Have you ever wondered where the therapeutic properties of essential oils are found?  Essential oils are made up of chemical components and it is here where we find the oil’s wonderful healing and therapeutic properties.  Besides giving the oils their therapeutic properties, these chemical components help the plant to adapt to its habitat, to attract pollinators, ward off pests, allow the plant to absorb sunlight and to grow.

When essential oils are distilled or pressed from the plant materials, their chemical components are available  at much higher levels, which is why we recommend that these highly concentrated oils are diluted when used.  Very few drops of essential oil are actually required to benefit from the therapeutic properties found in these chemical components.

The latin names or botanical names of plants are very important, as they specify the genus and species of the plant which the essential oil comes from.  Different species of the same plant can contain different chemical components that provide different benefits and uses.

Let’s take a look at Lavender for example. Here are just two of over 40 species of Lavender:

Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia  Lavendula is the genus and angustifolia is the species.

Spike Lavender – Lavandula latifolia  Lavendula is the genus and latifolia is the species.

The primary chemical components of Lavandula angustifolia are linalool and linalyl acetate.  There are many others, but these are the highest percentage components which give the plant the properties we look for.

The primary chemical components of Lavandula latifolia are linalool, 1,8-cineole and camphor.

The linalool provides us with the therapeutic properties which reduces infections, reduces pain, eases muscle spasm, is calming, anti-inflammatory, sedative and promotes relaxation.

The 1,8-cineole has therapeutic benefits which help ease inflammatory airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

The linalyl acetate helps with pain reduction, stimulating the immune system, calming nervous tension and is soothing and balancing.

Camphor is a respiratory decongestant and helps reduce coughing, it helps reduce pain and ease headaches.

So you’ll see that Lavandula angustifolia is a gentle and calming oil and good for evening use, whereas Lavandula latifolia is quite stimulating and best used during the daytime.

This is just one example of why it is important to consult with a qualified aromatherapist when using essential oils.  The are incredibly helpful and healing if used correctly.