Sunday, 20 November 2011

Essential Oil Chemistry - functional groups

Each essential oil has its own aroma and its unique chemical makeup.

This makeup contributes to the electrical charge of the essential oil, negatively charged essential oils and blends tend to be more relaxing, positively charged essential oils and blends tend to be more stimulating.  The charge can be demonstrated by passing essential oil vapour between two electrically charged plates (Franchomme and Penoel)

Esters and alcohols are generally safe in use. Caution needs to be exercised with other functional groups such as ketones.

Esters - calming, good for skin conditions
Aliphatic aldehydes - refreshing antiseptic antifungal
ketones - cooling, decongestant, analgesic
sesquiterpenes - balancing, soothing, digestion, warming
lactones and coumarins - balancing, decongestant, photosensitive
remainder - the unreported part of the oil
oxides - expectorant, respiratory decongestant, diuretic
acids - deodorant (small quantities)
aromatic aldehydes - warming, antiseptic, antifungal
monoterpenes - skin tonic, digestion, liver
alcohols - antiviral, bactericidal, tonic but gentle
phenols, phenolic ethers - stimulating, antiviral, aggressive

Rosemary Caddy uses simple pie charts. its probably the best use of a pie chart you could want to see. The 12 chemical families are each given a colour. Each oil has its own pie chart. Each blend is a combination of the oil charts for the therapeutic effect required. For example an acne blend of petitgrain 3 drops, chamomile moroc, niaouli, cedarwood virginian 2 drops. petitgrains esters are combined with niaoulis oxides and cedarwoods sequiterpenes to give esters 26%, alcohols 29% sesquiterpenes 18% but displayed in a simple and memorable pie chart onto which in the students mind this wealth of detail can be added.


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