Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Chemistry Behind Essential Oil Healing

There is science and chemistry behind how essential oils heal the skin and that is why I have included them in my line of organic  skin care. When you work with essential oils to heal you are basically working with chemistry.

The first thing to understand is that essential oils are not the same as perfumes.[i] They are made from array of naturally occurring constituents like oxides, alcohols, phenols, esters and aldehydes.  Each of these types of ingredients has their own healing properties and can be antibacterial or anti-viral as well.  There is some complex chemistry behind how oils will heal and how effective the healing occurs is might depend on the quality of the plant used and the method of distillation.

The actual chemistry behind how it heals is very complex but here is a bit of a crash course in how the healing constituents perform their healing miracles.

Essential Oil Composition

Like anything that exists, essential oils are made of elements.  Primarily they are made up of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. The secondary element are Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Chlorine with traces of Iron, Zinc, Selenium, Iodine Bromine and Flourine.[ii]

The oil composition is made of two family compound groups – Hydrocarbons and Oxgyenated.  These two groups, the first oxygenated and the other not are the healing constituents in the oils.

The Hydrocarbons formed are:

The oxygenated compounds are grouped as:

In each and every essential oil there are complex relationships formed between all of these constituents. The way these essential oils act together determines how they will go about healing.

Here is a breakdown of the healing constituents in oils and what each is responsible for doing in order to help you heal emotionally, psychologically and physically.[iii]

Phenols - Phenols are compounds that clear the way for other types of healing compounds in an oil blend that make sure that their healing messages reach the brain.  Examples of oils that contain a lot of phenols are Pine, Marjoram and Oregano.[iv]

Ketones – Ketones also clear message pathways to the brain so that oils with other healing constituents can be effective; they have a purgative effect. [v]Examples of oils that are heaving in Ketones are Rosemary, Thyme and Hyssop.

Sesquiterpines – These are the “fixing molecules” [vi]that amplify the effects of small light molecules so they can meet their target to the brain; they also work to erase old patterns and information from cellular memory to create a clean slate for healing. Examples of oil that are loaded with them include Cedarwood, Sandalwood and Myrrh.

Diterpenes – These are heavy molecules that help fix other constituents in essential oils that can help clear cellular memory. This type of molecule is very rare in an essential oil[vii] but it is found in Clary Sage, which is used extensively for healing mood and emotional disorders.

Monoterpenes – These oil constituents provide coherence and balance to the other compounds in the oil, unifying and organizing the healing effect.[viii] They help provide correct information to cells that may have incorrect information and causing disease and imbalance. Examples of oils that have a lot of montoerpenes are Tangerines, Grapefruit and Frankincense.

Alcohols – These are non- irritating therapeutic components [ix]that are gentle and mild and give the oil a pleasant odour. This triggers the brain to continue to smell the odor and thereby absorb the healing molecules in the oil or oil blend. Examples of oils that are high in alcohols are Rose, Geranium and Lavender.

Acids – Rarely found in essential oils they cause a reaction with other compounds[x] usually as a benefit.  An example of an essential oil with many acids is Cinnamon.

Esters – Esters are created when alcohols and acids react with each other to create a tempting pleasant aroma.[xi] This tempts you to inhale so you can enjoy the benefits of other healing constituents in oil blends. Examples of oils with pleasant fragrant esters are Petitgrain, Neroli and Orange.

Aldehydes – These are components in every oil that create powerful aroma.  Essential oils with a lot of aldehydes are used often in the fragrance and perfume industry. Examples of these oils include Lemongrass, Melissa and Lemon.

Oxides – These are compounds in terpenes, alcohols and ketones that have oxidized to create a powerful effect. [xii] Usually they are found in oils that tare good for the respiratory system. [xiii]Examples include Eucalyptus, Ravensara and Naiaouli.

How the essential compounds intricately work together to produce an effect is not completely comprehended at this time even though pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies have been researching the effects of essential oils for years. It has been determined that chemists have so far identified more than 3,000 aromatic compounds and more are always be discovered.[xiv]

[i] Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil, A World of Plenty, Retrieved September 14, 3:00 pm.
[ii] Essential Oil Chemistry of Our BioSpiritual Allies., September 15 2014, 2:00 pm.
[iii] Linda Smith, Key Chemical Compounds In Essential Oils and Their Effects. Essential Oils for Physical Health and Well- Being Course Healing Chart Handout. 2007.
[iv] Linda Smith, handout.
[v] Linda Smith, handout.
[vi] Linda Smith, handout.
[vii] Linda Smith, handout.
[viii] Linda Smith, handout.
[ix] Linda Smith, handout.
[x] Linda Smith, handout.
[xi] Linda Smith, handout.
[xii] Linda Smith, handout.
[xiii] Linda Smith, handout.
[xiv] Bio-Spiritual Energy Healing. Retrieved September 14,2014, 9:55 pm.

For more information about The Pinewood Institute for the Advancement of Natural Medicine courses including course outlines, detailed descriptions of courses and information about upcoming training sessions, please go  You can also send us an email using our email form at or call us at 416-656-8100. If you prefer to fax the number is 416-656-8107.

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