Essential facts: What’s exactly in your essential oils?


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Do you wonder what is in essential oils that make them so important and therapeutic? What makes them instant healers? Readymade-cures for every sort of pain or infection or injury or even emotional problem? What pushes forth that instant relief? Though the limbic system and its connection with the important parts of the body maybe an answer, you cannot justify that the therapeutic effects essential oils have on our minds and bodies by pointing at the brain’s sensitivity to aromas. There ought to something quintessential about oils which make them special medicinal cures. This article will focus on the constituents of essential oils and how to determine their quality or impact on our body.

Essential oils – constituents: What makes essential oils essential? It is the constituents or chemical make up of every other oil which determines its effect on the human body. Like every other thing, essential oils is made of an array of molecules and atoms which can be found out using quality tests like Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS). As you know, essential oils are plant substances which are the life-blood of plants. They provide support to plants throughout their life processes and carry all the nutrients and anti-viral, microbial and bacterial properties of the plant immune system. When these natural substances are used for curing an ailment, they react with the same germs in the human body and bring about an instant relief.


This philosophy of using natural herbs are immunity agents has been in practice for ages. Modern day Aspirin is but the old times white Willow Bark, discovered over 2000 years ago by Hippocrates to ease headaches, pains and backaches. When science discovered that this bark contained salicin which helps reduce aches, they used the constituent in a tablet and so was born, modern-day Aspirin.

Chemical compounds that are unadulterated and pure are the highlights of essential oils. In general, the following group of constituents are present in any essential oil:

  • Acids
  • Alcohols
  • Aldehydes
  • Coumarins
  • Esthers
  • Ketones
  • Esters
  • Lactones
  • Oxides
  • Phenols
  • Terpenes

Quality of essential oil constituents: Some oils may have a higher concentration of one or two constituents, while some others may lack in the very same constituents. For instance, Lavender oil has a high percentage of ester known as linalyl acetate which has the power to isolate and synthesize particular constituents. Some oils maybe blends of two or more oils and will be very expensive to buy. This is the case with Japanese Yuzu oil which looks like a blend of Grapefruit and Mandarin oils. Exploiting this nature of Yuzu, many try to produce the oil at cheap rates by blending Grapefruit and Mandarin. In a similar way, Patchouli oil is blended with Cedarwood or balsams.

It is difficult to standardize the constituents and if you do so, then, your essential oil may not be pure. This is because oils are influenced by several factors – right from soil, place of origin, amount of rainfall, to altitude, temperature, production, extraction and distillation processes. And manufacturers often standardize oils based on their customers/clients’ requirements. If a manufacturer sells his oil to the perfumery industry, he follows a particular standardization process and ensures that the oil meets the mark. However, in the case of therapeutic grade essential oils, this is not possible as such a standardization would mean adulteration of a substance that was pure and natural. This is why it is important to check if your oil’s constituents are unadulterated before you buy.