The popularity of Essential Oils has grown massively in recent years. But what is all the hype about? In an effort to bring us a beginners guide to Essential Oils and their key benefits, I spoke with Benoit Nicol, owner of award winning Irish company ‘The Nature of Things’.
Benoit is a native of Brittany in France who has had a long love affair with Ireland. His hometown was twinned with Mallow, Co. Cork when he was a teenager and he then went on to study in UCC and marry an Irish girl! After 20 years working for distillers and fragrance companies in the US, he followed his heart back to Ireland. Benoit had always wanted to start his own business and decided that it was time to take the plunge. Over the last few years Benoit has developed a significant following, sourcing from the highest quality distillers and selling through a network of well known retailers such as Kilkenny Shop, as well as online at www.thenatureofthings.ie
Here’s what he had to say about these little pots of gold!:
Where do Essential Oils come from?
Essential oils are extracted or rather distilled from plants. Many plants develop certain ‘aromatic’ molecules to attract pollinators or repel certain insects. These molecules/oils can be extracted from various different parts of the plant depending on the species: flowers, bark, seed, fruit, gum, leaves etc. For centuries they have been used in food preparation and healing.
How do you source your Essential Oils?
We source our oils from producers and distillers all around the world. The majority come from tropical, Mediterranean climates. Different plants are native to different regions and so we must work with a range of different producers in order to source our diverse, high quality range of products. We source Atlas Cedar from Morocco, Eucalyptus from Spain, Frankincense from Somaliland, Geranium from Egypt, Ginger and Ylang Ylang from Madagascar, Lavender and Clary Sage from France, Lemon and Orange from Italy, Peppermint from India, Rosemary from Tunisia, Tea Tree from Australia and Vetiver from Haiti. We only work with businesses that have a proven record of distilling top quality oils using sustainable practices.
What are Essential Oils used for?
There are five main uses for Essential Oils:
- Fragrance – Oils are diluted and used to create perfumes and fragrances.
- Personal Care – Oils are used in the production of a number of personal care and skincare products.
- Remedies – Oils are used very effectively in a number of different health remedies.
- Homecare – Certain oils can be used to create household cleaning products.
- Emotional Benefits – Oils are now commonly used in home diffusers. There is significant research that certain smells trigger certain emotional reactions. They can therefore be used for a number of benefits for the mind: to calm, stimulate, support sleep, help focus etc.
What are the best known Essential Oils and what are they used for?
Some of the most popular oils that we carry include:
Lavender – Lavender is a very versatile oil. It has a beautiful scent and is commonly used in fragrances. In a home diffuser it is very useful for helping to calm and fight insomnia. Finally it can be used very successfully to heal burns.
Tea Tree – Tea Tree is most commonly used as a health oil. It can be used to fight acne, head lice and oily skin. It has great anti-bacterial properties and is therefore also used in household products. From a diffusion perspective, it has very uplifting properties.
Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus is a great oil for morning diffusion as it lifts awareness with a clean, fresh scent. Medicinally it can be used to clear the respiratory system and is great to help combat colds.
Bergamot – Bergamot has a beautiful scent and is a very commonly used by perfume companies. Again it is a very uplifting oil and can help to combat anxiety.
Patchouli – Patchouli is a very popular oil right now because it is used to help reduce stress and anxiety with its earthly properties and scent.
Frankincense – Traditionally Frankincense was used in religious ceremonies and rituals. It is a calming, centering oil and can be very effective to use when meditating. It is also used in fragrances and dental hygiene products.
Rosemary – Similar to Eucalyptus, Rosemary is a great morning oil as it increases awareness. It helps to focus the mind and increase energy and therefore is a good oil to use in preparing for exams etc. Rosemary is also a great antioxidant and is therefore commonly used in food preservation.
Sandalwood – Sandalwood has a very warm scent and is commonly used in fragrances. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it great for use in certain personal care products, massage oil etc. With regard to diffusion, it is useful for relaxation and calm.
How do I know which Essential Oil is right for me?
Normally people would be drawn to different oils via scent. Because you cannot do that at the moment, the best thing to do is to look at the key properties and benefits of different oils and go from there.
Are there certain blends of oils that work well together?
There are definitely certain oils that work well together but it is all about experimentation and finding which blends work best for you. Bergamot is a very versatile oil and can be used to help create many great blends. If you want to create a flower type scent you could add Jasmine, Rose etc. If you want to create a fresh, awakening morning scent then Eucalyptus or Rosemary are great to use. Experiment with different oils to discover which scents work best for you and the emotive responses that they trigger.
Are there adverse side effects to Essential Oils?
Essential Oils in their natural form are highly concentrated. So yes, users should always follow the safety precautions and instructions. The vast majority of people will not encounter any issues. However some people may experience allergic reactions, skin sensitivities etc. Always follow guidance and stop using a product if you experience any adverse side effects. I would also highly recommend that oils not be ingested.
Why are Essential Oils all the rage at the moment?
Essential oils have become more popular over time due to the large shift towards sourcing natural, sustainable solutions. As more resources to learn how to use them (DIY books and blogs) have become available, people have increasingly embraced them at home.
Where can I find out more?
You can find information on each type of Essential Oil and purchase directly on our website – CLICK HERE. Obviously there is also a mountain of information available to you online on the properties of various oils etc.
Thank you so much to Benoit for his time and insights in creating this article. Benoit was an absolute joy to speak with and I certainly left the call completely converted to the benefits of Essential Oils. If you would like to follow him on social media the handle is @thenatureofthings.ie
- All views are my own or those of the contributor.
- All photographs have been sourced from The Nature of Things website.
- At the date of writing I have no paid affiliation with Benoit or his business.
- All information is correct at the date of posting only.
- I make every effort to test any recommended products personally but this is not feasible in all instances so recommendations may be based on other customer reviews.
- All posts on this website and across our social media pages are written for the purposes of supporting Irish businesses so any comments on any of our pages that contradict that message will be removed and I make no apologies for doing so!