Friday, 20 April 2012

Robert Tisserand May 12, 13 2012 London, Imperial College Huxley Building

What a weekend

Modern aromatherapy, the use of essential oils for the purpose of inducing physiological effects, originated in the South of France expressing the familiarity of the local population with the wide diversity of aromatic plants thriving in the mild climate of the region.

It was first formalized through the writings of Rene Maurice Gattefosse (1937) and Jean Valnet (1964). Aromatherapy effectively became an alternative healing modality for the lay public in the late 1970s, primarily by the success of the writings of Jean Valnet and consecutively by Robert Tisserand. Staying within the scientific trends of the time  essential oil activity was explained as a result of specific molecular structures or structural elements present in the oil. This led to a perception of essential oils as therapeutic agents whose application and use was fraught with hazards and complicated rules.

Viewing essential oil application through the more current perspectives of evolutionary and systems biology it turns out that most of the traditional knowledge about the use of medicinal and aromatic plants is in fact accurate. It follows that most essential oils can be utilized through very simple modes of application.

The workshop will explore various forms of topical applications of essential oils (diluted and also neat) for simple therapeutic interventions as well as daily grooming. This will include prevention and treatment of selected skin conditions, effective wound healing, preventing or easing arthritic pains and systemic issues such as stress management and simple enhancement of well being.

Even the often maligned internal use of essential oils can in most cases be seen as a rather harmless exercise which does, however, provide valuable benefits. The workshop will discus how many essential oils stimulate a very balanced inhibition/induction of liver detoxification enzymes and how this effect can be used practically for detoxification. Effective regimens to improve immune response and also how to use essential oils to ameliorate chemotherapy induced vomiting and nausea will be discussed.

Along the above outline the workshop will focus on the correct practical application of essential oils 

An essential oil is an aromatic isolate obtained from distinct secretory structures within a whole or plant part BY PHYSICAL MEANS ONLY. Extraction of an aromatic plant means that the plant or plant part  is treated with a volatile solvent to produce a range of extracts such as a concrete, absolute, oleoresin etc. The processes used to produce essential oils and various extracts will be discussed along with an introduction into deterpenation. Finally typical problems associated with essential oil distillation will be addressed.
Essential oils are complex mixtures of secondary metabolic compounds comprised monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and aliphatic and aromatic compounds. These can exist as hydrocarbons, oxides/ethers, alcohols, acids, esters, aldehydes, ketones, lactones, phenols, phenol ethers as well as nitrogen, and sulphur containing compounds. Typically an oil contains between 50-300 constituents in amounts greater than 1ppm (0.0001%). A brief introduction to chemical structural nomenclature as applied to oil compositions will be presented along with the evolution of some trivial names.
Isolates from essential oils can be used either as ingredients in the flavour and fragrance industries or as starting products for further synthesis. The  whole farming process through isolation of menthol from cornmint oil and sclareol from clary sage oil will be used to illustrate this point.
Essential oils are produced from a wide range of plants harvested both from their natural habitat and their cultivation site in a variety of countries.  A tour of some of these countries along with a discussion on their production statistics will be used to illustrate the diversity of origin and their production ramifications.
The section is divided into numerous unconnected areas of interest such as (a) the establishment of a crop development program, (b) a historical look at the essential oils in commerce, (c) the quality control of essential oils, (d) analytical methods used in essential oil analyses including the isolation of phenols, acids and lactones, pyridines and bases and carbonyl compounds, column chromatography, GC-FTIR, GC/MS, retention indices, headspace analysis, SPME and chiral GC analysis.

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