The chemistry of essential oils consists of simple hydrocarbons, oxygenated hydrocarbons with different structured molecules.
An oxygenated hydrocarbon is a compound of three elements: hydrogen and carbon (which make a hydrocarbon) with one or more oxygen atoms attached.
The oxygenated compounds of essential oils are the ones that gives oils most of their pleasing, pungent, emotionally satisfying aromas, and other outstanding qualities we enjoy so much. Oxygen is where the action is. It is the fuel of life and a source of the unique healing energies for essential oils as well.
Organic oxides are an example of oxygenated hydrocarbons. However, in oxides an O atom is attached to the hydrocarbon in a special way, like no other and this position set it apart from all other types of oxygenated hydrocarbons. Oxides are not common in essential oils, except the 1,8 cineole also known as eucalyptol, which is the major one and the most common oxide in essential oils.
The 1,8 cineol is decongesting and a popular ingredient to use in over-the-counter medications for colds, flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. It is incredibly supportive of respiratory functions. Research has shown that inhaling 1,8 cineole increases blood flow in the brain, which can relieve head pain and improve concentration. Essential oils containing 1,8 cineole are often used as natural medicines for these therapeutic purposes.
Oils composed mostly of oxide include:
- Eucalyptus Blue mallee (90%)
- Eucalyptus radiata (69%)
- Eucalyptus globulus (68%)
- Cajuput (60%)
- Ravensara (55%)
- Niaouli (50 %)
- Rosemary (47%)