If you want to understand the properties and uses of a new oil, a basic grasp of essential oil chemistry can be enormously helpful.
However even trained aromatherapists sometimes find this topic daunting and confusing. Diagrams of moleculecular structures (which is often how it is taught) are, after all, not necessarily a natural teaching tool for someone who specialises in touch and healing!
I have been training with Malte Hozzel for a number of years and I’d like to share his perspective, which I have found particularly helpful, on a particular chemical group called ketones. You can see a video about ketones here.
Ketones are frequently seen as the ‘bad boys’ of aromatherapy chemistry, and are considered toxic, and in some cases neurotoxic. It is true that in high doses they can attack the myelin sheath of the nervous system, but this should not prevent us from using them with caution, understanding and appreciation for the many miraculous qualities they have.
Malte explains that we can think of ketones as having a tendency to ‘attack everything that is fat, earthy, and matter’, and in this regard we can see them as ‘dis-incarnators’ and in some sense ‘anti-matter’. This is what gives them their mucolytic quality (they dissolve mucous so can be used for inhalation in a coughing fit), but it is also why you would never use them in situations where the energetic theme is of ‘incarnation’ — generating matter. For example essential oils containing high concentrations of ketones are not to be used with pregnant women or young babies.
Ketones have powerful energies which are considered the highest frequency vibrations in aromatherapy. They are miracles of nature. If you practise meditation or yoga you may find that essential oils containing ketones are very helpful in allowing your attention to be more on the spiritual side of life. It has been found that fasting increases the concentration of ketones in the body, and that this concentration also increases with age. It is noteworthy too that Jesus was given hyssop on the Cross, perhaps to give him support to release his body.
Ketones occur as major consituents in a few oils and as minor constituents in many. Examples of oils which are high in ketones include Hyssop, Sage, Artemesia (Wormwood), Thuya, Dill, Camphor, Sweet Fennel, Peppermint and Pennyroyal.
Ketonic plants generally smell fresh and have a very bitter taste. They are great for purifying the atmosphere (Camphor is commonly burned in India during purification ceremonies) and for removing material attachment. Although they are very powerful, ketonic oils are generally not skin irritant.
As with all aromatherapy you have to know a little about the basics. But with a bit of understanding it is possible to gain huge benefit from plants that express the wonderful ketonic vibration of nature.
Malte explains that Ketones are energy givers and uplifting. They have ‘high vibration’ and perhaps we can understand them as ‘disincarnators’.