Properties, therapy exemples and toxicities of essential oils

Properties of essential oils: Short summary of what we found in the literature:

In most cases, the essential oil of a plant is not limited to a single property. This multiplicity of possible actions is mainly due to the complex composition of oils, rarely the same essential oil to another, even in cases of plant whose extracts have therapeutic properties very close. This is also what makes the magic of essential oils because, for the same overall therapeutic effect, the various mixtures created may generate particular synergies, as well by their other benefits, than by their scents.

In summary, here's how the functioning of key properties encountered in the use of essential oils is explained (see literature references):

a) With therapeutic functions of the compounds present in the essential oils:

Essential oils contain indeed a number of chemically defined compounds and exerts specific metabolic activities. They operate according to view in the same way as synthetic drugs used in conventional allopathic medicine. The essential difference in the case of this being that the aroma compounds in essential oils are mainly natural, act synergistically with each other, so without the additional presence of even trace of toxic "chemical" compounds (if these essential oils are obtained from wild or organic crops without pesticides).
b) "energy" Function of compounds:
An essential oil quality is primarily a purely natural extract composed of molecules with a "power" clean energy. They are indeed capable of generating metabolic processes (anti-inflammatory, analgesic capacity, ...) involving the transfer of electric charges, either by giving or accepting electrons

c) Information of essential oils Source:

Currently at the stage of research, it appears that olfactory aspect of essential oils is a source of psycho information detected by our olfactory receptors and interpreted by our "limbic" brain (endocrine?). This results in a modulation of our actions and behaviors, as well as regulating the management of our metabolism via the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.

In a few words, here is the description of some of the main therapeutic properties observed when using essential oils:

1) Anti-bacterial action:

This is probably the most recognized for most essential oils therapeutically property. Observed and studied for several decades by many researchers, many essential oils have been tested on a wide range of different bacteria (Gram + "shell" type as well as Gram-negative Escherichia coli gender). You will find in the references described in this site (References) list of essential oils tested and the results obtained on a large number of different bacteria (eg Ref. 1 and 7).

The antibacterial action of essential oils mechanisms are relatively well known. An action potential is the generation of irreversible damage to the membrane of bacterial cells that induce loss of material (cytoplasmic), salt loss, loss of energy substrates (glucose, ATP), leading directly to lysis of bactérise (cytolysis) and therefore to his death. Another possible action is the inhibition of the production of toxins by bacteria responsible for triggering the infectious process (see ref. 7).

2) anti-fungal Action:

The "fungi" include what is more commonly known as mushrooms and yeasts whose best-known member is the yeast "Candid albicans" responsible for many of our mycosis, vaginal candidiasis or thrush. They are unicellular organisms with a core (eukaryotes) unlike bacteria (prokaryotes). General ways, essential oils containing phenolic derivatives are particularly active in these organizations, but other oils containing it are also known to be very active in a lot of yeast, such as Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) lemongrass, palmarosa (see complete list in the file below: Composition and toxicities).

Modes of antifungal action are quite similar to those described for bacteria. However, we must add two additional phenomena inhibiting the action of yeast: the establishment of a pH gradient and blocking energy production yeasts ("breathing phenomenon").

3) anti-viral Action:

All viruses are parasites of necessity (for survival) of our cells. A virus is not known to reproduce by itself, and requires a host cell. When it spreads throughout the body the virus can be surrounded by a membrane similar to the host cell membrane, making it undetectable by the immune system of the infected and attacked by the body to known drugs days.

However, some essential oils have the amazing ability to bind to the outer membrane of the virus, destroying it and thus expose the viral particles, which, revealing the face of the defense system of the body, are immediately destroyed. In the literature (see list in Ref. 7), the various tests described show that at concentrations between 1% and 0.1%, essential oils tested are capable of destroying the virus particles in culture that can not be reached by most synthetic drugs manufactured to date.

