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 Peppermint Essential Oil Made Of?
Peppermint essential oil is a combination of over one hundred individual components that work together to give the oil its soothing and cooling properties. Alone, these components will not have the same effect as when they are combined in the oil. Peppermint oils can vary slightly as there are different types of plants. Oils from England tend to be of the highest quality, followed by oils from France and the United States. However, they all contain similar properties. Peppermint essential oil is mainly composed of menthol, menthol, 1,8-cineole, menthyl acetate, methofuran, isomenthone, limonene, b-pinene, a-pinene, germacrene-d, trans-sabinene hydrate and pulegone.. Here is an explanation of the more common components and how they give peppermint oil its calming and cooling characteristics.
Menthol is an organic compound obtained from oils and is the main component in peppermint oil. It acts as a local anesthetic and is able to chemically trigger receptors in the skin that provide a cooling sensation. Both of these qualities are what give peppermint oil the ability to be used as an effective pain relieving topical for sore muscles and joints.
Menthone is present naturally in peppermint oil and is known for its abilities to deter certain insects, including roaches. Peppermint oil can be used to deter mosquitoes, spiders and mice by mixing the oil with either a high proof alcohol or distilled water. It is safe to spray on windowsills and doorways to help keep unwanted pests out of the home.
A natural monoterpene, menthyl acetate contributes to the familiar smell and favor of peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is one of the oldest natural ingredients that have been added to foods and drinks by all different cultures throughout history.
Pulegone is an organic compound that occurs naturally in many different types of plants, including peppermint. It is a clear liquid that has a pleasant aroma that is behind the soothing smell of peppermint. It is often used separately in flavoring agents, not just peppermint but can be toxic if consumed in large quantities.
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. Peppermint oil has been known to improve brain function and is recommended to students as a study aid. If they inhale the oil while studying and then again before taking a test, the oil will help the brain remember what was studied.
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 gastro esophageal reflux disease. It can also be used as a solvent. Peppermint oil is well known for its capabilities to sooth an upset stomach and helps alleviate nausea and motion sickness. It should only be taken with water though, never undiluted.
While the scientific makeup of this oil can seem intense, peppermint 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 peppermint oil. The oil should always be diluted before being applied to the skin and contact should be avoided with the eyes and mucous membranes. While it can safely be added to water, teas and food it should never be consumed alone. Never use on a child younger than eight years old.