Be a Cool Nerd ~ Essential Oil Chemistry & Dr. Tim

Be a Cool Nerd ~ Essential Oil Chemistry & Dr. Tim

Last Sunday, Mom and I got to talking about why essential oil chemistry is something worth learning about. Even when Sylla began studying aromatherapy over 40 years ago, she felt resistance to learn this molecular science but once she did, the world of essential oils opened up to her in incredible ways. Though decades behind, I can attest to the same. We both agree there is great value in understanding the chemistry of essential oils.

Here are 5 reasons why we think every aromatherapist needs to learn essential oil chemistry:

  1. So you sound like a NERD…yeah, we actually think it’s cool to be nerdy when it comes to chemistry. Knowing the chemistry makes you sound smart (who doesn’t want that?). You can pronounce words like cinnamaldehyde and alpha-bisabolol, but more than that you know what they mean and how they contribute to the therapeutic effect or safety concerns of the oil. Plus, being smart also means that research papers and conference presentations make a lot more sense.
  2. It is not as hard as you think. Unlike the organic chemistry class you had in college, essential oil chemistry is primarily concerned with only three elements: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Just the idea that all the aromas that we work with are virtually just countless combinations of these three elements still blows our mind!
  3. When you think on the molecular level, you enter a whole new world. This can open doors to other fields of study, perhaps biochemistry or physiology. Then, you start to understand how your own body works which takes you to a deeper understanding of health and healing.
  4. Learning about essential oil chemistry means you will be more informed on how to read and understand the components or ingredients when you receive a new oil or product. You can look up the constituents (Need a resource? Our Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual has a Phytochemical Index) and what the known therapeutic properties are of that component. You will also learn how to not fall into the trap of determining effects just based on major components–a study of essential oil chemistry quickly reveals the nuances of these “potent chemical cocktails,” as Dr. Tim likes to call them.
  5. You will learn that the magic in the oils comes from the chemistry. For us, this doesn’t break the spell but just the opposite: understanding the science only enhances the magic.

So, you want to be a nerd? In October we are hosting Dr. Timothy Miller for AromaChemistry, a fun-filled weekend of nerdalicious learning. Even though we both teach essential oil chemistry in our Beginner’s Course and Practitioner Training, we wanted to host Tim because he is like no other teacher we’ve ever had.

You can see how Tim and I get along so well.

But here are Sylla’s words:

“I’ve studied a bit in my 40 years, and Tim Miller stands out as an exceptional teacher. Not only does he have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in his field as healer, his personality shines through when teaching bringing a fresh new energy that is quite appealing.

When he teaches I find myself fully engaged by his youthful presence. He has a way of recapping each lesson, relating the previous concepts to the next lesson and making sure students understand before moving on. Tim is a refreshing new teacher with lots to share.”

Hear Tim speak for himself:


Register for AromaChemistry, October 21-22 by September 15th and receive $25 off.


This class is approved for 12 credit hours towards the following professional credentials:

  • Florida Massage License (Provider #50-1959)
  • National Certification in Massage (NCBTMB – Provider #1462
  • Florida Acupuncture License
  • National Acupuncture PDAs (Provider #164136)
SGBF ~ Aromatherapy for Breast Cancer

SGBF ~ Aromatherapy for Breast Cancer

A few weeks ago, Sylla and I went to H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center to speak at a Lunch and Learn event for stage 4 breast cancer patients. It began with each of the women (and one husband who was accompanying his wife) sharing where they were at in their treatment. We learned why some of them were excited about NED (No Evidence of Disease) and felt touched that we could be there to support those going through harder times.

It was particularly special for us because Sylla (my mom) is a breast cancer survivor. She shared about how she found that cancer was a great uninvited teacher, that “it wasn’t enough to kill her but enough to make her change her life.” Though she’s now 20 years with NED, she still carries those lessons forward.

Even before she found her cancer in 1997, Sylla had helped her friend who also worked at Moffitt with a program called “Look Good, Feel Better.” With a mutual background in cosmetology, Sylla and her friend would teach these women skin-care and make-up techniques so they can begin to feel better as they re-integrated into everyday life.

So we thought, why not call our talk this week “Smell Good, Feel Better,” since that is one of the guiding principles of aromatherapy. In addition to sharing with everyone a basic introduction to essential oils, we highlighted what they can do in their lives.

  • Use essential oils in the air to help keep air clean and help support the immune system. Since many cancer patients’ immune systems are compromised, and since most essential oils carry at least mildly if not more so antimicrobial properties, this simple practice can help suppress the chance of getting a cold.
  • Have Peppermint or Ginger essential oil in an inhaler or a drop on a tissue to ease the discomfort of nausea.
  • Topical blends with anti-inflammatory or analgesic oils can help with muscle aches and pains.
  • Use the oils to help create a positive mental attitude. You can pair a scent with a relaxed state and then re-create that state as needed.

We mentioned in our student forum that we were going to speak and a few decided to send us items to share with these women. It was soon after so only one box got here in time, but we got to leave them with donations from Terrae Oleum. It was a joyful experience to share our love for the oils with these women and their caregivers. The other donations will get used at a bigger event next month!

Since our students were right on the ball wanting to help with more donations for these cancer patients, we’ve decided to collect donations for their retreat in September for a project we are calling, “Smell Good, Feel Better.” If you’d like to donate manufactured, compliantly labeled items (these cannot be homemade), contact us.


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