4) anti-parasitic action:

The action of essential oils is known about the two main types of parasites:

External parasites: Essential oils are quite efficient against external parasites. Their mode of action is twofold: some aromatic molecules destroy parasites in "burning" their respiratory system (phenolic derivatives and terpene oxides) and others (phenols methyl ethers, terpene ketones or sesquiterpene lactones, etc ...) act generating a crippling parasite followed by death. In fact, their mechanism of action and very similar to those of chemical drugs currently available, except that they do not introduce toxicity and few side effects. To learn more about the recommended oils, do not hesitate to contact me or consult the references described here (see Ref. 7 for example).

Internal parasites: Two or three families of aromatic molecules present in some essential oils are able to have a wormer or vermicide activity: aromatic aldehydes, aromatic phenols and terpene ketones, which must be added a particular terpene oxide, the ascaridol. These molecules are very powerful and also have a certain toxicity to animals (Beware !! cats) and humans (see file below: Composition and toxicities). it is extremely important to balance the doses of essential oils ingested and the duration of treatment.

5) Action immunostimulatory:

Relatively little research have been done on this subject, but the little that has been done shows that it is undeniable that some essential oils induce a more or less stimulation of the immune system. Molecules such as 1,4-ol-terpinene, alpha-terpineol, linalool or geraniol are capable of increasing the content of immunoglobulins IgA and IgM in blood, IgA is specifically designed to combat gastrointestinal infections and those associated with mucous membranes. In practice we realize that antiviral essential oils are almost prompted systematically immunostimmulantes.

6) Anti-inflammatory action:

Inflammation is a complex process initiated either by an infection site, or by trauma (articular, muscular, circulatory, etc ...). The first type of inflammation can be stopped by removing the cause of the inflammation, that is to say, the infectious agent. This type of action will decrease the immune response and thus reduce inflammation. This type of action is called "immunomodulating". Other essential oils act directly on inflammatory sites by transferring electronic loads. For example, in the case hot inflammatory sites and which contain a surplus of charges "positive", certain molecules called "négativantes" will yield a negative charge to compensate the positive charge excess current and thus reduce inflammation. It is in this case of essential oils containing terpene esters, terpene aldehydes or sesquiterpenes. A final way anti-inflammatory action can be explained in some cases by the possibility of some essential oils to generate local heating (hyperemia). This last action accelerates locally input blood flow and the arrival of white blood cells and leukocytes, thereby leading to a reduction in inflammation. This mode of action is that of terpene aldehydes.

In addition, an anti-inflammatory effect can also be generated by certain cyclic monoterpenes activating certain endocrine glands such as the adrenal glands (pituitary-axis adrenal cortex). These products, among others present in the essential oils of pine syslvestre (Pinus sylvestris) and black spruce (Picea mariana), are recognized cortisone-like, especially because they are recognized as "activator" of the adrenal glands, especially glands causing production of glucocorticoids such as cortisol, corticosterone and cortisone (cf. ref. 13). The over-production of these anti-inflammatory steroids by the adrenal glands are at the origin of the anti-inflammatory effects, Tonic and neurotonic (improvement of energy metabolism) generated by these cyclic monoterpenes, but also causing effects side that might appear in a too frequent use of these oils (gastric acidity, reduced immune activity, decalcification, reduced muscle mass, ... etc, see ref. 12)

7) Action analgesic and antispasmodic:

Some essential oils are able to calm the spasms and fight against pain using a variety of mechanisms:

- Action musculotropic neurotropic and direct: some aromatic molecules (methyl ethers phenols) interact with the transduction of nerve messages and blocks, evening at the neuromuscular junction (neuromuscular junction) or further upstream by inhibiting current sodium ions which are used to spread the nervous message.

- Action "against cold-irritating" is the "ice effect" or stop the pain caused by a sudden cooling creates a kind of anesthesia by cold. The essential oils of mint (wild mint and peppermint) are particularly suitable for this function.

- Action "against hot-irritating" is the opposite strategy, the preferred heating to accelerate blood circulation by a vasodilator effect and facilitate the removal of toxins that can cause pain. This is the mode of action of essential oils of clove or wintergreen for example.

