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Chemistry of EO's: A Quick Glance

A quick look into chemistry of eo’s: Essential oil’ are made of many organic molecules made of hydrogen. They have chemical families such as monoterpenes, monoterpenols, sesquiterpenes, sesquiterpenols, oxides, aldehydes, esters, ethers, ketones, and phenols. There can be one or more chemical families within each oil. Within each family, there are chemical constituents.

What makes each essential oil unique is the constituents. When I am choosing a blend, I document the constituent percentages over, say, 5% of each oil for my records but it is the constituents in whole that make the fragrance and creates therapeutic action of each oil. Some constituents are b-myrcene, a-pinene, b-pinene, camphor, camphene, linalool, d-limonene, linalyl acetate, and geranyl acetate and these are only some of the top noted constituents. There are many more.

Each constituent has been scientifically studied, researched and documented and shown to have various therapeutic actions such as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, sedative, and the list goes on. They have also been found to affect our moods, emotions and overall physical well-being. Below is examples of the constituent’s a-pinene and b-pinene. They are made of carbon and hydrogen but note the slight differences in the two and because of this difference, they therapeutically work slightly different. A-pinene is an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal (candida), antispasmodic, antiviral, prevents bone loss whereas b-pinene is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, prevents bone loss.

And as always with chemistry, there comes safety and this applies to essential oil chemistry. Oils high in constituents such as phenols are going to be very irritating whereas oils made of Sesquiterpenes are gentle loving oils to the skin. So learning the chemical family and safety of each individual oil is important.

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