Pharmacognosy - medicinal plants (herbs)
Pharmacognosy - medicinal plants (herbs)

Theme IX: Essential oils

Essential oils

Essential oils of plants. Definition and characteristics. Composition. Volatile Oils. Hydrocarbons, alcohols, acids, esters, aldehydes, ketones, phenols.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils

Essential oils are the compounds responsible for flavor and smell of plants containing them. Some are made of a volatile liquid fraction and a solid one, as in the case of camphor, menthol and thymol.

 

Essential oils or volatile oils can be found in the organs and tissues of many plants. In some places are called improperly "essences", contrasting the term of the alcoholic solutions of these oils.

 

Essential oils are composed of various organic compounds among which are: Hydrocarbons, alcohols, acids, esters, aldehydes, ketones, enols, and various sulfur and nitrogen compounds.

 

Essential oils are practically insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol and in the most commonly used organic solvents, which allows making pharmaceutical formulations for external use mainly: liniments, essences and odorous cosmetics products. In food products are also used for flavoring.

Terpenes are the most important hydrocarbons. To see their characteristics go to:

 

TERPENES

 

Essential oils have various therapeutic properties. To see some of them go to:

 

Properties of essential oils

 

To see plants which contain essential oils with great medicinal properties go to:

 

Examples of plants with beneficial essential oils

see also

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Essential oils of plants. Definition and characteristics. Composition. Volatile Oils. Hydrocarbons, alcohols, acids, esters, aldehydes, ketones, phenols.