Aromatic Compounds + Functional Groups

Aromatic Compounds + Functional Groups

Aromatic Compounds + Functional Groups

Most of the therapeutic activity of an essential oil can be attributed to the functional groups of the individual chemicals that make up the oil. There can be over a hundred identifiable molecules in one essential oil. Each of these molecules, as mentioned earlier, is a chain or ring (or multiple-ring) structure of carbon atoms linked together with hydrogen atoms bonded to them in various configurations.
So, every chain or ring has a functional group attached – a functional group is defined by Salvatore Battaglia in ‘The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy’ as: “a single atom or group of atoms that has a profound influence upon the properties of the molecule as a whole. It is often referred to as the chemically active center of the molecule”.

Essential oils are really very complex in their chemical nature. There are nearly infinite possibilities of functional group and ring or chain combinations. And ONE essential oil alone can be made up of HUNDREDS of these different molecular arrangements.

Don’t worry – I know it sounds super confusing (and it can be) but, while it sounds complex, we don’t need to know all the precise chemical details to use essential oils effectively. When choosing an oil for a specific issue, it is helpful to know that an oil will be made up largely of a few primary molecular forms (constituents), with a bunch of minor trace ones that contribute to the oil’s aroma and therapeutic action. It’s those big 1,2 or 3 that we want to focus on.

 
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