What is an essential oil? Typically created through the process of distillation — which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming — they are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. In fact, sometimes they are called volatile aromatic oils because of their high concentration of the aromatic compounds. (1) They also are simply called aromatherapy oils.
The inhaled aroma from these "essential" oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. A form of alternative medicine, aromatherapy is gaining momentum. It is used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function.