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Part 4: Terpene Hydrocarbons—Sesquiterpenes


Other varieties of terpenes form when additional isoprene units attach to a monoterpene. Sesquiterpenes are very similar to monoterpenes except for the one additional isoprene unit added to their structure for a total of 15 carbons. Because of their higher molecular weights, sesquiterpenes are less volatile than monoterpenes, and are therefore less prevalent in essential oils overall; however, they have unique properties that distinguish them from monoterpenes and make them important contributors to the synergistic functionality of essential oils. Common sesquiterpenes found in essential oils are cedrene, zingiberene, himachlene, and caryophyllene.

Main Health Effects:

  • Cleansing1
  • Digestive health2*
  • Aides in healthy circulation3*
  • Improves the appearance of skin4
  • Promotes grounding and balance of emotions5

Essential Oil Main Sesquiterpene Constituent(s) Amount
Cedarwood4,5 cedrene, thujopsene Approximately 70%
Patchouli4,5 bulnesene, guaiene Approximately 65%
Vetiver5 vatirenene, seychellane, cubebene Approximately 65%
Ginger2*,5 zingiberene, sesquiphellandrene, curcumene Approximately 55%
Ylang Ylang5 germacrene, caryophyllene, farnesene Approximately 55%
Myrrh1,2*,4,5 myrrh sesquiterpenoid, elemene Approximately 55%
Helichrysum4 himachalene, curcumene Approximately 40%
Melissa5 germacrene, caryophyllene Approximately 40%
Black Pepper3* caryophyllene Approximately 25%

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