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Essential Oil Chemistry 101

Essential oils how do they work?

Essential oils are extracted from plants using a variety of methods. An essential oil has the “essential” properties of the plant. ​ How do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils are made up of molecules that are very easily absorbed. Each oil has a unique chemical composition or attribute of terpenes, esters, oxides, alcohols, phenols, ketones, and aldehydes. These components interact with your body systems, and depending on the essential oil, support various systems of the body.

While not every oil will have all the attributes mentioned, it is a good bet that many of them have at least two or three within their chemical makeup.

  • Terpenes – inhibit toxin accumulation and discharge them from liver and kidneys

  • Esters – antifungal, calming, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral

  • Oxides – expectorant, antiseptic, anesthetic

  • Alcohols – antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, stimulate immunes system

  • Phenols – antiseptic, antibacterial

  • Ketones – stimulate cell regeneration, loosen mucous

  • Aldehydes – anti-infectious, sedative, topical irritants, calming when inhaled

What the list above tells us is that each attribute can be helpful to the body in its own way. No matter what condition you are trying to manage or stave off, these attributes can assist you in doing so effectively without the side effects of harmful pharmaceuticals.

Example: Lavender essential oil has 40% linalyl acetate, which is an ester. Spend some time researching the properties of linalyl acetate and you’ll see that it relaxes you, eases anxiety, makes you tired and also relieves seasonal allergies to name a few.