Essential Oil Chemistry: Oils High in 1,8 cineole

by Andrea on August 2, 2009

26 dropWhen we study how to use the oils therapeutically, it’s important to consider essential oil chemistry.

Essential oils are made up of hundreds of natural chemical components.  These components are an important part of the essential oil’s therapeutic action.

Understanding the chemical components helps us understand how the essential oil might work therapeutically.

There are many incredible benefits essential oils offer us–the aroma, the energy of the oil and plant, the plant part the oil comes from, the plant family…and the chemistry. Developing a deeper knowledge of essential oil chemistry is one way to expand our understanding of aromatherapy.

A great way to check the purity of each batch of oil, and to more deeply understand the therapeutic properties and safety of an essential oil, is by buying essential oils tested with Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS).

Gas Chromatography (GC) is a method of separating the volatile compounds in essential oils into individual components, and producing a linear graph that charts them.

Mass Spectrometry (MS) identifies each of these components and their percentages.

essential oil chemistry

GC/MS is used to identify everything in the oil. We can learn a lot about the oil’s therapeutic properties and safety issues, and we can see any crude adulteration (if an oil is cut with a synthetic chemical or cheaper oil for financial gain). Adulterated oils and perfume oils don’t offer therapeutic effects, and may in fact cause allergies, headaches and chemical sensitivities.

The precise breakdown of chemical components laid out by a GC/MS report is important, as the therapeutic benefits and safety issues of essential oils are, in part, determined by essential oil chemistry. Testing every batch of oil purchased with GC/MS technology checks the purity and provides a breakdown of the chemical components in each oil. This process is helpful for medicinal blending and for quality assurance.

essential oil chemistry

One component that has caught my attention over the years is 1,8 cineole. These are a few essential oils high in 1,8 cineole:

  • Eucalyptus globulus and radiata
  • Helichrysum gymnocephalum
  • Niaouli ct. 1,8 cineole
  • Saro (picture below)
  • Laurel Leaf
  • Ravintsara

essential oil chemistry

Reading these reports is a powerful way to understand the essential oils. You learn this approach in the online Aromatherapy Certification Program at Aromahead Institute.

1,8 cineole is a remarkable chemical component offering strong therapeutic properties that have been well researched. It has strong healing potential. Listed below are the various properties of 1,8 cineole (and the oils that have a significant percentage of 1,8 cineole in them). Next to the therapeutic property, I have a number that refers to the referenced material where this information comes from.

These properties suggest that using these oils during a cold or flu would help reduce pain, mucus and headaches. They also help kill bacteria and viruses. They can reduce swelling (great for sinus infections), muscle spasms, and spastic coughing.

I could not imagine life without these oils! If you are new to essential oils and want to learn how to blend them into a carrier, we have a free online aromatherapy class at Aromahead Institute.

Therapeutic Properties of 1,8 cineole:

  • airborne antimicrobial 1
  • analgesic 2, 3
  • anti-inflammatory  2, 6, 7, 8
  • antibacterial 4, 5
  • antioxidant 21
  • antispasmodic 9, 10, 11
  • antiviral 18
  • hypotensive 13, 14
  • increases cerebral blood flow 22
  • mucolytic 15, 16

Oils high in 1,8 cineole are to be used for inhalation and on the skin diluted in a carrier oil, butter or cream. Use 1,8 cineole-high oils with caution for those with asthma (make sure the aroma relaxes their chest and does not cause any sense of restriction). Use 1,8 cineole-high oils cautiously with children under ten years old (I prefer to use a milder oil like Cedarwood – Cedrus atlantica).


