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Gas Chromatographs: A Basic Explanation
by Joie Power, PhD
Chromatographs (gas chromatography) show the relative amounts of the various organic components that make up essential oils. The primary types of components include:
In simple terms, when choosing an essential oil, one wants high therapeutic value and low toxicity. There are many different compounds within each of the major categories - altogether there are several hundred individual chemical substances that are found in essential oils. This makes it difficult to evaluate oils chemically. Even though a chromatograph may show only a few of the constituents of an oil, one still needs knowledge of many individual substances and their properties to read a chromatograph.
However, an illustration will show some of the basics: Below are two chromatographs (with reports) - one is for Lavender Provence and one is for Lavender Dalmatian. I prefer the Lavender Provence.
Here is why: A "good" Lavender contains a high proportion of esters and alcohols and a low proportion of camphor. The esters are especially prized in Lavender. "The constituents of different species differ in their content of the ester linalyl acetate due to altitude. If lavender is grown above 2,000 feet, the ester content is increased, producing a more valuable oil." - quoted from the textbook for Aromatherapy Certification of the Australasian College of Herbal Studies.
Both the Provence and Dalmatian Lavenders are high in Linalool - a terpenoid alcohol that is low in toxicity and has good antiviral and antibacterial properties. Both are also low in camphor, which is a ketone and therefore a strong irritant. However even a quick glance at the charts shows that the Lavender from Provence is MUCH higher in Linalyl Acetate, an ester which is very low in toxicity and is highly valued for it's therapeutic effects. It is Linalyl Acetate which gives Lavender its' famous calming properties. Therefore, while either of these lavenders will have good antiviral and antibacterial properties, the Lavender Provence has outstanding calming and antispasmodic properties whereas the Lavender Dalmatian will have a less calming effect.
The Lavender Provence used by Artisan Aromatics costs the company considerably more than the Lavender Dalmatian but we feel that the very superior quality of the Lavender Provence is worth the extra cost.
Lavender Provence (organic)
GC-MS Analysis Report
Notes: MS/LB CB5 50m 1.2u 40(5)>250@10 10m/m spli 10psi inj 220 - 1.2x10-6 - 10mg in 1ml DCM 1ul inj
GC-MS Analysis Report
Notes: MS/LB CB5 50m 1.2u 40(4)>250@10 30m/m spli 15psi inj 250 - 1.2x10-6 16.3mg
*This information is provided for educational interest and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
Copyright © 2010 Joie Power, Ph.D. / The Aromatherapy School | All Rights Reserved
This article, "Gas Chromatography: A Simple Explanation" was originally published for Dreaming Earth Botanicals, LLC
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About the Author
Dr. Joie Power is a retired board-certified neuropsychologist. She is a former Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia and has over twenty years of clinical experience in both in- and out-patient settings. Her extensive studies in aromatherapy and other alternative methods have included studies with Dr. Jane Buckle, Dr. Janet Merrill and Patricia Kyritsi Howell. As an undergraduate major in Anthropology she became interested in the healing practices of other cultures and throughout her subsequent professional career she has been dedicated to combining the technology of modern medicine with the healing wisdom of traditional cultures. Her approach to aromatherapy weaves together solid scientific training and extensive clinical skills with a holistic approach that honors body, mind and spirit.
Dr. Power is the owner and director of The Aromatherapy School which specializes in providing in-depth training in the science and art of aromatherapy specifically for healthcare professionals such as nurses, massage therapists, holistic physicians, psychotherapists and others. The Aromatherapy School provides three sequential levels of instruction leading to a Certificate in Clinical Aromatherapy; while the courses are open to anyone with an interest in studying aromatherapy; full clinical certification is awarded only to licensed healthcare professionals. More information on the school and its offerings can be found at www.Aromatherapy-School.com.
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