There are many people in the essential oil community,
both professionals and laymen who have this thing that they say, this rumor that they spread where they claim that
essential oils are the life blood of plants.
That they do for plants what blood does for humans!
Sometimes people will interweave "life force" in
with "life blood" as well.
These are people from all spectrums of the community: aromatherapists, sales representatives, wellness advocates and people with an array of other certifications who use
essential oils in their practices.
And then there are people within the community like me,
who love debunking myths of this nature!
Out of a healthy respect, not only for the essential oils themselves but for our community and the way in which we,
as professionals represent it.
I feel that most of the time this information has been passed from mouth to ear, never researched and then passed on
again as truth and fact.
I find it disrespectful to the integrity of essential oils to
hear false information being spread as a tool for
promotion of their use or sale.
It is my belief that they are beautiful and powerful enough in and of themselves that they do not need myth or misinformation to beef up their credentials.
I do not believe that science is needed to explain everything
or that only things proven by science are what we should believe in. That said… science quite literally draws a clear and simple picture for us in terms of what essential oils are to the plants that they derive from and in doing so, debunks this myth!
There is a sort of romanticism involved in all of
nature and plant life. This includes essential oils,
especially when you experience for yourself the powerful effect they can have on wellness, particularly in the areas of
emotional and spiritual wellness!
Setting romanticism aside, we cannot allow for strictly inaccurate information about essential oils to continue to be passed on!
I am all about the woo!
Energetics, all things metaphysical and the very fine and blurred line where science meets magick. Oh yeah, I am on board, but….
Let’s be real when it comes to the myth about
essential oils being the life blood of their plants or that they
are to the plants like blood is to humans.
Whether the misinformation is being passed on by people who know that it is untrue OR it is being passed on by people who are simply uneducated in the terminology. Either way, I am here to debunk this myth!
Let's talk biology, shall we?
Essential oils are not to plants as our blood is to us,
and they do not have the same FUNCTION in a plant
that blood has in the human body.
The primary function of blood is to circulate and transport oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells, tissues and organs of the body.
With blood flowing, our bodies also move unwanted chemicals
and carbon dioxide to parts of the body where they can be expelled. This is all part of our circulatory system.
Essential oils do not circulate oxygen the way that blood does,
or anything for that matter, throughout the body of the plant.
There are transport systems which carry water and minerals up from the roots to the leaves and food down from the leaves to the roots and back around as needed. These two systems are called xylem, which transports water and phloem which transports food materials. Neither one of these systems which are similar to human blood vessels, transports or circulates essential oils or oxygen. Nor do they assist the essential oils themselves in circulating oxygen.
Photosynthesis enables the stomata on the underside of plant leaves to take in carbon dioxide where it is then changed in the plant from carbon dioxide into oxygen and is then dispelled back into the environment through the stomata.
Not only do essential oils have nothing to do
with the transporting of oxygen in a plant the way blood
would in a human, but through photosynthesis the oxygen in the plant is expelled. This is part of plant life respiration.
A primary metabolite, which is directly involved in normal
growth, development, and reproduction of plant life.
THIS plant function is similar to the importance of, if not actually the function of the blood in our circulatory systems in that it “moves oxygen”, but it has nothing to do with essential oils.
But what about all of the oxygen in essential oils, you ask!?
Simply put, essential oils are not oxygenating to the plants they derive from. They also are not oxygenating to humans. Just because essential oils contain oxygen, WHEN they contain oxygen, does not mean that they are oxygenating!
Essential oils are primarily made up of three elements. Hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. Oxygen being the least frequent occurring element found in the molecules that make up essential oils. There MIGHT be as many as 1 or 2 oxygen atoms for every 10-17 carbons or 18-26 hydrogens. The oxygen atoms found can be in the form of alcohol, aldehyde, acid, or ketones.
This small amount of oxygen found in essential oils is bound oxygen meaning it is bound to the molecule, it is therefore metabolized by the liver. In order for oxygen to be used by the body it has to be freed from its molecule, when the essential oil molecule does not free the oxygen atom it is metabolized and then expelled from the body as waste.
As far as nutrients are concerned because of their tie with the “blood life” myth… Essential oils do not bind to nutrients nor do not contain nutrients of their own. These two facts make it pretty darn hard for the essential oils to transport nutrients to our cells or to plants cells while still part of the plant.
Essential oils are considered secondary metabolites.
These are specialized compounds that do not aid in the growth
and development of plants but are used by the plants to survive their environment. They do this by aiding a plant in functions that include protection and species interactions,
but are not necessary for survival.
I think it is important to mention that essential oils are not the ONLY secondary metabolites in plants. Plants have many other ways that they defend themselves from predators and infection.
While still in the plant they derive from,
essential oils are constantly changing their chemical composition which helps them in their environment. The functions of essential oils in their plants are to: attract pollinators, repel insects and other animals the might damage or eat the plant.
They also act as antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial defense against outside organisms that may threaten the
survival of the plant.
While the essential oils are also used as polite communicators for other plants within their plant's species,
their primary function is that of defense mechanisms!
Essential oils, unlike blood in humans, do not circulate through the plants by means of their transport systems but rather they are found in small sacs called secretory structures throughout the plant. Depending on the plant in question theses “essential oil sacs” can be found on the surface of the plant in its glandular trichomes, or they can be found under the surface in either secretory cavities or secretory ducts.
There are also some plants that have special essential oil cells where the essential oil can be found. Cinnamon, black pepper and ginger are examples of plants with these special essential oils cells.
So.. as you can see unlike this myth would have you believe, essential oils are not like blood is for humans. They are also
not the life force of the plant. At least not in the way that some people might love for everyone to believe!
In order to give life after all, one thing must come
from the other. With this in mind,
I suppose we can say that biologically,
a plant is the life force of its essential oil as it is the plant at some point in its cycle which starts to produce the essential oil!
Most plants don’t even produce essential oils which are the smallest, most volatile molecules found in plant matter. The molecules which lend both its fragrance and taste.
So, what about the plants that don’t produce them?
This myth would imply that they do not have a life force…
It also implies that if essential oils really did function like blood does, that not all plants have this very important and powerful biological function!
Those poor plants!
Now, let’s get back to essential oils and how life force
DOES apply to them.