Essential oils are made up of different chemical compositions.
This brief article will touch on one of them~ Esters.
Essential oils such as Lavender, Geranium, Bergamot, Clary Sage and Petitgrain have higher ester contents in their chemical composition.
In chemistry, an ester is a chemical compound derived from an acid in which at least one –OH group is replaced by an –O–alkyl group. Usually, esters are derived from a carboxylic acid and an alcohol.
The German chemist Leopold Gmelin was the first to give the name Ester to molecules with the –COO functional group.
Glycerides, which are fatty acid esters of glycerol, are important esters in biology, being one of the main classes of lipids, and making up the bulk of animal fats and vegetable oils. Esters with low molecular weight are commonly used as fragrances and found in essential oils and pheromones. Phosphoesters form the backbone of DNA molecules. Nitrate esters, such as nitroglycerin, are known for their explosive properties, while polyesters are important plastics, with monomers linked by ester moieties.
Esters are formed from alcohols and acids, and are named after both their original molecules with the alcohols dropping the "ol" and gaining an "yl" and the acids dropping the "ic" and gaining an "ate".
The esters found in essential oils are normally very fragrant and tend to be fruity and their therapeutic effects include being sedative and antispasmodic. Some esters also have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties - like the anti-fungal properties in geranium oil.
The most well-known ester must be linalyl acetate, which is found in lavender and clary sage.
Even though, a chemist may identify (most) of the chemical components that nature combines to make up the oils, using gas chromatography for instance, the best chemist CANNOT reproduce an identical oil, using the exact same chemical proportions. This replicated oil will not have the same therapeutic effect as the natural and pure essential oil. Science cannot replicate the brilliant mystery of Mother Nature, using the best minds and advanced technology available.
Lavender essential oil, for instance, can be used to successfully treat burns, as was first re-discovered by René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist who used lavender essential oil when he suffered severe burns in his lab in 1910.
Of this he wrote, “In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped the ‘gasification of the tissue’. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating and healing began the next day.” Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy, 1937.
But even if the best chemist using all the correct chemical components, such as borneol, terpineol, lavandulol geraniol and linolol, they would NOT have the secret formula that could successfully treat burns.
In fact, you cannot make up lavender essential oil in a laboratory, you will not have an oil that can successfully treat burns, reduce inflammation or calm you down, the way that true lavender oil can. You could even cause harm.
According to Jeannie Rose, it is the Lavendula Angustifolia that is grown in higher altitudes that has the best medicine that is distilled into the lovely and fragrant essential oil that most Aromatherapist suggest for use.
Essential oils are Organic compounds and are all hydrocarbon molecules.
These are further classified as terpenes, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones and phenols, oxides, etc.
Here we can take a closer look at esters, for instance: