Chemistry of Essential Oils — Part I

To be able to get the most out of using Essential Oils it’s great to learn a little bit about the Chemistry that makes up Essential Oils.  I’m not a chemist nor have much of a background in chemistry, but I have found that in reading about what makes up the different oils helps me in deciding which oils to try when addressing a certain issue that I or one of my family members may have.

Basically, pure essential oils can be subdivided into two distinct groups of chemical constituents, the hydrocarbons and the oxygenated compounds.

Hydrocarbons are made up exclusively of terpenes (monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes).

Oxygenated Compounds are mainly esters, aldegydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides.

Today I’m going to talk about one of the terpenes — SESQUITERPENES

Sesquiterpenes are soothing to inflamed tissue and can also produce profound effects on emotions and hormonal balance.  There are as many as 3,000 different sesquiterpenes found in essential oils.  Research from the universities of Berlin and Vienna show increased oxygenation around the pineal and pituitary glands.  Further research has shown that sequiterpenes have the ability to surpass the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain tissue, other sesquiterpenes, like chamazulene and farnesol, are very high in anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity.  Chamazulene may be found in chamomile, tansy, and yarrow.

The sesquiterpenes stimulate the pineal gland and the limbic region of the brain, the center of emotions.  The pineal gland is responsible for releasing melatonin, a powerful immune stimulant and antitumoral agent.

After 11 seconds of inhalation of oils high in sesquiterpenes you have a 28% increase of oxygen in the brain.  After topical application and waiting 15 minutes there is 15-18% increase in blood oxygen.  When people are stressed the noise in the brain increases (with increase of blood flow).  Upon inhalation of oils with sesquiterpenes, the brain wave (noise) patterns change to rational logical thinking.  The longer the oil is smelled, the more likely the brain will move into creative brain wave patterns.

These essential oils with high sesquiterpene content include cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, ginger, vetiver, blue cypress, and myrrh.  The highest being CEDARWOOD, SANDALWOOD, and VETIVER.

Inhaling these oils can be very beneficial when trying to stabilize emotions.  They are ones that I use frequently when making “Happy Blends” for me and my family.  Let me know in the comment section below the experiences that you have had with these oils that are high in sesquiterpenes.

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