Scientific Aromatherapy

A new branch of modern aromatherapy, which we can define as scientific, is becoming established in the light of the most up-to-date studies on the use of essential oils as unrivalled aids to solving many specific problems. 100% pure essential oils are increasingly proving to be indispensable for a targeted approach to common everyday problems, both in the human and veterinary field. In this sense, it is essential to approach aromatherapy with a new scientific method, using the most state of the art instrumentation to identify the known phytocomplex and chemotype, for a global assessment of the characteristics of the specific essential oil, and its correct and rational use in the health field. This, means not only research of ‘essential oils as food and cosmetic flavorings,’ but also supplements to the most common needs, in support of a new medicine that is no longer alternative but integrated.

Dr Prof. Paolo Campagna

Surgeon, Lecturer in the Postgraduate Course in Phytotherapy at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy, and President of SIROE

From holistic wellness to scientific aromatherapy

Modern studies have led to 100% pure essential oils to be considered as remedies in a branch that we can call aromatherapy or aromatic medicine. This is due to more in-depth investigation of these chemical complexes which are derived from plant drugs, and then transformed by man using various techniques. Essential oils are becoming an indispensable cornerstone for a rational and scientific approach in the practice of complementary and/or integrative human and veterinary medicine, and for the formulation of products aimed at overall well-being.

It is well established that essential oils, which were very often catalogued as substances with a pleasant fragrance and particular aromatic notes, are actually complex biochemical mixtures containing hundreds of different substances (monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, phenols, alcohols, aldehydes, oxides, ketones, ethers, esters, etc.). These substances have important pharmacological properties, but also a certain degree of toxicity. Today they cannot and must not, under any circumstances, be confused with unspecified 'essences' consisting, most likely, of isolated chemical substances of natural or synthetic origin whose scent is only reminiscent of that of real essential oil.

The extraordinary power, diffusibility and penetration of essential oils and their marked lipophilicity, if conveyed by suitable pharmacological means, has long since consolidated their external application. This potency takes on a distinct meaning of its own making it possible, among other benefits, to derive considerable benefits from some essential oils that would be difficult to ingest (due to toxicity or causticity). These days the medical use of pure essential oils which are safely and biologically sourced is rationally employed in many situations, and can be effectively used to encourage:

  • respiratory tract function, as well as the well-being of the nose and throat, oropharyngeal mucosa, and the tone of the voice
  • the fluidity of bronchial secretions
  • digestive function and gastrointestinal mobility
  • elimination of intestinal gas
  • regularity of intestinal transit
  • carbohydrate metabolism
  • relaxation (sleep, in cases of stress) and regulation of mood
  • hepatobiliary function
  • drainage of body fluids

Essential oils are also very effective due to their strong action as:

  • antioxidants
  • balsams
  • emollient and soothing

The use of these precious essential oils can also be proposed as a supplement to conventional medical therapy. In this context, certain chemotyped essential oils can be used, i.e. identified by certain components that are more present and considered more active in the phytocomplex, thanks to basic methods such as gas chromatography, and mass spectrometry that can guide their specific application.

However, modern scientific and rational aromatherapy cannot fail to take into account parameters such as the qualitative and quantitative aromatogram, which shows us inhibition halos, and precise sensitivity data in the laboratory. We must also take into account any hypersensitivity of the patient's skin and general health to an essential oil, and never overlook their low therapeutic index (the interval between the beneficial and toxic effects), which means they can only be used after careful evaluation and experience, especially if taken orally.

Dr Prof. Paolo Campagna

Surgeon, Lecturer in the Postgraduate Course in Phytotherapy at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy, and President of SIROE 

What does chemotyped essential oil mean?

Not all essential oils are the same, even if they come from the same plant grown in the same place. Depending on the biotype (weather, soil, altitude, irrigation, stress) the same plant can produce chemically different essential oils. It is essential for a therapist to have a thorough knowledge of the chemical constituents present in the phytocomplex and of those, which are prevalent.

Within the same botanical species, this chemical variation allows us to precisely define the nature of the species, subspecies and varieties of aromatic plants. This chemical variation generates the notion of chemotype, or chemical race. An important notion for the conscious application of scientific aromatherapy. It is therefore important to remember that different chemotypes mean different properties.

Example of a chemotype for thyme: The following essential oils are all extracted from the thyme plant (Thymus vulgaris), but have different biochemical characteristics that correspond to different properties:

  • Thymus vulgaris thymol chemotype 
  • Thymus vulgaris linalool chemotype 
  • Thymus vulgaris thujanol chemotype
  •  Thymus vulgaris cineole chemotype 
  • Thymus vulgaris carvacrol chemotype 
  • Thymus vulgaris para-cymene chemotype 
  • Thymus vulgaris geraniol chemotype 
  •  Thymus vulgaris terpineol chemotype 

Dr. Prof. Paolo Campagna

Surgeon, Lecturer in the Postgraduate Course in Phytotherapy at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy, and President of SIROE

Use and precautions of essential oils

Essential oils are very active substances with innumerable properties but, as with any other natural or biologically derived substance, they must be used intelligently and rationally, with clinical and pharmacological experience and the utmost caution. They are extremely concentrated oils and, if used inappropriately or ingested without a doctor's prescription, they can cause problems, especially in pregnancy, breastfeeding, pediatrics and particularly in people with serious kidney, liver or neurological disorders.

What is an Essential Oil chemotype?

Not all essential oils coming from the same plant are the same. Depending on biotype (climate, soil, altitude, irrigation, stress) the same plant can produce chemically different essential oils. It is fundamental for a therapist to have an in-depth knowledge of the chemical constituents of the phytocomplex and the prevailing ones.
This chemical variation allows us define precisely the nature of the specie, the subspecie  and the variety of aromatic plants in the same botanic specie. This chemical variation creates the notion of: chemotype or chemical race. An important notion for the conscious implementation  of scientific Aromatherapy. It is important to remember that different chemotypes mean different properties.

Example of thyme chemotype: the following essential oils are all extracted from thyme (Thymus vulgaris) but present different biochemical characteristics that correspond to different properties.
•    Thymus vulgaris thymol chemotype better antinfective properties
•    Thymus vulgaris linalool chemotype antibacterial, antimycotic (dermatitis , herpes),  viricide, parasiticidal properties.
•    Thymus vulgaris thujanol chemotype neurotic and antimicrobial properties
•    Thymus vulgaris cineol chemotype decongestive, antiviral, bronchopulmonary properties
•    Thymus vulgaris carvacrol chemotype better antimicrobial properties (and anti- inflammatory)
•    Thymus vulgaris paracymen chemotype antalgic properties, to use in case of arthritis
•    Thymus vulgaris geraniol chemotype antibacterial, antimycotic, antiviral properties
•    Thymus vulgaris terpineol chemotype antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Dr. Professor Paolo Campagna
MD, Professor in the Course of Specialization in Phytotherapy at the Tuscia University in Viterbo, SIROE PRESIDENT

Use and precautions of essential oils

Essential oils are active substances with numerous properties but, as with any other natural or organic substance, they must be used with intelligence and rationality, clinical and pharmacological experience and extreme carefulness. They are indeed extremely concentered oils and, if used improperly or taken without a medical prescription, can cause problems especially during pregnancy, breastfeeding, with children and subjects suffering from kidney, hepatic or neurological diseases.

Product added to wishlist