|Profile For Peach Kernel Oil|
Latin name: Prunus persica. Aroma: Peach kernel is essentially odourless. Colour: A slightly paler yellow than sweet almond.
Method of extraction: The oil is obtained by cold pressing of the kernels. (The best quality oil is obtained by cold pressing).
About the plant and its environment: The peach tree is a small deciduous tree growing to a maximum height of only about 8 metres (25 feet) with its origins in China. It was Alexander the Great who brought news of the peach from Persia, and by the first century AD peaches were being enjoyed by the Romans, who brought the peach to Europe. California and Texas are now the world's major producers even though the tree grows well, sometimes for centuries, in an alkaline soil with plenty of sun.
About the oil: Chemically and physically peach kernel oil is similar to apricot kernel and sweet almond oils, but it is more expensive than sweet almond, possibly because it is not produced in such large quantities and is mostly cold pressed. Persic oil is expressed from the seeds of P. persica and P. armeniaca (apricot) and is largely used in the manufacture of toilet preparations and as a substitute for almond oil.
Therapeutic properties (internal use): As with both sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil, peach kernel oil is said to be effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Therapeutic properties (external use):
- skin protection (emollient, nourishing and it is slowly absorbed).
- relieves itching.
Peach kernel oil is suitable for sensitive, dry and ageing skins and makes a good facial massage oil.
Folk-lore and traditional plant uses: The plant - bark, leaves, expressed oil - has been used for its sedative, diuretic and expectorant properties. It has been used in coughs, whooping cough and chronic bronchitis and also for irritation and congestion of the gastric surfaces.
Carrier Oils General Information
Essential oils are concentrated and powerful and most cannot be used directly on the skin or they will cause irritation. Because of there concentration they need to be diluted in what are called 'carriers'. Most carrier oils are simply used for lubrication, but a few have therapeutic properties of their own, which can be chosen to complement those of the essential oils used with them. For example, peach kernel, apricot kernel and particularly avocado oil are all rich and nourishing and help dry and ageing skins. Wheatgerm oil (rich in Vitamin E) is used to reduce scar tissue after injury or operations and also facial scarring caused by severe acne. Wheatgerm is also a natural antioxidant which helps to prevent other oils from becoming rancid (i.e. oxidising). Small amounts (up to 10%) will improve the keeping ability of any other oil by two or three months.
Cold Pressed Oils - Cold pressed vegetable oils are the best and are generally superiour oils. In the cold pressing process, excessive heat is avoided in order to minimise changes to the natural characteristics of the oil.
Traditionally, there are two methods of cold pressing. In one, the raw material (seeds, nuts or kernels) is simply pressed with a hydraulic press and the oil is squeezed out. This process is only used for soft oily seeds and plant material such as olive, sesame and sunflower etc.
Harder seeds, such as safflower, require more force and a large, powerful screw device known as an expeller is used to crush the plant material, which may be passed through the expeller more than once. The crushed shells, etc are removed from the oil by a succession of filters, the last of which is made of paper. The oil obtained is usually clear (avocado is an exception as it is usually cloudy, especially in cold conditions) and has its taste and nutritional properties intact.
Macerated Oils - Macerated oils have additional properties to all the vegetable oils described because of the way they are produced. Particular parts of certain plants are chopped up and added to a selected carrier oil (usually sunflower or olive) and the mix is agitated gently for some time before placing in strong sunlight for several days. All of the oil-soluble compounds present in the plant material (including the essential oil chemicals) are transferred to the carrier oil, which consequently contains extra therapeutic properties. The macerated mixture is then filtered carefully to remove all the added plant material.
Organic Vegetable Oils - Strictly speaking, organic oils can only be produced from organically grown plant material using approved processes. The rules for organic processing generally exclude the use of chemicals, and a truly organic fixed oil is obtained only from plants which are both organically grown and organically processed.
Vegetable Oils - Vegetable oils constitute the bulk of the mix used to perform an aromatherapy massage. There function is to carry or act as a vehicle for administering the essential oils to the body, hence the term carrier oil. They also act as a lubricant, making it possible to carry out massage movements. All carrier oils are emollient, to a greater or lesser degree.
Basic Vegetable Oils - Sweet almond, apricot kernel, grapeseed, peach kernel and sunflower are among the most common carrier oils, and can be used with or without essential oils for a straightfoward body massage. They are generally pale in colour, not too thick and have very little smell.
Special Vegetable Oils - Certain vegetable oils tend to be more viscous and heavier than basic ones, and can be rather expensive. These include avocado, olive, sesame, rose hip and wheatgerm. The really rich oils such as avocado and wheatgerm are seldom, if ever used on their own. It is more usual to add 10-25% of these two to 75-90% of a basic carrier oil.
Massage Carrier Oils
For massage with essential oils use a carrier oil made specifically for that use. These are all extracted by cold-pressing, ie they are put under high pressure in their natural, raw state when first harvested to squeeze out the oil, and neither heat nor steam is used in the process. This retains the nutrients in the oils ( the proteins, minerals, vitamins, etc) that allow them to be readily absorbed by the skin. Virtually any vegetable oil can be used as a carrier, but anything other than a specific massage carrier will have several drawbacks. All will be too heavy to be easily absorbed by the skin, and most are not cold-pressed and will often contain additives, flavorings or colouring. Ordinary vegetable oils have little or no therapeutic value in themselves, whereas massage carriers will have their own benefits. Baby oils and other mineral oils are not suitable for aromatherapy massage as they are specifically made to lie on the surface of the skin and will not be absorbed.
There are several different massage carrier oils produced, but we have detailed here the most often used carrier oils:
- Sweet Almond
- Peach Kernel
- Evening Primrose
Carrier Oils Storage Information
All oils, essential and carrier, have a limited 'shelf life' and over time will degenerate by oxidisation and become rancid. Adding Wheatgerm to any blend will extend its life, and a blend with essential oils will keep for longer than the carrier alone. The best method is to mix only as much as you will use for one treatment.