essential oil should be added to their bath or vaporiser. However, if your child is under 2 years old, essential oils should be used with caution; we would advise that you seek the advice of a doctor or suitable practitioner.
What is the shelf life of essential oils? Essential oils should ideally be used within one year of opening. The best way to maximise the life of your oils is to keep them in a cool dark place, such as the fridge. If the oil is exposed to heat, air or light, the shelf life will greatly diminish.
When shouldn't essential oils be used? If you have a skin condition, are pregnant, have epilepsy or asthma, are on a course of treatment with prescribed medication, or are in doubt about any condition you may have, it is important that you seek the advice of a doctor or suitable practitioner before using essential oils.