Monday, July 14, 2008

Cooking with Essential Oils

Use Herbals essential Oils for Cooking;
A renaissance in the arena of food preparation is about to emerge: the exciting and innovative art of combining essential oils with food.

The art of distilling essential oils from plants began 6,000 years ago with the ancient Egyptians. If you're not familiar with essential oils and their benefits, read on!

More potent than herbs

Essential oils are the chemical constituents found in aromatic plants (plants are chemical factories) that exist to protect the plant from invading organisms and microbes, to help it heal from wounds, to carry nutrients to the plant cells (as the blood of humans does) and to attract certain insects and repel others. When plants are distilled (or coldpressed, such as citrus oils), the resulting essential oils are far more potent than when they are dried as herbs.

Many physicians, especially in France, are treating patients with essential oils and getting excellent results without the side effects of orthodox medicine. One such doctor and author is Daniel Penoel, M.D. Dr. Penoel also recommends using therapeutic-grade essential oils in food preparations as they purify the body, enhance the immune system and generate endorphins (mood-elevators). In the United States, Dr. Phillip Minton claims that eating pure essential oils can improve circulation and oxygenation and protect against heart disease, dementia and cancer. And they taste fantastic!

Essential oils can come from many different parts of the plant: flowers, blossoms, fruit (skins), seeds, stems, leaves, roots and bark. Their tastes encompass tangy (lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, mandarin, lime), spicy (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cumin), floral (geranium, rose, lavender), herbaceous (oregano, basil, dill, rosemary, sage, tarragon, savory), and mint (peppermint, spearmint), to name just a few. Because they are so concentrated, only tiny amounts (a drop or two) are required.

Unlike fatty oils, such as olive, flax, sesame, avocado and soybean oils, essential oils contain no glycerol molecules that give a characteristic slippery texture and leave a greasy residue. Distilled essential oils contain no fat, whereas fatty oils are 100 percent fat. Essential oils are composed of hundreds of different molecules that are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and immune stimulating.

Safe to consume

Since this is such a new field, many readers may be wondering whether ingesting essential oils is safe. Some oils have toxic components; for example, nutmeg oil contains myristicin and elemicin, which are psychotropic. However, when taken in moderate amounts (a few drops per person), there is no toxic effect. In fact, the LD5O (lethal dose for half the population) for an average adult would be 1 100mL. of nutmeg oil. In addition, nutmeg oil is safer than whole nutmeg because the most toxic components in nutmeg are non-volatile. In the process of distillation, most of these components evaporate.

Although there have been cases of narcosis and collapse with just one whole nutmeg, people universally use nutmeg as a food seasoning. Other oils contain toxic compounds (e.g., parsley, cinnamon, clove, basil, anise, fennel and tarragon oils) but are safe when used in moderation. Even commonly used cooking ingredients such as table salt hold potential for harm when administered in high dosages. However, it would be an overreaction to say that salt should not be used in food.

Can these toxic compounds accumulate in the body? The majority of oil molecules are terpines and terpenoids that are multiples of five carbon fragments. Since the body can only use food that can be broken down into two-carbon fragments, oils must be excreted by the body. Since essential oils are not water-soluble, they are made water-soluble by various enzymes found in the liver. From there, they are excreted by the kidney via urine. However, if an essential oil component is introduced to the body at a faster rate than the liver can convert it into a water-soluble form, liver toxicity can result. This could happen even if the mode of entry was not ingestion. (There have been reported cases of serious liver damage resulting from excessive skin application of eucalyptus oil.) Again, moderation is the key.

Usage tips

Some oils can be irritating if used directly on mucous membranes (cinnamon, lemongrass) but will pose no problem when mixed evenly with food.

Using cheap, adulterated oils is not recommended. I cannot overstress the importance of procuring only the highest-grade essential oil with no toxic, synthetic chemicals, SD-40 alcohol, and propylene glycol (carcinogenic). How can you be sure? Contact the company and ask for a GCMS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) analysis. Avoid oils extracted with carbon dioxide, solvents or fabricated in a lab ("nature identical" oils). If possible, oils should be organic (especially citrus oils because of pesticide spraying) and distilled at low temperatures with low pressure so that the oil is not fractured or burned. This ensures that all the chemical constituents are extracted, giving a full-bodied, authentic taste.

by Menkit Prince

Thank natural to make herbals for good life!