What You Should Know
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What Are Essential Oils, CO2 Extracts & Absolutes?
Essential oils are extracted from tiny secretory structures (glands) contained within herbs, flowers, seeds, fruits, wood, resins and roots of a plant, normally by distillation or a process called expression (a form of pressing) when citrus oils are involved.
A typical essential oil is an intricate mixture of hundreds of chemical compounds, each of which has its own set of unique properties. The number of major constituents within an essential oil is relatively small in comparison with the number of minor constituents and trace elements. The trace elements may be present in such minute quantities that they can only be measured in parts per million. The total yield of essential oil from any individual plant does not often exceed 1%.
CO2 extraction is does not involve steam. It acts as a natural solvent leaving no residue.
CO2 – SELECT: uses a lower pressure resulting in an oil that is closer to the essential oil, as only the lighter more potent aromatic components are extracted. Examples: Celery, and parsley seed.
CO2 – TOTAL: uses a higher pressure which extracts more of the heavier plant constituents. The result can be thicker or waxier and more closely resembles the whole plant rather than just the essential oil fraction of the plant. Examples: Arnica, marigold (calendula) and St. John’s wort.
Absolutes are often put under the same category as essential oils, but they are technically different. They are extracted using a solvent, which gives a greater yield, but less potency than oils produced from distillation. Absolutes include both the volatile and non-volatile substances (including plant pigments that give absolutes a richer colour).
Solvent extraction is often used for expensive oils such as rose absolute, since the yield is higher, whereas rose otto (distilled) will command a much higher price. Delicate plants such as jasmine and linden blossom, are extracted via this method (or CO2 ) where the heat of distillation would be too harsh.
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Potency of Remedies
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All Species Do’s & Don’ts
Always allow an animal to walk away from any application or remedy
Take care around the genital area – avoid essential oil irritants
Understand the extracts you are working with. Read up on how the remedy relates to the species that you are working with
Equines / other herbivores – hold the bottle firmly so that the hand covers most of the bottle, to prevent it from being snatched from your hand and into their mouth
Equines / other herbivores – do not use a nose bag for inhalation purposes
Equine / other herbivores – caution bottles on ledges in the stable; the horse may put one in their mouth. They also may easily be forgotten or fall and break
Cats and dogs – do not use a vaporiser / diffuser unless your cat or dog can walk away from the aroma into another room
Make sure undiluted oil does not touch the nostrils while offering an essential oil bottle. Especially essential oil irritants.
Avoid vegetable and infused oils with animals who have, or are prone to pancreatitis. Avoid or reduce with overweight animals and those with fatty lumps. If in doubt consult your vet
Avoid applying essential oils directly to stitches – as they could dissolve
Dilute in aloe vera gel if applying to the skin – especially with antibacterial and citrus oils
Make sure that the oil is not phototoxic before applying it topically in sunlight – other than when photoreactive properties are needed
Adding extracts to food will interfere with their self-medicative process. In most cases allow an animal to select extracts individually
Purines – (which can be found in spirulina) may be detrimental to Dalmatians
Keep all remedies out of reach of children
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Interactions Between Plant Extracts and Medications
St John’s wort can make drugs less potent for humans, since it increases detoxification enzymes. If a person is taking antidepressants, St John’s wort may increase their sedative effect. Grapefruit (for humans) and possibly bergamot can potentise certain drugs and chemicals by binding with detoxification receptors preventing their breakdown, and excretion from the body. However, as animals can have very different enzymatic profiles from humans, it is not known if the effects are the same for animals. As a general rule, consult your vet, and offer remedies 30-40 minutes after the conventional medication has taken effect.
As the placental barrier allows most constituents to enter, anything that enters the bloodstream of the mother usually enters the foetus as well. However, applying the practice of self-selection the mother will select remedies that will provide the best outcome for her offspring. If you are pregnant and offering the oils – use the guide that if you don’t like the aroma of a plant extract, avoid being in contact with it and ask someone else to offer it.
Thin, Emaciated and Fast Metabolisms
Most plant secondary metabolites are lipophilic (fat soluble) and so will be readily absorbed by fatty adipose tissue. Therefore it is important to be aware of this when applying essential oils to very thin, emaciated animals as well as those with a fast metabolism, since the level of plant compounds in the blood would become more concentrated. The rate of absorption is slowed down by fatty or muscle tissue.
Never force a plant extract on any animal, either by inhalation, topically or orally – it will offer no benefit; instead the animal will be a cost to your and your animal since they will have to work to rid themselves of any unwanted plant chemicals
Avoid The Eyes
Avoid using any essential oils near the eyes. Also, take extra care if working around the jaw / face, especially with remedies such as peppermint.
Aromatic waters such as elderflower water, or cornflower water. are safe around the eyes.
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If an essential oil touches the eye, wipe it immediately with cotton wool coated in vegetable oil. This allows the lipid soluble essential oil to absorb into the fatty liquid. Water will exacerbate the problem, intensifying the essential oils’ irritating effects. If concerned seek medical help.
Signs of Irritation
Redness or nibbling on the area. If you are concerned that an oil may cause irritation, dust the area with powdered dry green clay.
This could happen when too much undiluted essential oil (those that are dermal irritants)is applied to healthy skin, such as over the femoral artery. Irritation can also occur if dermal irritants such as the antibacterial and citrus oils, even though needed, are applied undiluted frequently over several days.
Make up a paste using green clay and water to form a consistency that just coats the back of a spoon. Apply to the irritated area.
Any heat / redness should clear almost immediately. Repeat as necessary. It is not usually washed off. If the paste is too thick it will not be effective.
If you are concerned that an ingested toxin or medicine has caused stomach pain. Offer clay in the ratio of one third clay to two thirds water, also offer dry.
If you are concerned that your dog has taken too much vegetable oil or infused oil. Offer cinnamon leaf and grapefruit essential oil. Consult your vet.
If an essential oil inadvertently touches a cats nose/coat, prevent them from licking it.
Wipe immediately with dry powdered clay as your first choice. If you don’t have clay or chalk powder, wipe off using cotton wool coated with vegetable oil. This allows the lipid soluble essential oil to absorb into the fatty oil. Water does not effectively mop it up and may cause the oil to touch the skin and pass through the dermal layers. It is good practice to offer the essential oil bottle, held in such a way that your fingers act as a barrier to protect the cat from direct contact with the bottle.
If A Cat Drools / Froths At The Mouth
After inhaling an essential oil – there are two possible reasons why a cat would froth at the mouth after self-administering an essential oil. Firstly, when cats experience great pleasure they may froth at the mouth. Secondly, if the cat has taken something noxious. If the frothing or over-salivation is prolonged (20 minutes or more) contact your veterinary surgeon for advice.
My horse selected 50g barley grass and 50g of liquorice root powder. Which offered more potency based on the quantity taken?
a. Barley grass
b. Liquorice root
c. They were much the same
Can I use applied zoopharmacognosy if my dog is prone to pancreatitis?
c. Yes, but avoid or apply caution with vegetable oils and infused oils, or consult your vet
My German Chamomile is greenish-blue, should I be concerned?
a. Its fine because it comes in different shades of blue-green
b. Yes, it should be a deep inky blue
I have a cat and a drop of essential oil fell onto his fur. What shall I do?
a. Leave it to dry naturally
b. Wipe off vigoursly with water
c. Prevent him from licking the oil and sprinkle green clay onto the area
How should I hold the essential oil bottle when offering it to my horse?
a. Between my finger and thumb
b. I don’t have to hold it, I can rest it on a ledge
c. Firmly so that my horse cannot snatch it from my hand