Essential oils

An Essential Oil is a liquid, concentrated and complex extract, obtained by steam distillation of aromatic plants or parts of this plant (flower, leaf, wood, root, bark, fruit, etc.) . An Essential Oil is therefore the distilled essence of the aromatic plant . It is composed of a hundred terpenic and aromatic molecules that are particularly active and original for daily health.

Among the 800,000 plant species, aromatic plants capable of synthesizing an essence are few. Only 10% of the plant kingdom has the possibility, but these aromatic plants show a significant degree of sophistication.

High-performance chemical analysis tools (chromatography, mass spectroscopy, etc.) make it possible to identify the molecular compositions of essential oils.

The history and origin of essential oils

Recognized for their powerful therapeutic properties and used for millennia, essential oils fell into oblivion in the Middle Ages. It will be necessary to wait for the arrival of the Arabs to witness a new boom in herbal medicine , which then finds a place of choice in the therapeutic arsenal of the time.

The extraction of essential oils by steam distillation was born at the time of the industrial revolution and allowed the development of food products and perfumes. At the beginning of the 20th century, researchers (Chamberland, Cadéac, Martindale) demonstrated through their experiments the antiseptic power of essential oils. The true "fathers" of aromatherapy are Gattefossé then Valnet and his disciples. RMGattefossé, pioneer of modern perfumery, burns his hands during an explosion in his laboratory. He then has the reflex to plunge his hands into a container filled with essential oil of lavender. Instantly relieved, his wound healed with disconcerting rapidity. Surprised by this result, he decided to study essential oils and their properties. Modern aromatherapy was born. Today, doctors (Valnet, Duraffourd, Lapraz, d'Hervincourt, Belaiche), high-level researchers (P. Franchomme) and pharmacists (Dominique Baudoux) have definitively established the reputation, the efficiency and the extraordinary wealth of Essential Oils.

How to extract an Essential Oil?

Many processes are used for the extraction of aromatic substances. This operation is one of the most difficult and delicate since its purpose is to capture the most subtle and fragile products produced by plants, without altering their quality. Essential oils are the essence of the plant .

More “ethereal” than material products for certain flowers but products intimately linked to matter and not directly diffusible, essential oils are complex and diverse substances, requiring special care to obtain them.

Essential oils - distillation

  1. Tank filled with aromatic plants;
  2. Distillation tank;
  3. essentiate

The dosage of essential oils

Essential oils offer a maximum of possibilities and effectiveness for a minimum of toxicity at the prescribed doses.

These doses, the result of a long experience as a researcher, will seem derisory in the eyes of some. Indeed 2 to 3 drops represent little in the eyes of some except when it comes to essential oils endowed with an impressive reactive power.

It is therefore important to scrupulously respect the prescribed doses . An excess would not bring anything more on the therapeutic level but could, on the contrary, cause undesirable effects.

The different galenics

Combining several essential oils , or accompanying them with a Vegetable Oil , makes it possible to develop their properties through their complementarity. In this way, we obtain a synergy which will reinforce the modes of action of the oils. The field of possibilities is endless and the Pranarōm laboratory is constantly developing new products in different galenic forms: solutions, capsules, gels, creams, oily lotions, ovules, suppositories, etc.

Formulated by our scientific experts, these products represent real intelligent and innovative alternatives in all areas of health, suitable for the whole family. Ready to use, they are safe and convenient to use in complete safety.

How to recognize a quality essential oil?

A quality essential oil is

  • 100% natural: not denatured with synthetic molecules, chemical emulsifiers or mineral oils;

  • 100% pure: free of other related essential oils, vegetable oils, alcohol, turpentine;

  • 100% integral: not amputated, not bleached, not deterpenated, not rectified, not over-oxidized, not peroxidized.

The Essential Oils used in scientific aromatherapy meet strict quality criteria:

Certified botanical species

Essential Oils must imperatively come from botanically certified plants , that is to say identified by two Latin names, Latin being the language universally recognized in botany.

  • The first name designates the genus (ex: Cinnamomum );
  • The second designates the species (ex: camphora ) - example: Cinnamomum camphora - Ravintsara;
  • Nature of the product : essential oil;
  • BIO means “from organic farming” (Certisys-BE-01 Control);
  • Latin name: scientific botanical name and, if applicable, the chemotype (CT);
  • CT = chemotyped essential oil , i.e. botanically and chemically defined;
  • Common name ;
  • Distilled organ.

Part of the plant distilled

Different parts of the same plant (flower, leaf, stem, bark, root, etc.) can produce different essences. It is therefore equally important to specify the plant organ .

Neroli Essential Oil comes from the distillation of the bitter orange flower (bitter orange) while the bitter orange petitgrain essential oil comes from the distillation of the leaf of the same tree.


Depending on the biotope (sunshine, climate, soil composition, altitude, etc.), the same plant can secrete biochemically very different essences. These variations in the biochemical composition of essential oils give rise to the notion of chemotype (CT). Two chemotypes of the same essential oil will exhibit not only different activities but also highly variable toxicities.


  • Thymus vulgaris CT thujanol : Very safe to use, well tolerated by the skin;
  • Thymus vulgaris CT thymol : Dermocaustic and hepatotoxic at high and prolonged doses.

The chemotype is the identity card of an essential oil. Pranarôm recommends the use of ChemoTyped Essential Oils.

The lack of knowledge of this distinction between various chemotypes and the lack of precision in the identification of certain essential oils leave the door open to incidents related to their toxicity and to therapeutic failures.

HECT essential oils from aromatic plants are products with a very high concentration of well-diversified active ingredients; they do not have quite the same indications as the whole plants from which they come. They should be applied with care, never exceeding the prescribed dose . A HECT essential oil contains, on average, 75 different active molecules, while in the synthetic drug, we can only assess the interactions of three molecules at best. We are talking about the global action of an HECT essential oil on the whole body and its physiology. Aromatherapy is therefore holistic but effective.

Geographical origin

The name of the country or region provides interesting details on the biotope (environment) of the aromatic plant and will characterize its particular biochemical composition.

The method of cultivation

This precision will tell you if the plant is wild or cultivated and comes from organic farming (organic label) or not.

The stage of botanical development

The characteristics of the chemotypes sometimes depend on the stage of development: picking before, during or after flowering…

Extraction method

The composition of essential oils can vary according to the mode of extraction used: distillation, hydro-distillation, percolation, expression.

Control the quality of Essential Oils

Many essential oils sold as 100% pure and natural are often cut, lengthened, diluted and denatured with vegetable or mineral oils, low cost synthetic molecules, chemical emulsifying agents, turpentine, alcohol. These profound alterations are likely to make essential oils allergenic and toxic. The only way to provide essential oils of impeccable quality is to control the quality in the laboratory .