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Making Scents of Information
Clockwise from top: coconut, avocado and Kukui nut
Some carrier oils that are used in aromatherapy practice are more familiar than others; carrier oils such as coconut, avocado and kukui nut are perhaps more exotic than most.
Carrier oils are used in aromatherapy blends to “carry” essential oils to the body; many carrier oils contain vitamins, minerals and other components that are both absorbed by and are beneficial to the skin, in addition to dispersing essential oils throughout the body. Therefore it is important that you choose an appropriate carrier oil. Consider coconut (Cocus nucifera), avocado (Persea americana) or kukui nut (Aleurites moluccans) for a more exotic feel!
Profile of Coconut Oil
Coconuts conjure up an image of swaying palm trees and deserted beaches so this is probably one of the most familiar of the exotic oils that is used in aromatherapy practice! Coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of the coconut tree; the coconut tree is found in many tropical areas of the world and is a member of the Areceae plant family.
Coconut oil is a slight misnomer because it is not really an oil at all. The white solid fat is cold pressed from the inner flesh of the coconut; it is high in saturated fats. Fractionated coconut oil produces a clear oil but fractionated oil is not usually used in aromatherapy as it is an incomplete oil (Price, Len, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage). Coconut oil is used in aromatherapy practice as an emollient and is found in massage creams, soaps, hair products and other skin care products. Coconut oil may cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Profile of Avocado Oil
Avocado is another tropical inhabitant although today it can also be found in Mediterranean countries such as Spain. The avocado tree belongs to the Lauraceae plant family; the oil is extracted from dried avocado pears. One of the most distinct features about avocado oil that is used in aromatherapy practice is its deep green color.
Unrefined, cold pressed avocado oil is green in color although, due to difficult extraction processes, refined avocado oil is more common for cosmetic use which is pale yellow in color. However, as always, unrefined oil is the preferred oil for aromatherapy purposes as it retains the therapeutic properties of the plant. Avocado oil is used as an emollient, for skin inflammation and other skin conditions, especially for dry and damaged skin. The oil solidifies at 32 degrees Fahrenheit so it is not advisable to store it in the refrigerator.
Profile of Kukui Nut Oil
Kukui nut is found in the islands of Hawaii; the tree belongs to the Euphorbaceae plant family. Kukui nut oil is extracted from the nut of the tree and is high in essential fatty acids. Kukui nut is one of the lesser used carrier oils in aromatherapy (it is quite expensive to purchase) but it does have some therapeutic properties. Kukui nut oil is used in skin care, for eczema, psoriasis, acne, sunburn and dry skin. According to Price, it is an oil which is easily absorbed by the skin.
-Clarke, Sue, 2002, Essential Chemistry for Aromatherapy UK: Churchill Livingstone
-Price, Len, 1999, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage UK: Riverhead
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