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The science behind essential oils



2 are essential oils ?

A variety of plants cover the Earth in different shapes , sizes , colors , and scents . Each of these plants contains compounds that typically can ’ t be seen with the naked eye — they hide within the roots , flowers , seeds , bark , or other areas of the plant . These compounds are known as essential oils . They are highly concentrated , making them extremely potent . Also referred to as volatile aromatic compounds , essential oils give a plant its aroma , protect it from harsh environmental conditions and insects , and even play a part in plant pollination .

The science behind essential oils

When you hear the word “ volatile ,” you may think it holds a negative connotation ; however , in the case of essential oils , volatility refers to a substance ’ s ability to change its state quickly . The chemical makeup of volatile aromatic compounds in essential oils allow them to disperse quickly through the air . This is why you can instantly smell the potent aroma of an essential oil from the moment you open the bottle — even from a distance .
As volatile aromatic compounds move quickly through the air , the essential oil user will experience the scent when the compounds interact directly with the brain ’ s olfactory sensors . ( You ’ ll learn more about how essential oils interact with the brain in chapters two and three ).
With over 3,000 types of volatile aromatic compounds discovered so far , it is important to note that these compounds greatly determine the benefit , aroma , and nature of each essential oil . Because of unique chemical makeup , each essential oil will vary from species to species , and even from plant to plant .
Volatile Aromatic Compounds : Tiny , organic molecules that are known to quickly transform from their liquid or solid state into a gas when they reach room temperature .


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As we inhale the distinct aroma of an essential oil , the scent is processed through the olfactory system in the brain . The brain ’ s olfactory system is responsible for controlling the sense of smell .