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Essential Oil Phytochemistry

Phytochemistry (a specialised branch of pharmacy) is the study of phytochemicals - these are the chemicals derived from plants and often used to describe the large number of secondary metabolic compounds found in plants and essential oils. 

Aromatherapy involves the therapeutic use of isolated plant principles, such as essential oils and, as such, may be considered a branch of phytotherapy.


Essential oils are chemical mixtures that are principally made up of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen covalently bonded together.  The simplest covalently bonded molecule, within essential oils, is a five carbon atom chain, but equally, much more complex chemical structures can also be formed which include:

  • Monoterpenes
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Alcohols
  • Phenols
  • Aldehydes
  • Ketones
  • Ethers
  • Oxides
  • Esters
  • Coumarins
  • Lactones

All these different chemicals exhibit a wide variety of therapeutic benefits and it is the knowledge and skilful blending of these chemicals (working together synergistically) which enable bespoke aromatic products to be created for individuals and their unique issues.