Chemistry Aromatherapeutic Oils

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Overview This revised study of the chemistry and pharmacology of aromatherapy oils offers a practical approach to learning the basics of essential oils. Moving step-by-step at the molecular level through 89 scents, this work includes useful diagrams as well as techniques for oil extraction.

Discussed are techniques for applying the benefits of aromatherapy to different body systems including muscles and joints, the respiratory system, and the immune system. An ideal handbook for those interested in aromatherapy as a holistic therapy, this work also provides many tips for how even the most simple applications of aromatherapy can improve one's quality of life.

Lecture 2 - The Chemistry of Essential Oils: Basic Chemistry Review

Product Details About the Author. Essential oils, like all organic compounds, are made up of hydrocarbon molecules and can further be classified as terpenes, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones and phenols etc. To help you in the understanding of the chemical constituents of the oils, it may be a good idea just to have a look at what an isoprene unit is. Every single oil normally has more than a hundred components, but this figure can also run into thousands, depending on the oil in question. When you analyze essential oils with a chromatograph various organic components are found and the primary ones are as follows:.

Terpene hydrocarbons Monoterpene hydrocarbons Sesquiterpenes Oxygenated compounds Phenols Alcohols Monoterpene alcohols Sesquiterpene alcohols Aldehydes Ketones Esters Lactones Coumarins Ethers Oxides Terpenes Hydrocarbons: Monoterpene These monoterpene compounds are found in nearly all essential oils and have a structure of 10 carbon atoms and at least one double bond.


The 10 carbon atoms are derived from two isoprene units. They react readily to air and heat sources. For this reason citrus oils do not last well, since they are high in monoterpene hydrocarbons and have a quick reaction to air, and are readily oxidized. Although some quarters may simply state that these components have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial therapeutic properties while some can be analgesic or stimulating with a tonic effect, it could be seen as a very broad generalization, since this large group of chemicals vary greatly.

Chemistry Aromatherapeutic Oils by Joy Bowles

Since some have a stimulating effect on the mucus membranes they are also often used as decongestants. Sesquiterpenes These sesquiterpenes consist of 15 carbon atoms and have complex pharmacological actions and here we can look at chamazulene, which is found in German chamomile. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties.

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Another sesquiterpene often found in chamomile and rose, as well as other floral oils is farnesene. History highlight of terpene research The Nobel prize winner for Chemistry was Professor Otto Wallach for his work on terpenes which influenced the essential oil industry. Oxygenated compounds: Phenols The phenols found in essential oils normally have a carbon side chain and here we can look at compounds such as thymol, eugenol and carvacrol. These components have great antiseptic, anti-bacterial and disinfectant qualities and also have greatly stimulating therapeutic properties.

Due to the nature of phenols, essential oils that are high in them should be used in low concentrations and for short periods of time, since they can lead to toxicity if used over long periods of time, as the liver will be required to work harder to excrete them.

Essential Oils: Contact Allergy and Chemical Composition - CRC Press Book

Phenols are also classified as skin and mucus membrane irritants and although they have great antiseptic qualities, like cinnamon and clove oil, they can cause severe skin reactions. Alcohols Monoterpene alcohols These oils have good antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties with very few side effects such as skin irritation or toxicity and have an uplifting energizing effect.

Examples of these alcohols are linalool, citronellol and terpineol found respectively in lavender, rose and geranium, and in juniper and tea tree oil.

Sesquiterpene alcohols These alcohols are not commonly found in essential oils, but when found, like bisabolol in German chamomile, have great properties, which include liver and glandular stimulant, anti-allergen and anti-inflammatory. Other oils that contain sesquiterpene alcohols are sandalwood a-santalol as well as ginger, patchouli, vetiver, carrot seed, everlasting and valerian.

Aldehydes These aldehydes have anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, sedative yet uplifting therapeutic qualities and are the component that imparts the citrus-like fragrance in melissa, lemongrass and citronella. More books by this author.

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