Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The chemistry of essential oils: Overview

I don't think it would be helpful to talk about essential oils without talking about the chemistry, so I'm going to take a few days to review what we find in these oils. If you're interested in learning more chemistry, this'll be a two-fer as we delve into the various molecules we might find in the oils and why they work they way they do.

We find a ton of interesting molecules in essential oils, with the most common being terpenes and terpenoids; sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenoids; phenylpropane derivatives; phenols; ketones; esters; aldehydes; alcohols; and oxides (to name a few!). Anyone who thinks that essential oils are "chemical free" are completely wrong, eh?

I'll be covering these in order...for the most part...starting with terpenes in a few minutes. I did write a post on this in the past, so I've updated it and will be posting it in about 5 minutes!

If you have any questions related to the chemistry of essential oils, I ask that you put them in this thread so I can find them easily!

All right - we're off! See you in a few moments!


Jodi said...

Hi Susan,
Do you like and/or use Balsam Peru Essential Oil? (INCI: Myroxolon Pereirae) One of the constituents is cinnamic acid.
I bought some, have used it and love the scent! I am concerned now because I just came across some information that indicates it is a top allergen. Although, It hasn’t bothered me yet.
I'm not sure about those sources and would love to hear what you think. Thanks so much for your continued passion!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jodi. No, I don't use it. I don't tend to like most essential oils that are earthy in nature - they really bother my nose! Something can be a potential allergen and not bother you! For instance, I can eat wheat with reckless abandon, but it might hurt you if you're cursed with celiac disease. Potential doesn't mean actual! So if you like it, use it!