There is a significant difference in the way flower essences, essential oils and other medicinal plant products are made as well as how they should be used safely, so understanding the terminology is quite important. To add to the confusion, medicinal plant products have similar names that are repeatedly misused by bloggers and even health researchers.
For example, when you read an article about using rosemary oil to massage your scalp, are you learning about rosemary infused oil or rosemary essential oil? I’ve seen many writers reference the shortened “rosemary oil” when they really mean rosemary essential oil, but some will also have articles about how to make your own “essential oil” which then actually gives directions for making an infused oil. At best this inconsistency in terminology is enough to make anyone researching health topics frustrated (if they realize there is indeed a difference). At worst, this nomenclature madness could cause unintended side effects and even injury. Personally it drives me a little more than crazy, given that in my previous career I dealt in information architecture and taxonomies. In a nutshell, using the wrong terms for things can cause all sorts of problems, whether in the information world or the complementary health world.
I’ve seen the essential oil/infused oil confusion going on for some time, but once I started making flower essences in addition to essential oil blends, I realized that there was an even bigger problem with that term. Many people I talked to didn’t know what a flower essence was, and because the name sounded so much like essential oil, they assumed it was the same thing. As these two products are at the complete opposite ends of a plant medicinal intensity spectrum, I realized that there was an even bigger opportunity to straighten things out. I love to try to make complex concepts simple and palatable – it’s always challenging and this was no exception since there is just no easy way to explain some of these thigs to the layperson.
So here you have it – an infographic defining and comparing plant medicine products and showing their relative physical concentration/intensity. Keep in mind that this is a simplification as a) the different extraction methods pull out different constituents, and b) the strength is also dependent on the dose. Flower essences have the least amount of plant constituents and work on a more subtle energetic level rather than chemically with the body, while at the opposite end of the spectrum are essential oils which have the highest concentration of aromatic plant constituents, and work on a very physical, chemical (as well as energetic) level on the body.
As with all medicine, the more powerful it is the more potential it has for harm and the greater the need for understanding safe usage and/or getting guidance from a professional.
What do you think? Does this help clarify what they are and their differences? What other terminology have you heard?