  1. Sato K, Krist S, Buchbauer G (2007) Antimicrobial effect of vapours of geraniol, (R)-(-)-linalool, terpineol, gamma-terpinene and 1,8-cineole on airborne microbes using an airwasher. Flavour & Fragrance Journal 22:435-43
  2. Santos FA, Rao VS (2000) Antiinflammatory and antinociceptive effects of 1,8-cineole a terpenoid oxide present in many plant essential oils. Phytotherapy Research 14:240-244
  3. Liapi C, Anifandis G, Chinou I et al (2007) Antinociceptive properties of 1,8-cineole and beta-pinene, from the essential oil of Eucalyptus camaldulensis leaves, in rodents. Planta Medica 73:1247-1254
  4. Pattnaik S, Subramanyam VR, Bapaji M et al (1997) Antibacterial and antifungal activity of aromatic constituents of essential oils. Microbios 89:39-46
  5. Carson CF, Mee BJ, Riley TV (2002) Mechanism of action of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on Staphylococcus aureus determined by time-kill, lysis, leakage, and salt tolerance assays and electron microscopy. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 46:1914-1920
  6. Juergens UR, Dethlefsen U, Steinkamp G et al (2003) Anti-inflammatoryactivity of 1,8 cineole (eucalpytol) in bronchial asthma: a double blind, placebo controlled trial. Respiratory Medicine 97:250-256
  7. Juergens UR, Engelen T, Racke K (2004) Inhibitory activity of 1,8-cineol (eucalyptol) on cytokine production in cultured human lymphocytes and monocytes. Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 17:281-287
  8. Santos FA, Silva RM, Campos AR et al (2004) 1,8-Cineole (eucalyptol), a monoterpene oxide attenuates the colonic damage in rats on acute TNBS-colitis. Food & Chemical Toxicology 42:579-584
  9. Nascimento NR, Refosco RM, Vasconcelos EC (2009) 1,8-Cineole induces relaxation in rat and guinea-pig airway smooth muscle. Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacology 61:361-366
  10. Coelho-de-Souza LN, Leal-Cardoso JH, De Abreu Matos FJ et al (2005) Relaxant effects of the essential oil of Eucalyptus tereticornis and its main constituent 1,8-cineole on guinea-pig tracheal smooth muscle. Planta Medica 71:1173-1175
  11. Bastos VP, Brito TS, Lima FJ et al (2009) Inhibitory effect of 1,8-cineole on guinea-pig airway challenged with ovalbumin involves a preferential action on electromechanical coupling. Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology 36:1120-1126
  12. Kako H, Fukumoto S, Kobayashi Y et al (2008) Effects of direct exposure of green odour components on dopamine release from rat brain striatal slices and PC12 cells. Brain Research Bulletin 75:706-712
  13. Lahlou S, Figueiredo AF, Magalhaes PJ et al (2002) Cardiovascular effects of 1,8 cineole, a terpenoid oxide present in many plant essential oils, in normotensive rats. Canadian Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology 80:1125-1131
  14. Pinto NV, Assreuy AM, Coelho-de-Souza AN et al (2009) Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxant effects of the essential oil from aerial parts ofAlpinia zerumbet and its main constituent 1,8-cineole in rats. Phytomedicine 16:1151-1155
  15. Kehrl W, Sonnemann U, Dethlefsen U (2004) Therapy for acute nonpurulent rhinosinusitis with cineole: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. 114:738-742
  16. Tesche S, Metternich F, Sonnemann U et al (2008) The value of herbal medicines in the treatment of acute non-purulent rhinosinusitis. Results of a double-blind, randomised, controlled trial. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology 265:1355-1359
  17. Worth H, Schacher C, Dethlefsen U (2009) Concomitant therapy with Cineole (Eucalyptole) reduces exacerbations in COPD: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial. Respiratory Research 10:6
  18. Astani A, Reichling J, Schnitzler P. (2010) Comparative study on the antiviral activity of selected monoterpenes derived from essential oils. Phytotherapy Research 24(5):673-679
  19. Matthys H, de Mey C, Carls C et al  (2000) Efficacy and tolerability of myrtol standardized in acute bronchitis. A multi-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel group clinical trial vs. cefuroxime and ambroxol. Arzneimittelforschung 50:700-711 
  20. Meister R, Wittig T, Beuscher N, et al (1999) Efficacy and tolerability of myrtol standardized in long-term treatment of chronic bronchitis. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Study Group Investigators. Arzneimittelforschung 49:351-358
  21. Saito Y, Shiga A, Yoshida Y et al (2004) Effects of a novel gaseous antioxidative system containing a rosemary extract on the oxidation induced by nitrogen dioxide and ultraviolet radiation. Bioscience Biotechnology & Biochemistry 68:781-786
  22. Nasel C, Nasel B, Samec P, Schindler E et al (1994) Functional imaging of effects of fragrances on the human brain after prolonged inhalation. Chemcial Senses 19(4):359-364


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Owner/Instructor at Aromahead Institute
Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan April 10, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Hi there, Do wintergreen and/or peppermint contain 1,8 cineole? Thanks in advance.


Andrea Butje April 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Hi Megan – No, Wintergreen and Peppermint do not contain any 1,8 cineole. Wintergreen is high in methyl salicylate, and Peppermint is high in menthol. 🙂

Reply February 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm

I suffered from arthritis and many body aches, and began to make use of sucupira oil, and in a few weeks the pain disappeared, yes it’s true oils have properties that cured .. great article!


Andrea Butje February 12, 2015 at 10:45 am

Thanks so much! I love to hear about the healing powers of essential oils 🙂


Loree Carleo October 26, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Thanks. Thanks for writing this. Its always great to see someone give back to the world.


Sarah Mortimer August 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Thanks for the informative post. I think the chemistry of essential oils should be discussed more in depth in aromatherapy training courses as it gives people a better understanding of how the oils work and why they are good for certain ailments. 1,8 cineole is also known as eucalyptol and is a very therapeutic natural compound – without it there would be a lot of people wandering around with blocked up noses!


lauren August 4, 2009 at 9:02 am


My former husband was allergic to cats, itchy eyes throat,the works. I rubbed cammomile oil in jojoba on his back every day for a couple of weeks and his allergies went away.

Was it the cammoile or just the love attention?

A story to add to your files.

Thanks for your work, Lauren


Admin August 4, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Maybe both?!


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