Frequently Asked Questions
There is the phenomena of quenching whereby the potential unwanted results of one component in an essential oil are cancelled out by the natural presence of other components. In other words, a “hazardous” component does not automatically render the whole essential oil unsafe. This shows the importance of using the natural synergistic composition of whole oils rather than isolates. The concept of quenching is also used in blending oils.
As presented in Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Eucalyptus globulus and E. smithii (another type of eucalyptus) both contain approximately 65% of 1,8-cineole which although greatly effective for infection, is also a skin irritant. Yet because of the quenching aspects of components in E. smithii, it is not irritating to the skin and safe enough to be used on children whereas Eucalyptus globules is a skin irritant. An example using the quenching phenomena in blending would be to combine oil of oregano with lavender. Alone oregano oil is very hot and caustic. Combined with lavender, it can be used as a non-irritating highly effective fungicide that does not burn.
For the most part, you will find that essential oils do not cause as many side effects as prescriptions drugs.
The alternate view of the quenching phenomenon is that of synergy whereby isolates alone could be deemed ineffective yet pack a punch as they exist in combination with other components in a whole oil. By example, components from Eucalytus citriodora showed that they were relatively inactive. However, a combination of the three major components in the same ratio found in the natural oil produced a fourfold increase in antimicrobial activity. In a nutshell, the effect of synergy takes place so that when two or more components are put together, the end result is of greater activity than the individual components. Both synergy and quenching principles apply to using whole oils together to create blends.