Hydrosols

New Era Flower Waters

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Chemotypes

We are dealing with the therapeutic properties of Hydrosols, we must be as specific as possible concerning the origins of the waters. When it comes to the subject of chemotypes, there is still much confusion and misunderstanding in aromatherapy circles. I have seen articles printed in the journals of reputable organizations that completely confused chemotypes and functional groups) the chemical groups in essential oils and hydrosols), which is really a shame because this promotes confusion, not education and growth. 

A chemotype (CT) occurs when a plant of a specific genus and species produces a particular chemical in a higher than normal amount because of geographic location, weather, altitude, insect and environmental interactions, and the like.

A chemotype is not a different species or genus, nor is it a type of chemical; it is merely a chemical anomaly within the plant that occurs naturally. A case in point is thyme, specifically the genus Thymus and the species vulgaris. Thyme produces at least six different recognized chemotypes.


At least four of these are available from good aromatherapy suppliers to red thyme and white thyme, indicating those that are potentially democaustic, red, versus those that are not democaustic, white. This may be of some help to the practitioner, but it is not the whole story. Red thyme could be thyme CT carvacrol of thyme CT thymol, while white thyme could be thyme CT linalol or thyme CT geraniol.

Thyme CT thuyanol contains an alcohol (alchols are a functional group) that has as much "killing power" as a phenol (another functional group). It could, therefore, be considered red thyme by some, but others might consider it white thyme, since thuyanol causes no dermocausticity even undiluted but is strong enough for the most nasty infection. 

Then there is thyme CT paracymene, a monoterpene chemotype (monoterpenes are a functional group) that one would probably consider white thyme, since monoterpenes are not particularly dermocaustic unless oxidized. However, thyme CT paracymene may cause skin irritations in sensitive people, and therefore it might just as easily be labelled red thyme. Thus, to refer to thyme in simplistic terms can only increase confusion and a fear of using the oil. This is not healing.


In understanding the complexity, using thyme becomes easier. By being specific, the user can choose the most effective treatment and remove a good part of the guesswork. So, a fungal infection on the skin could be successfully treated with an alcohol chemotype like thyme CT linalol, while a chronic condition of this type may respond better to a stronger phenol chemotype.

As this is a dermal infection requiring topical applications, you could use thyme CT thymol but only in low dilution owing to its dermocausticity, or you should turn to the unique thyme CT thuyanol, since it is not irritating to the skin but acts like phenol. A blend to treat this kind of condition could contain both thyme CT linalol and thyme CT thuyanol for maximum efficacy.

I refer to separate chemotypes of hydrosols so that the users of this book can look for the best possible choice from the many options available. Also, it is the sign of good distillers and/or suppliers that they offer chemotype-specific hydrosols. In all likelihood, this means they are producing aromatics specifically for aromatherapy purposes only.

Reference: Hydrosols The Next Aromatherapy: Suzanne Catty

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