When working with essential oils, it is important for you to understand the chemical makeup of each different variety of oil. By knowing the components of a specific oil, it can then be used in the correct manner. It will also help you safely heat oils if necessary and know what to expect when mixing two or more oils together. The information can also be valuable if you have any specific allergies to certain components of essential oils. You can either avoid the ingredient or use oils that contain a very small amount. There are two main groups of compounds that make up essential oils. They are hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds. These are then broken down into smaller categories. Most essential oils are made out of the following types of components.
Terpenes can refer to a wide variety of compounds. They are the main ingredient in essential oils as they are found in most plants. There are many different types of terpenes with different characteristics that give an oil its specific capabilities.
Esters are the result of acids mixing with alcohols. They tend to give an oil calming and relaxing effects, the basis of aromatherapy.
Aldehydes are responsible for the oil’s fragrance and are calming to the body’s nervous system. They can provide relief from stress and anxiety.
An essential oil that is high in ketones will be able to promote healthy cell regeneration and promote the growth of new tissue.
In regulated studies that involved lab animals, essential oils that contained high amounts of alcohol showed the ability for damaged cells to once again become healthy and functional.
These help cells to erase damage and any memory of it. They stimulate the immune system and strengthen the nervous system. Phenolics are also very antioxidant, meaning that they stop oxidation. Oxidation occurs when electrons are lost. This reaction can produce free radicals, which can be dangerous to the human body.
Found in many plants, oxides are chemical compounds that are the result of oxidized alcohols, terpenes or ketones.
All of these categories can be broken down into even smaller groups. The chemical makeup of an oil can be quite complicated but shows scientists how and why essential oils work with the human body.
What Is Lavender Essential Oil Made Of?
Lavender essential oil is a combination of over fifty individual components that work together to give lavender oil its healing abilities. Alone, these components will not have the same effect as when they are combined in the oil. Lavender oils can vary slightly as there are different types of plants. Climate, environment, the altitude at which the crop is grown and the country of origin can all have an affect on the oil. However, they all contain similar properties. Lavender essential oil is mainly composed of a-pinene, limonene, 1,8-eneole, cis-ocimene, trans-ocimene, 3-octanone, camphor, linalool, linalyl acetate, caryophyllene, terpinen-4-ol and lavendulyl acetate. Here is an explanation of the more common components and how they give lavender oil its healing and aromatherapy characteristics.
An organic compound of the terpene class, a-pinene is found in the oils of coniferous trees. It is considered to be a broad-spectrum antibiotic and also shows signs of being able to improve memory and brain function. Lavender oil has shown in studies that it may be able to help the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and may even prevent the disease from progressing.
Limonene is a colorless liquid that is considered a cyclic terpene and is a common added ingredient in cosmetic products. It can alleviate heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease. It can also be used as a solvent. Lavender oil can be added to teas to help relieve upset stomachs, including nausea, indigestion, bloating and gas. The oil should never be consumed alone by mouth.
Camphor is a solid component that can act as a local anesthetic. It is placed in the ketones category and can also be used in low dosages in baby oil as it possesses calming qualities. The oil can be used by adults as a means to lessen stress and relax. Certain types of lavender essential oil do not contain camphor, so if you plan on using the oil to help tackle stress, make sure you research the ingredients.
Lavender oil is made up of 51% linalool. Found in many flower and spice plants, linalool is a common ingredient used to add scent to body products and household cleaners. It can also be used to eliminate fleas and fruit flies. It has strong antiviral and antibacterial characteristics. Lavender oil is often first reconized for its aroma, which is mostly thanks to linalool. The component is also why lavender oil can be used as a natural bug repellent.
A type of terpene, this component may be responsible for lavenders anti-inflammatory property. When applied directly to the skin, lavender oil can help to sooth sore muscles and reduce inflammation in sore joints.
The main component in tea tree oil, terpinin-4-ol is a great sterilizer and disinfectant. Tea tree oil is used often with lavender in home cleaning products to increase its disinfecting abilities. This component is what gives lavender essential oil its main antibacterial properties.
While the scientific makeup of this oil can seem intense, lavender essential oil is considered to be one of the safest essential oils but precautions should still be taken to make sure that there are no allergies present. Keep an eye out for any signs of allergic reactions and speak with a health care professional if you have any questions regarding the use of lavender oil. While the oil may be placed directly on the skin, contact should be avoided with the eyes and nostrils. It may be inhaled but only under direction of a medical professional. If added to food or drinks for consumption, only a couple drops should be added.