Alumni Highlight: Chemistry Of Essential Oils |

Mar 19, 2021 11:30:00 AM | Certificate in Aromatherapy Alumni Highlight: Chemistry Of Essential Oils |

ACHS aromatherapy graduate Geetanjali shares about the chemistry of essential oils.


Alumni Highlight Geetanjali Ranade

Geetanjali Ranade graduated from ACHS in 2000 with a Certificate in Aromatherapy. She holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology and is a Registered Medical Practitioner. She also practices Reiki and completed her postdoctoral research in Japan on brain angiogenesis. She has had papers in many different publications and has been working from 2000 onwards in the perfume industry.

Discovering Aromatherapy

With a father in the perfume industry and a grandfather as an ayurvedic doctor, Geetanjali was exposed to aromatherapy and holistic health from a young age. As an adult she found a desire to learn more about aromatherapy while studying biomedical engineering. "My research was on brain and blood circulation," she says. "At that time I was in Japan for my postdoctoral dissertation and thought I should simultaneously spend time studying aromatherapy more systematically and not just reading some books and papers."

That is when Geetanjali enrolled at ACHS, where she says that her aromatherapy studies linked nicely with what she was learning about brain microcirculation. In 2000 when Geetanjali completed her aromatherapy certificate, ACHS was not yet an online college and in fact, it had a different name: The Australasian College of Herbal Studies. "It was not online, I got a kit and study materials in the mail," Geetanjali says. "I used to send by post my answers and get questions also by post. Even exams were hand written." 

ACHS materials

Pictured: Geetanjali with study materials for her aromatherapy certificate

Essential Oil Research

After completing her postdoctoral research in Japan, Geetanjali went back to India and began to teach at a university in the Biophysics department. During this time, her master's students assisted her in research on aromatherapy. 

Geetanjali Inst in Japan

Pictured: Geetanjali in Japan during her postdoctoral research

Geetanjali says that if you are studying the psychological effects of an essential oil, you should work with a psychiatric therapist. "If you have a medical professional to help, you can do CT scans to add proof to your data. It is good to have the data published so everyone can believe in aromatherapy better," she says.

She recalls a study on the antidepressant qualities of aromatherapeutic oils where she worked with a senior practicing psychiatrist and the oils were shown to support patient recovery. A paper was later published with the research.

Geetanjali has had many other papers published, including two that are currently available in the Journal of National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy online if you are a member. Featured in the 2008 and 2009 journals, her research focuses on Mimosa and Rose plants. [1] [2]

Perfume Industry

In 2000, Geetanjali joined the perfume industry working with fragrances and essential oils at Quintessence Fragrances, Ltd. 

"I design fragrances using chemicals," she explains. She uses natural fragrances for the perfumes when required, and also keeps her own natural fragrances separate for use with clients. "Everything matters in perfumery. Cost, odour, preference by the client and stability of the fragrance in different end products and safety," she says.

Working with Patients

While working in the perfume industry, Geetanjali also works with patients at a social level. "After talking to the particular patient, I make the blend for that person," she says. Post-retirement from the perfume industry, she plans to work with patients at a commercial level when it will not interfere with her profession as a perfumer.

Some of the people she works with are autistic children and their families. She says that odor memory plays a big role when choosing essential oils, especially for these children.

"I have to pay attention to their association. Of course every child is different. Association of smells and reactions they have with the oils was very interesting," she says.

In 2004, a Nobel Prize was awarded for "discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system," which Geetanjali says confirmed the importance of smell in healthcare. She says that she must have tried every essential from A to Z with the children she works with, and hopes to do official research after the COVID-19 lockdown is over. 

essential oil dropper bottle with multi colored background_38064274_xl (1) copy 2

Aromatherapy and Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, there is a term "Gandhachikitsa" that means aromatherapy. Geetanjali says that many of the massage oils used in Ayurveda are not considered to smell pleasant. "One customer had massage oil that had garlic in it. It’s horrible to have garlic on your skin," she says. So, she used a perfume to improve the smell of the garlic massage oil. "In ayurveda, most of the massage oils smell bad. If you can make it better, why not try that."

You can hear Geetanjali speak more about the use of essential oils and perfume in Ayurveda in the videos below.



Natural Versus Reconstituted Oils

Geetanjali explains the difference between natural essential oils and reconstituted oils and synthetic fragrances. Natural oils are complete and obtained from natural substances (flowers, stem, root, leaves, needles, grass, or complete plant). In comparison, reconstituted oils are made by using known ingredients from natural oils, and synthetic perfume is made from chemicals.

She says that natural essential oils contain an active molecule, carrier molecule and antidote. Our brain's' limbic system is responsible for the therapeutic effect of natural essential oils. The carrier molecule helps the active molecule to reach the limbic system crossing the blood brain barrier (The blood brain barrier protects the brain from hazardous substances that could try to reach it). The antidote in natural oil takes care of any active molecules that are in excess. This happens at the microscopic levels. This is the reason why only natural and complete essential oils have a therapeutic effect and reconstituted oils and fragrances will make you feel good but lack the therapeutic effect.

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  1. RANADE G. G., Mimosa- Touch me not, Aromatherapy Journal (Journal of National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), USA), 2009
  2. RANADE G.G., Rose, King of Flowers, Aromatherapy Journal (Journal of National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), USA), 2008.

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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine. 

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Gillian Turner

Written By: Gillian Turner

Gillian joined ACHS after graduating from Linfield College with a BA in Mass Communication and a minor in visual studies. She grew up off the grid in rural southern Oregon and spent time exploring the forest surrounding her house and teaching gardening classes to other children in her garden. While at Linfield, Gillian gained valuable experience in public relations, social media management, and digital art. She was awarded a strategic communication scholarship and inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honor society “that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication.” When not at work, Gillian can most often be found making art, enjoying nature or drinking coffee with her husband, Preston. Her interests include sustainability, mental wellness, and trying to stay connected to nature while living in the city. She studied abroad at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and has traveled to over ten different countries. Her favorite place that she has visited is the Scottish Highlands, and she hopes to visit many more countries in the future.