8) Action calming and sedative:

  Some essential oils have excellent de-stressing activities, relaxing, natural sedative see. The mechanisms responsible for these effects are currently not very well known, but most likely they act directly on the central nervous system (CNS), probably by a process of charge transfer (ditto some anti-inflammatory effects). Terpene aldehydes are best able to exercise this kind of calming effect charge transfer (see the citral of Lippia citriodora - Lemon Verbena), as well as terpene esters (Chamaemelum nobile - Roman Chamomile).

Aromatic esters act at an other process, by interfering with the control of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), or by acting on the "friendly" system, responsible for the awakening of the body, or by the "parasympathetic" system manage the sleep and the recovery of the body. The purpose of a relaxing effect will therefore be to stimulate the parasympathetic system or suppress the sympathetic system, or finally to combine the two effects. In calming the sympathetic system components include alot of esters (eg linalyl acetate in true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and the super lavender (Lavandula hybrida super) and nitro esters of the essence of tangerine (citrus reticulata). components include activating the parasympathetic system, we must highlight the key of the garden Marjoram (origanum majorana) has probably the greatest impact on the development rest of the body oil.

Finally, the  monoterpenic alcohols play a role in balancing of the nervous system. Positivantes Overall, these molecules modulating nerve, the acting as stimulating or calming depending on the status of the individual. This is the case of the 1.4-ol-terpinene and linalool (true lavender) that are recommended for massage ease sleep and better manage insomnia problems.

9) Action mucolytic, bronchodilator, expectorant:

  The mucolytic share some essential oils known exclusively from two families of molecules: terpene ketones and sesquiterpene lactones. Among the most known molecules, we find the allantolactone present in the Inule fragrant essential oil (Inula graveolens), the piperitone in eucalyptus mint essential oil (Eucalyptus dives) or cryptone in the essential oil eucalyptus to cryptone (eucalyptus polybractea). These molecules combine power of action and job security and thus avoid using essential oils certainly powerful in mucolytic level (sage, thuja communis, hyssop officinale, ...), but also very toxic (neurotoxic).

Regarding bronchodilators and expectorants effects, the most known is certe eucalyptol molecule or 1,8-cineol. It is found in high concentrations in many essential oils (Eucalyptus radiata, green myrtle Ravintsara, Rosemary cineol, hyssop lying ...).

For reasons of simplicity, essential oils can be classified by type of activity or relatives therapeutic properties. A summary of known among the most commonly used essential oils therapeutic effects (see sheet "List main properties"). This file is currently still being improved:

  Composition and Toxicity

Composition & Toxicity of HEComposition & Toxicity of HE (650.5 Ko)
(for access problem to the file, use this shortcut: or contact me :))

Toxicities of essential oils:

Toxicity of essential oils vary considerably from one to another essential oil is highly dependent on the sensitivity of the user. It must in any case never be overlooked and if in doubt, it is always advisable to consult a doctor or specialist therapist (especially in case of special medical care). Here is a file containing a summary of the information I've collected so far in the literature and the websites of various suppliers of pure essential oils (see references). This file is currently still being put in place and ever-greening.

Composition & Toxicity of HEComposition & Toxicity of HE (650.5 Ko)

(for access problem to the file, use this shortcut: or contact me :))

  This list is not exhaustive but should evolve over time and to my knowledge.

In general, the following toxic effects can be met by a patient, according to the composition of the essential oils used:

- The dermocausticity:

Where * These essential oils containing phenolic compounds, aldehyde and certain esters. During the use of these types of essential oils, it may appear on the irritation can sensitive or mucosa. It is preferable in this case to dilute these compounds in vegetable oil or other essential oils less aggressive (Ravintsara, Lavender officinalis, etc ...) in maximum levels of 10-20%.

- Allergies:

* All essential oils are succeptibles create skin inflammation or allergic reactions. In the case of particularly sensitive skin of allergic phenomena can occur simply due to the presence of monoterpenes. However, sesquiterpene lactones, cinnamaldehyde, phenylpropanoids and hydroperoxides are the main compounds responsible for the allergic phenomena which may obviously vary with the pitch of the patient (animal or human). If in doubt, a simple test to check the sensitivity of the person to the essential oil mixture to use. Just place 3 drops of the mixture into your elbow, wait approx. 1 hour to check the appearance or absence of inflammation (redness) or an allergic reaction.

