Essence Therapy vs. Aromatherapy: What's the Difference?
I am often asked by clients who are new to essence therapy whether our flower essences are similar to aromatherapy essential oils. While both do harness the healing properties of plants, the truth is that flower essences and essential oils are actually quite different.
Flower, gem, and environmental essences like the ones we make at Pacific Northwest Essences are a way to support and heal the mind, body, and spirit using the vibrational energy of plants, gemstones, and other natural elements. They are energy medicines similar to homeopathic medicines. To make our flower essences, I carefully choose local wildflowers (or occasionally organic flowers we’ve grown ourselves) and infuse them in water under the sun or moon for a number of hours. Then the plants are removed and the mother tincture is strained and preserved with brandy. The resulting essences are powerful enough to have strong healing effects, but also safe enough to be used by children, adults, and even pets, as well as to be used alongside other medicines.
Our flower essence tinctures are packaged in dropper bottles. You may choose to take a flower essence directly from the dropper, dropping two to three drops at a time onto your tongue, or to dilute it in a glass of water or juice. For those who prefer not to take their essences internally, we do also offer blends in an Aura Mist form, which can be misted around the head or around your living or work space (more on this below). I recommend using essences daily, a few times a day, often for a period of a month or longer, rather than on an as-needed basis. With this healing modality, a longer-term commitment is essential to experience deep and lasting shifts.
This is the biggest difference between flower essence therapy and aromatherapy: The two modalities offer very different capacities for healing. Essential oils make for good active ingredients in professionally formulated skincare. They also can be very pleasing from an aromatic standpoint, offering an energizing or soothing effect, depending on the oils chosen.
Flower essences, meanwhile, heal on a whole different level. They are much closer to homeopathic medicines than to essential oils. Because they draw on a plant’s vibrational energy, they are capable of creating major shifts in our awareness and enabling powerful emotional healing and growth. Flower essences can help us to shed negative energies and unhealthy patterns that are holding us back, to heal from past trauma, to better attune to nature or to our own creativity, and to achieve new levels of spirituality and inner peace.
A bottle of flower essence contains the energy of the plant from which it was made, but does not actually contain any part of the plant itself, and all flower essences are safe for internal use. Essential oils, on the other hand, are made by distilling or pressing the flowers, leaves, fruit, hardwood, or bark of a plant. The resulting extract is usually diluted in a carrier oil for topical application. I do not recommend taking essential oils internally unless you are working directly with a certified medical aromatherapist. While a qualified professional may prescribe select essential oils (in minute quantities) for internal use for certain health conditions, I don’t recommend making your own prescriptions from these strong and varied substances. Instead, I recommend using essential oils either topically (a few to several drops in a bath mixed with a body oil), or in a diffuser to fill the air with a plant’s aroma. Because essential oils can be extremely potent and some can be skin irritants, I do not recommend applying your own essential oil mixes on the sensitive skin of the face, which can quickly become oversensitized, or on babies or small children. In my opinion, a diffuser is the safest way to use essential oils on your own for aromatherapy.
The way that flower essences are made also makes them an environmentally sustainable way to take advantage of a plant’s healing properties. While most essential oils are made by distillation, one of the wonderful things about essence therapy is that essences offer all the benefits of nature’s healing energy with barely any impact on nature itself. An essential oil manufacturer may need several pounds of plant material to create just one bottle of essential oil. The exact quantity will vary depending on the plant type, but it can take up to 22 pounds of rose petals, for example, to produce just 5 milliliters of rose essential oil! When creating a flower essence, on the other hand, I need only a small handful of blooms to create a strong “mother essence,” which I can then use to create hundreds of bottles of flower essences—and the customer only takes a few drops at a time from their bottle. The flowers we do use are always carefully harvested, leaving plenty of flowers behind so the plants can continue to thrive. And for especially rare plants, we avoid picking the flowers altogether, instead placing a bowl of water directly beneath the blooms and allowing the essence to infuse for a longer period of time.After experimenting with aromatherapy for years, I have found that well-selected essential oils can support the direction of essence therapy, but are in no way powerful enough to equal or replace what flower essences can do. While they do offer topical benefits, in my experience they are not capable of delivering the deeper emotional healing or the spiritual shifts that essences and homeopathy can. However, I do use essential oils to contribute an additional aromatherapy component to our Scented Aura Mists. For customers who prefer a mist format instead of taking our essences internally, we offer both Scented and Unscented Aura Mists. For the scented versions, I’ve chosen essential oils or absolutes that contribute an aroma complementary to the effects of the essence blend. So for example, our protective, strengthening Fragile Being Aura Mist is enhanced with the grounding scent of Moroccan cedar and the invigorating aroma of eucalyptus. These aromatic components are meant to support and enhance the mist’s effects, but it’s the blend of flower and gem essences that give the blend its deeper healing properties.