Are you relatively new to working with essential oils? Or have you been using the same ones over and over? Don’t be afraid to experiment with new oils, but make sure to read the labels and understand what the bottles contain. Specifically, be aware of essential oil chemotypes. Chemotypes will help determine which oils can be blended together and what their aromas and therapeutic properties are.
Review this quick guide to have a better understanding of what essential oil chemotypes are and why they’re so important.
What Are Chemotypes?
When you’ve been shopping for essential oils, have you come across the word chemotype? Or maybe you’ve seen something like this: Rosemary ct. camphor. The “ct.” means chemotype and refers to the level of camphor in the rosemary. Many essential oil manufacturers will just print “Rosemary Camphor” on their product’s label instead of using ct. to let their customers know that this Rosemary contains high levels of camphor.
Simply put, the word chemotype means another or a different plant chemical. Chemotypes are flora of the same species and genus that may look the same but are varied in their chemical components. This is due to the growth conditions being different for the plants. The chemotype listed on the label is the oil’s dominant element.
Many plants can generate a variety of elements due to ecological influences such as: the growing conditions (soil, fertilizers, amount of water, etc.), the elevation of the plant, and the overall climate. However, not all plants are able to create chemotypes.
Common Essential Oil Chemotypes
As noted above, some plants can produce several chemotypes depending on the growth circumstances. The botanical names for these essential oils will be the same, however, the chemotype or ct. will highlight which chemical component is most prevalent. Therefore, choose carefully!
Here is just one example of an oil with several chemotypes: Thyme ct. thymol; Thyme ct. geraniol; Thyme ct. linalool; and Thyme ct. carvacrol. This means that thyme can produce up to four different chemotypes. Be certain to know which one you want before making a purchase.
Why Do Chemotypes Matter?
In order to choose the right essential oil for your purpose, know which chemotype you need. The same essential oils with different chemotypes have various therapeutic properties, safety concerns, and even aromas. Some chemotypes will work together more effectively than others. Take your time, do some research, and experiment. You may find the aroma of camphor, for example, more soothing than others.
As in the example with thyme, a chemotype of geraniol with have different properties than linalool. Be cautious, however. Not every company selling essential oils have labels that identify the possible chemotype. If you know for certain that a particular oil can contain chemotypes, but don’t see it posted on the front of the label, look at the list of components on the back. Whatever has the highest percentage is its chemotype. You can also do some research to see if any testing has been done on this oil and what was found.
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