People who are interested in using essential oils at home should be careful to purchase them from reliable sources. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the manufacture of essential plant oils. Consequently, instances of consumer fraud have been reported. In the case of essential oils, the most common form of fraud is substitution of synthetic compounds for natural essential oils, which are expensive to produce.

Another precaution is to avoid applying essential oils directly to the skin as a form of perfume. Some essential oils such as oil of orange or oil of peppermint are irritating to the skin if applied full-strength. When

Carrier—A vegetable oil such as safflower, olive, a grapeseed, or wheatgerm oil used to dilute essen- y tial oils for massage.

Enfleurage—A technique for extracting essential oils from flower petals by placing them on a layer of purified fat.

Essential oil—The product of special ducts or cells in the tissues of aromatic plants (or the sap of certain trees) that gives the plant its characteristic aroma and therapeutic properties. Essential oils are sometimes called volatile oils because they evaporate readily at room temperature.

Limbic system—A group of structures in the brain that includes the amygdala, hippocampus, olfactory bulbs, and hypothalamus. The limbic system is associated with homeostasis and the regulation and arousal of emotions.

Maceration—A technique for extracting essential oils from plant leaves and stems by crushing the plant parts and soaking them in warm vegetable oil.

Olfactory nerve—The cranial nerve that regulates the sense of smell.

essential oils are used in massage, they are always diluted in a carrier oil.

A final precaution is to avoid taking essential oils internally without a consultation with a physician or naturopathist. Possible exceptions may be peppermint oil and aloe vera.

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