A chemical family refers to a set of chemicals that have specific traits in common in their molecular structure. This similarity in molecular structure means the chemicals will usually have similar therapeutic properties and precautions.
Molecules in the monoterpene chemical family contain only 10 carbon atoms and a varying number of hydrogen atoms. Chemicals within this family include (but are not limited to) alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, camphene, limonene, phellandrene, terpinene, and terpinolene.
Many essential oils with high levels of monoterpenes tend to be antibacterial and antiviral. As such, they are good for diffusing during cold and flu season and for using in soapmaking.
Monoterpenes in general are also anti-inflammatory. Some have a warming effect which can help soothe pain. This makes these appropriate choices for after-exercise topical blends.
Energetically, oils rich in monoterpenes can lift the spirit and encourage energy. Think about citrus oils like lemon, orange, and lime -- these are monoterpene-rich oils. How do they make you feel? Happy? Full of energy?
When using monoterpene-rich essential oils, it's important to store them properly (in a cool, dark space) as they oxidize (spoil) easily. When oxidized, they may irritate the skin or cause sensitization.
The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.