Music to My Nose
03/25/16 Filed in: Aromatherapy 101
I just thought that I would share something that fascinated me when I first started studying essential oils. It was the fact that the aroma of each oil is classified by note. Some actually have 2 notes, but one will be prominent. The notes are called top, middle, and base. Pretty basic, but what that means is very interesting.
An essential oil which is classified as a top note has smaller molecules, absorbs into the skin faster, and also loses its scent faster. Examples of oils that are top notes include most of the citruses: orange, grapefruit (my all time favorite), lemon, etc. They are the "go to oils" if you are feeling blue, especially pink grapefruit which is my absolute favorite and of all the citruses is the most effective for depression. Using these citrus oils in your body lotion will also make it much more likely for you to get a bad sunburn or develop dark spots as they have phototoxic properties, so take care not to use them when you are going to be out in the sun.
Next up are the middle notes. These would have a slightly larger molecule. It seems that a large number of essential oils fall under the category of middle notes, although they are often a combination of top-middle or middle-base. These oils are often used for pain and mood stabilization. Ginger would be an example of a simple middle note and is often used for pain, due to its analgesic and antispasmodic properties.
An example of a top-middle note would be Rosemary which is also helpful for pain because of the analgesic and anti rheumatic properties.
An example of a middle-base note would be German Chamomile which is one of my favorite oils in my pain blends for the same properties - analgesic, antispasmodic, and wound healing properties.
Lastly are the base notes. I am sure that you can tell by the name that they would be grounding and have a rather large molecule and the aroma would be quite lasting. The queen in this area is Vetiver which is known as the "oil of tranquility".
Patchouli is also a base note and has the special property of getting better with age if stored in a cool, dark place. Just about every other oil (especially the citruses) has a shorter shelf life.