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Refreshing Chemistry Part 2 - Essential Oil Chemical Families

This 12 session course takes you through the chemical families found in essential oils, starting with their carbon skeletons, and sequentially adding on, and modifying different functional groups. Dr Joy shows you how the different chemical families are related to one another, and how essential oils depend on the different types of molecules for their therapeutic function in the body. If you loved Dr Joy's book "The Chemistry of Aromatherapeutic Oils", you will love this course, because it goes into more dynamic detail, with Dr Joy's explanations and quirky humour helping the facts stick in your mind.

The course will give you a basis for understanding what the different functional groups are, and the properties they confer on the molecules they are attached to. Course topics include:

  • How plants make essential oils;
  • what isomers and enantiomers are;
  • types of molecules with hydroxyl groups;
  • the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols and phenols;
  • what carbonyl groups are;
  • how esters are related to alcohols;
  • how oxides and lactones are formed from alcohols.


Your Instructor


Dr E. Joy Bowles, PhD, BSc Hons
Dr E. Joy Bowles, PhD, BSc Hons

Dr E. Joy Bowles is an author, educator and researcher, best known for her contribution to the understanding of essential oil chemistry in the aromatherapy community. After completing her Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Organic Chemistry and Cell Biology, she developed the first course in essential oil chemistry in Australia in 1991. The third edition of her book "The Chemistry of Aromatherapeutic Oils" (Allen & Unwin, 2003) is still used as a text in many aromatherapy courses around the world.

In 2007 she gained her PhD on the effect of essential oils on cognitive function in dementia. After motherhood and working in chronic disease management, Joy has returned to share her chemistry and pharmacology understanding with a new generation of essential oil enthusiasts, aromatherapists and health practitioners.

In 2016 she attended the Botanica conference in England, and was invited to present in the Asia-Pacific Aromatherapy College's World Expert series in Hong Kong. In 2017 she presented two webinars for the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association, developed a 10-week webinar series titled “How Essential Oils Work on the Body”, and a one-day “Inside Aromatherapy” workshop. In 2018 she collaborated with the Tisserand Institute to create the Foundational Chemistry webinar series, and presented a 2 day “Joy of Chemistry” workshop 20-21 October in Longmont, Colorado, as well as several other offerings of the “Inside Aromatherapy” workshop, and a 21-hour webinar series titled “Refreshing Chemistry”. Dr Bowles was the key-note speaker at the annual NAHA conference in Salt Lake City, Utah (23-28 October 2018), and her talk on the psychological effects of essential oils included insights on dementia gained from her PhD, and current research on the neurobiology of olfaction.

Research-wise, in 2017-18 Joy collaborated with Peta Day (Paperbark Oils), and Monica Witsch (naturopath and aromatherapist) on the Fragonia Collaboration. This is a practitioner-led group on Facebook collecting case-study information on the therapeutic uses of Fragonia oil (Agonis fragrans). She is also collaborating with Dr Tamara Agnew and Dr Jessie Hawkins and Christy Hires from the Franklin Institute of Wellness to investigate various aspects of the practice of aromatherapy and the use of essential oils.

Course Curriculum


  Course Info
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  Week 1 - How Plants Make Essential Oils
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  Week 2 - Terpenes & Benzene Rings
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  Week 3 - Isomers & Enantiomers
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  Week 4 - Adding an -OH (hydroxyl) group
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  Week 5 - Molecules that have -OH groups
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  Week 6 - Oxidation of Primary Alcohols
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  Week 7 - Oxidation of Secondary Alcohols
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  Week 8 - Esterification of alcohols
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  Week 9 - Cyclisation of alcohols into oxides
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  Week 11 - Methoxylation of Phenols
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  Wrap up
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Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

Get started now!