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Aromatherapy Therapy Basics 2003

Aromatherapy Therapy Basics 2003

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Published by: Bogdan on Jan 02, 2011
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It is generally accepted that in aromatherapy wholeness and quality of essential oils are of paramount

In other trades that use essential oils, such as the perfumery industry, standardisation is important, as essential
oils are adjusted to suit the desired aromas.

In aromatherapy, however, it is important to preserve wholeness to guard against its natural synergy, as the
components that make up an essential oil co-operate to produce its healing effects.

When single active compounds are removed from an essential oil, not only is the synergy diminished but also
isolated components may need greater care when used alone and may produce side effects, which seemed to be
quenched when used in the whole oil.

Gas Chromatography is not a guaranteed test of purity, but is a
comparative test; each batch tested is compared to a known reference,
which is the ‘standard’. However, it is possible to highlight adulterants
that are not evident on the ‘standard’.

Key Note

Complete the following table to identify the following chemical
compounds of essential oils.


Aromatherapy: Therapy Basics Second Edition


Based on the carboxyl group (COOH). Rare components of
essential oil; have a low volatility rate.

Contain ten carbon atoms and the chemical functional group
OH. Are referred to as terpene derivatives.

Based on the carboxyl group (C O). Commonly found as
essential oil components. Some may be skin irritants and

Produced from the corresponding terpene alcohol and organic
acid. Based on carboxyl group (COOH). Very important
constituents of essential oils.

Based on carbonyl group (C—O), potentially toxic compounds.
Similar in structure to aldehydes.

Mainly found in expressed oil. Contain the sub group
furocoumarins, which are photo-sensitisers.

The structure of these compounds is that the oxygen atom in
the molecule is situated between two carbon atoms C—O—C.
Found rarely in essential oils.

Contain the functional group OH, which attaches itself to a
carbon in an aromatic ring. Can be irritating to the skin.

Contain ten carbon units and are therefore made up of two
isoprene units. Found in practically all essential oils.

These compounds contain 15 carbon atoms and are made up
of three isoprene units. Less common components of essential
oils; have an important influence on the fragrance of an
essential oil.

Chemical compounds


✽Table 4: Chemical compounds of essential oils ✽

Basic Chemistry for Aromatherapy


1.Name the chemical elements that represent the basic building blocks for essential oils.

2.State the two classifications of essential oil components, and their sub classifications.

3.Describe the two main chemical structures that form the main building blocks for essential


4.What is meant by the term chemotype?

5.What is Gas Chromatography?

Self-assessment Questions

6.Why is it impossible to analyse all chemical constituents of an essential oil?

Aromatherapy: Therapy Basics Second Edition



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