4 Unknown Beneficial Compounds in Essential Oils

Photo by Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

Essential oils in aromatherapy have increased in use and popularity over recent years. They provide a great, more natural option for therapeutic and health purposes.

Essential oils are taken from plants, but what are in those plants that make it so beneficial?

Plants contain various compounds called phytochemicals or phytonutrients that all work together to make up its beneficial properties. Keep reading to discover more about the components that make essential oils so therapeutic!


Geraniol occurs in the essential oils of several plants including citronella, geranium, thyme, lemon, basil, palmarosa, coriander, and rose.

Geraniol has anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties. Inhaling rose oil has been shown to decrease pain in patients and stimulate the brain to release endorphins. Lemon oil cleanses and deodorizes. Citronella oil has been used to treat rashes, infections, wounds, and other conditions.


Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the taste and smell of cinnamon and is in the essential oil in the bark of cinnamon trees. It helps benefit metabolism and can combat tooth decay and bad breath. It also has antifungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antidiabetic properties.


Limonene is a common terpene that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-stress, and disease-preventing properties. It is often used in aromatic oil for its calming and therapeutic effects, reducing stress and anxiety.

Limonene is a component in orange essential oil and other citrus fruits including lemons and limes. It has anti-cancer and antioxidant activity. One study found that it inhibits growth and promotes the death of colon cancer cells.

It may also help fight inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major cause of illness, especially the condition osteoarthritis. Limonene can benefit heart health too by lowering cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels.


Linalool is in thyme, mint, basil, lemon, ginger, sage, cinnamon, rosemary, lavender, and other plants. Linalool is a monoterpenoid alcohol that has antianxiety, calming, analgesic, and dopaminergic effects.

One study by Kagoshima University found that smelling linalool has calming effects that relieve preoperative stress and anxiety disorders.

Oils containing linalool are often used in aromatherapy because the plants have been shown to decrease anxiety and promote relaxation. They have also been shown to decrease sleep disturbance and lengthen total sleep time.

Thyme essential oil has been proven to inhibit Shigella sp., displaying antimicrobial activity.


Essential oils are beneficial and used in aromatherapy due to the many plant compounds they contain. Some common ones include geraniol, cinnamaldehyde, limonene, and linalool. These have calming effects as well as act as antioxidants or fight inflammation and infections.

There are many essential oil companies out there, some better than others. The best essential oils are natural and not synthetically created. If you use essential oils, try to get the purest form you can and avoid ones with many additives. You can even make your own at home!



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