- Hepatotoxicity:

* Phenolic essential oils (or phenolated) taken in large doses over an extended period and may alter the cells of the liver. If concentrated mixtures (> 20%), it is not advisable to apply for a period of over 10 days. For longer periods, it is better to apply more dilute doses. In many examples found in the literature, it is often observed that phenolic essential oils are used in synergy with hepato-regenerative oils (liver tonics) as Wild Rosemary greenland, Italian Helichrysum or Wintergreen, or as hépatotoniques peppermint, tropical basil, etc ... Examples of essential oils rich in phenolic derivatives: compact oregano (carvacrol), Winter savory (carvacrol), Thyme thymol (thymol).

- Nephrotoxicity:

* Oral absorption of essential oils rich in monoterpenes over long periods can inflame and damage the nephrons (functional units of the kidney). Some essential oils such as maritime pine (as is the case with most of the pines "Pinus sb"), the juniper berry, white sandalwood (Santalum album) and Lovage strongly stimulate the activity of nephrons and can cause kidney inflammation. So it is better, if known sensitivities of the kidneys, use them on short and under medical supervision.

- Neurotoxicity (eg generating cases of epilepsy)

* The ketones and lactones can be aggressive to nerve tissue and develop a variable toxicity depending on the ketone, the dose, the intake channel and dosage. This is the case of white cedar, the Hyssop officinalis, fragrant dill officinale of the Sage, etc ... For example, there is the risk of seizures at doses ranging from 35 to 70 drops taken once for adults with Artemisia, Parsley, officinale Hyssop or white cedar.

- Photosensitisation:

* Coumarins and furocoumarins are photosensitizing. Essential oils and essences that contain should not be used on the skin before sun exposure. Irritation of the skin may appear quickly can turn into severe burns. Citrus oils (mandarin, lemon, bergamot, citrus hitrix, etc ...) in particular contain much, just like other plants like Khella (Visnaga ammi), the archangel Angelica, La Grande Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium L.), etc ....

- The risks of abortion:

* Certain ketones, such as thujone, may prove to abortive dose dependent in part on the sensitivity of the patient. As a precaution, never prescribe, for example, Sage or Palmarosa to a pregnant woman. However, many references prefer, for reasons of safety, advise not to use essential oils in general, or in the case of pregnant or nursing women, or on very young children (<3 years).

In all cases, it is strongly advised to follow general precautions recommended by the sellers of essential oils or RECOMMENDED provided by therapists recognized:

precaution-he-2013.pdfprecaution-he-2013.pdf (908.92 Ko) 

Precaution for use in animals (see ref 7.)

  1) Do Not inject essential oils (pure or diluted) intravenously or intramuscularly.

  2) Never apply pure essential or diluted in the nostrils or eyes oils. If this happens, rinse thoroughly with warm water and apply a whitewash vegetable oil to dab the aggressiveness of essential oils.

  3) Never apply pure essential oils in the ears or anogenital areas.

  4) Never use milk to dilute essential oils before giving them to young animals.

  5) Never ingest essential oils ketone to a pregnant dog; it is the same with rich essential oils estragol in sclareol or other hormone-like molecules.

  6) Just like human, some animals may be allergic to essential oils, in which case one must be especially careful and selective in the choice of essential oils and how to apply.

  7) When carrying a friction based on essential oils, it is best to make sue an area to which the animal can not move to lick (neck, between the ears, neck, ...)

  8) Essential oils rich in phenols and aromatic aldehydes are dermocaustic. It is imperative to dilute 2-5% for application to the skin. This is important because the coat of the animal can temporarily hide the subsequent irritation at the application of dermocaustic oils.

  9) Do not leave a bottle of essential oil to reach children

  10) Always keep a bottle of essential oils tightly closed.

  11) Never implement a proposed protocol for a cat or dog to a baby, a toddler or a (an) teenager (e). Check for this reason there literature or experienced therapists.

  12) Always select essential oils and essences of the highest quality, which are 100% pure, natural and complete, and which are provided with a definition of their chemotype!