Chemistry is the backbone of life on earth and is intricately involved in the world around us. If you have ever seen water boil or freeze, watched leaves change colour in the fall, or washed your hands with soap, then you have experienced chemistry first hand. Often times, people have a negative association with the word “chemical, ” thinking it must be something bad or unnatural. In reality, all matter is composed of chemicals! These chemicals are what allow a substance to retain its properties, react to its surroundings, or induce physiological responses. In terms of essential oils, the chemical profile is what determines the oil’s mechanism of action and function in the human body.
Chemistry may seem overwhelming, even daunting, to those with no formal scientific training; however, the overall complexity of this subject should not inhibit anyone from delving into the chemical world. A fundamental knowledge of chemistry allows us to understand the characteristic properties of the different classes of essential oil constituents and in turn, enhance usage protocols, substitute alternatives as necessary, and ensure safe handling and application. The benefits of understanding chemistry basics cannot be overstated and will be an invaluable tool along your journey of essential oil usage.