Oxides are cyclic ethers that are usually made from a monoterpenols or sesquiterpenols (alcohols). In most cases, the word 'oxide' is added to the monoterpenol or sesquiterpenol name. The oxides found in Essential Oils are Bisabolol oxide, Bisabolone oxide, Caryophyllene oxide, Linalool oxide, Pinene oxide, Sclareol oxide, and 1,8-Cineole. [You'll notice the 1,8-Cineole (aka Cineole) doesn't use the word 'oxide' -- it's an exception to the rule.]
Oils with high levels of oxides are, perhaps, best known for breathing. They break up excess mucus in the sinuses and lungs and help get rid of it (decongestant and expectorant). You've probably already experienced this effect with the 1,8-Cineole in Eucalyptus. If you've ever had a cold or the flu, you may have used an OTC product containing Eucalyptus and gotten temporary relief from congestion and been able to breathe more easily. You may have even recovered a bit more quickly, because oxides generally have antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Did you know that essential oils that are oxide-rich can also help you focus and be more alert? This effect goes hand-in-hand with breathing. These oils may help improve circulation which means more blood and oxygen are available to your brain when you inhale them.
There are some precautions to take into account when using essential oils with oxide content. Do not use these oils with children under the age of 10, or on or near their faces -- oxides can slow down the central nervous system and/or breathing in young children. Do not use if you are allergic to oxides. If you have asthma, test a very small amount first. While they may help open the airways in the presence of asthma, they have the potential to exacerbate the condition. When using oxide-rich oils topically, limit them to a 2% maximum dilution to avoid potential skin irritation.
The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.