A herbal infusion or tea is made by pouring boiling water onto the plant. The heat of the water softens the cells releasing the constituents of the plant into the water. The parts that are water soluble and the highly volatile micro molecules of essential oils are caught in the vapour. The hot steam hits the cold lid of the container – forms droplets and falls back into the tea. These precious droplets are” hydrosol” – a name coined by Jeanne Rose back in 1990.
“Hydrosols are real aroma-therapy. You might consider them the homeopathy of aromatic therapy. Just as herbs are to homeopathy so are essential oils to hydrosols. Hydrosols represent the true synergy of herbalism and aromatherapy.” (Jeanne Rose The Aromatic News, 2003)
Up until the Middle Ages the distillation of herbs and flowers was primarily for hydrosols for therapeutic and cosmetic applications. Essential oils were extracted by oil infusions and maceration. It was much later the techniques of distillation changed to produce greater quantities of essential oils. Of course as they became more popular and commerce and trade was on the move, a tiny vial of an intense aromatic essential oil had a much greater value that a gallon of heavy water!
Mostly the hydrosols have been considered a waste product of the distillation process and discarded. Lavender, Rose and Orange Flower waters have lasted the distance. Many commercial products are synthetic, bearing no relation to the plant or any of its healing properties. Many others are essentials oils dissolved in alcohol or glycerine and added to water. However there is now a trend and recognition of the intrinsic value of a true hydrosol.
Hydrosol’s have many practical applications
Hydrosols contain all the therapeutic qualities of both the plant itself through its water-soluble properties (herbal therapy) as well as the therapeutic properties of the essential oils, which are present in the hydrosol in tiny micro-drops (essential oil therapy). They can be absorbed by the skin or through the gut or any mucus membrane.
They can be used:
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