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How to ensure that the Ravensara / Ravintsara you are using is the one you think you are using

Posted by Lauren at 17:06 on 15 Sep 2017

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At times I come across therapists who are still not quite sure about which essential oil they are or should be using. Is it Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) or Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora cineol type)?  Which you choose to use depends entirely on what you want the essential oil for and what results you want to achieve.

In the late 80’s when Pierre Franchomme and Daniel Penoél introduced Ravensara to aromatherapists studying the French Medical/ Scientific aromatherapy, there were only Ravensara aromatica and Ravensara anisata. Later botanists informed that the botanical name Ravensara, Ravensara aromatica was used erroneously for that particular oil and renamed it Ravintsara, Cinnamomum camphora ct. cineol. Around the same time another essential oil using the name Ravensara, Ravensara aromatica was introduced on the market.

If you wish to use the Ravensara originally introduced by Franchomme and Penoel, for the properties given to it, you will want to use the one called Ravintsara, Cinnamomum camphora ct cineol that has the chemical analysis you see below.

The only sure way to ensure that what you are using is what you want to use, is to check the chemical structure of the essential oil. There will be some natural variation in the amounts of the components, but the basic structure will be clear.

Ravintsara                                    Ravensara
Cinnamomum camphora             Ravensara aromatica
ct. cineol

                                    %                                     %

alfa-thujene               1,2

alpha pinene              5,2                                   5,5

sabinene                    11,0                                 11,4

beta-pinene                2,8                                

1,8 cineole                52,6                                  1,1

methyl chavicol    -                                            7,9

terpinen-4-ol              4,1                                  4,0

alfa terpineol             12,4                                 0.4

limonene     -             19,4

linalool                      5,3

methyl eugenol          5,0

other monoterpenes                                             20,0   

about      

e-caryophyllene                                                  3,5 

germacrene d                                                      4,8

other sesquiterpenes     

about                                                                   7,0                                       

As you can see the chemical analysis differs considerably between the two oils. This means that the therapeutic qualities are also different from each other. The oil now called Ravintsara, Cinnamomum camphora ct cineol has the composition of the “original Franchomme / Penoel Ravensara.” You can see that the main component of this oil is 1,8 cineol. Other components are monoterpenes approx.20 % and monoterpene alcohols approx.16,5 %.

In the early days of working as an aromatherapist I found it impossible to find essential oil companies who provided the analysis of the essential oils

they sold. So when I moved back to my home country Finland I contacted the professor of pharmacognosy Raimo Hiltunen at the University of Helsinki. He had a reputation of being very knowledgeable about essential oils. The University also had the equipment to make the essential oil chemical analyses. So for many years I was lucky enough to have the oils that I used analysed and got to know the possible natural annual variations between them, variations between producers and also the difference between organically produced and “standard” grown essential oils. I also learned and became experienced in using the essential oils based on their chemical structures. This enabled me to “demand” the same results of the oils for each application. In those early days 1998 -1999 Professori Hiltunen and his Assistant presented a poster on the Ravensara aromatica (obtained from Ruska-Aromatica, as our company was then called) at the 29th International Symposium of Essential Oils in Frankfurt, Germany. (J.Essential Oil Res.,11, 677-678 (Nov/Dec 1999). The oils that I have been using have had this basic chemical structure for the past 23 years, since starting studies with Franchomme and Penoel.

The most important property for this oil now called Ravintsara, Cinnamomum camphora ct. cineol is that is wonderful for all and any respiratory problems.

We have successfully used it for asthmatics without any adverse reactions in all these years. I am very careful about what I use for children, but this is the one oil that I can without hesitation recommend to be used for little children (of course reduced dosage on the skin) and babies in the room air for relieving breathing problems It is also good for stilling an overactive mind and helping to focus.

Ravensara Aromatica on the other hand is made up of monoterpenes about 60%, sesquiterpenes about 10%, monoterpene alcohols 5%, and methyl ethers 12,8%.

I have not used this Ravensara aromatica, so I cannot tell you from experience, but I can give you my understanding of it’s use based on it’s chemical composition.

All of the components listed have some anti infectious qualities so that would be the number one area that I would address it. Because of it’s methyl ether content combined with the near 20% of limonene I would be cautious using it for anyone with sensitive skin, As an inhalant it could be useful for respiratory infection if the aroma is acceptable.

I do not use the essential oils at all applied on the skin for pregnant mothers, but I know that many do and this oil is one that I would not recommend to be used.

The aroma of Ravintsara aromatica differs considerably from the Cinnamomum camphora ct cineol, which is no surprise looking at the chemical analysis. I did not find the aroma pleasing in any way so to me it would not be one for emotional uses.

Knowing your oils in this detail will become more and more necessary as this is the only way that we therapists can really be sure of what we are using. The quality of your oils is the key to successful, targeted results for the treatments and from the analysis one can always check that is wanted is what you are using. The other route is to teach your nose to recognize the main components and unique characteristics of each of the oils. This method is of course not as easy and not necessarily as accurate.

by Ulla-Maija Grace (MIFA)