Constituent- Aromatherapy Terms

When reading about essential oils you may see the term “constituent”. What do we mean when we talk about the constituents of essential oils?


The dictionary defines a constituent as “a component part of a whole”. So an essential oil constituent is one of the biologically active chemicals that make up an essential oil.

Let’s use our Copaiba essential oil as an example. Referring to the book “Essential Oils Safety” by Tisserand & Young we find that the key constituents of Copaiba essential oil are:

  • B-Caryophyllene
  • Germacrene
  • B-Selinene
  • a-Caryophyllene
  • y-Elemene
  • a-Selinene
  • B-Elemene
  • y-Muurolene
  • Cubebene
  • B-Cardinene
  • a-Guaiene
  • Germacrene D

Each one of these bioactive chemical molecules has a different effect on the body. For our example of Copaiba essential oil, the important constituents when looking at its ability to relieve pain are the sesquiterpenes alpha and beta Caryophyllene.

These constituents make up approximately 60% of all the constituents in the Copaiba essential oil. It is the constituent that binds with the CB2 receptors of the body and provides the pain relief and other effects of the Copaiba essential oil.

As you can see, there are many other constituents to an essential oil. Each essential oil has different constituents. The different constituents are responsible for the effects of the different essential oils.

For example, Lavender has as its main constituents Linalyl acetate and Linalool. These two chemicals are responsible for the relaxing and calming effects of Lavender essential oil, as well as the anti-inflammatory effects.

So as you can see, the constituents of essential oils tell us what they may be effective for in the body. By studying the constituent components of essential oils, scientists have been able to map out the effects of the chemicals present in each essential oil.

Obviously more human studies need to be done to prove the effectiveness of the chemical constituents of essential oils.

Now you know what constituents of essential oils are and why knowing which are present in each oil is important.

When we look at an essential oil for a particular use, it helps to know which chemical constituents are present in the oil. This allows us to make a judgment whether a particular essential oil is right for our needs.

So the next time you read about essential oil constituents you’ll know what is being discussed.

Also, if you want to purchase 100% all natural essential oils please take a look at what we offer in our online shop.