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 resistant to learn this molecular science. However, 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 five reasons why we think every aromatherapist needs to learn essential oil chemistry:
- You’ll 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. 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.
- 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 knowing that all the aromas we work with are virtually countless combinations of these three elements still blows our mind!
- 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 gives you a deeper understanding of health and healing.
- Learning about essential oil chemistry means you’ll be more informed on how to read and understand the components of 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 of that component are. You’ll also learn how to not fall into the trap of determining effects based solely 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.
- You’ll learn that the magic of the oils comes from the chemistry. For us, this doesn’t break the spell. It’s 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’s like no other teacher we’ve ever had.
In 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, but his personality shines through when he’s teaching. He brings 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: