Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy



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Almond Oil

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  • Almond Oil

    Prunus dulcis (Mill), P. Amygdalis var.dulcis.
    P.dulcis var. dulcis, Amygdalis communis, P. amygdalis var. sativa
    Family: Rosaceae
    Amygdalis is from the Greek - amugdale and Latin - amygdala names for the plant. Almonds were known to the Romans as nuces graecae (Greek nuts) Dulis is from the Latin and means sweet, sativa has the meaning cultivated and prunus is the Latin name for plum tree.
    The almond tree is indigenous to the Middle East, and is now cultivated in the supportive warm climates of the Mediterranean countries and California. It is an ancient tree, which has been cultivated for thousands of years. Almonds were prized by the Greeks, who introduced them to Southern Europe.
  • The trees were grown in Italy for hundreds of years before the spread to France in the 8th century and on to Britain some 800 years later. The tree is small, reaching only 3-7 metres ( 10-23 feet) in height and bears white or pink blossom in the springtime, which appears at about the same time as the leaves begin to show. The fruits have a light-green furry outer skin and have the appearance of a small, green apricot.
    Sweet almond oil is one of the most used carrier oils; it is pale yellow in colour, slightly viscous and very oily. In pharmacy, almond oil means strictly the oil of Prunus amygdalis, although the oils of Peach Kernel  (Prunus persica)apricot kernel (Prunus armeniaca) and hazelnut are chemically similar. Indeed it is a difficult matter to discriminate between these, both chemically and physically. An advantage that these oils have over some others is that they have less of a tendency to become rancid.
    The best quality is obtained by cold pressing the kernels, which contain up to 50% oil, and then clarifying by filtration, Thus sweet almond oil can thus be sold as physically expressed giving a yield of 35% ( when its price is similar to apricot and peach oils)but it is more often available as a refined, chemically extracted product with a yield of 50% at a lower price. After cold pressing, the kernels still contain enough oil to warrant extraction by the use of solvents and most of the almond oil available has been solvent extracted, and is the oil used in the cosmetics industry. Unfortunately its lower price makes the refined oil attractive to many aromatherapists.


Saturated acid fatty units     
C14:0  myristic acid   trace 
C16:0  palmitic acid   6.6 (6-8) 
C18:0  stearic acid   1.6 (0.5-1.8) 
Typical saturated fatty acid unit content     8.2 
Monounsaturated fatty acid units     
C16:1  palmitoleic acid  0.4 (0.4-0.7) 
C18:1  oelic acid   65.0 (60-80) 
C20:1  eicosenoic acid  <0.5 
Typical monounsaturated fatty acid unit content   66.5
Polyunsaturated fatty acid units    
C18:2  linoleic acid   27.7 (17-30) 
Typical polyunsaturated fatty acid unit content   28





Odor The refined oil has a delicate, sweet smell and a flavour with a hint of marzipan.
Acid value 1.5 max
Specific gravity 0.012-0.916
Energy value Kcal/100ml 890
  • Vitamins 
  • Vitamins A, B1, B6 and E.
    Almond were very popular in Elizabethan England soon after they were introduced into the country and were much used in cokkery, which often also included almond water, Sweet almond seed or seed oil has been used as a folk cancer remedy for bladder, breast, mouth, spleen and uterine cancers, among  others (Leung & Foster 1996 p.24) Grieve (1998) says that the expressed il is useful in bronchial diseases, tickling coughs, hoarseness, nephritic pains etc.
  • The only newly pressed out of Sweet Almonds is a mitigator of pain and all manner of aches, therefore it is good for pleurisy and colic. The oil of almonds makes smooth the hands and face of delicate persons and cleanseth the skin from all spots and pimples. Gerard.
  • Almond oil is used in laxative preparations and is said to be effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels (leung & Foster 1996 p. 230 It is also used in oily injections  (Evans 1996).
    an excellent emollient (Leung & Foster 1996) alleviating and nourishing dry skin.
    Helps to soothe inflammation (Stier 1990)
    Beneficial in relieving the itching caused by eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and all cases of dry scaly skin.
    Has been used to ease irritation on babies bottoms

  • soothes sunburn
    Pharmacological studies reveal that sweet almond oil is absorbed slowly through intact skin (Fisher 1983). Both almond and olive oils can be used for massage; fresh oils containing more essential fatty acids are best (Erasmus 1986).
    Sweet almond oil finds use as an emollient (National Formulary Board 1975) many pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.
    almonds, both whole and ground, are widely used in cakes, chocolates, marzipan and many savoury dishes.

  • said to be non-irritating and non-sensitizing, and considered safe for cosmetic use (Fisher 1983, Leung & Foster 1996) but a few people are allergic to cosmetics containing almond oil, suffering stuffy nose and skin rash (Winter 1984) . Products containing up to 25% sweet almond are practically non-irritating to rabbit skin and only minimally irritating to rabbit eyes. In sub-chronic studies sweet almond oil at 100% concentration was only slightly irritating to rabbit skin (Fisher 1983).
  • Kedvessy (1940) reported that sweer almond tends to become rancid more quickly than other fixed oils. Marked changes in peroxide and acid values occured when sweet almond oil was stored at room temperature (20C- 28 C) for ten weeks, the additions of antioxidants greatly increases the stability and shelf life (Hizon & Huyck 1956).
  • There is an essential oil of bitter almonds(Prunus amygdalis var. amra, Prunuc dulcis var. amara) but this is not used in aromatherapy because of its toxicity. Prior to distillation the nuts are crushed and macerated in water, which leads to the formation of 2-4% hydrocyanic acid (prussic acid) due to the decomposition of amygdalin.
  • It is possible to obtain rectified bitter almond essential oil (referred to as FFPA- free from prussic acid) in competition with synthetic benzaldehyde and this is commonly used as a flavouring agent, chiefly in the agricultural food industry (Bruenton 1995).
  • Reference: Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage: Len Price with Ian Smith and Shirley Price. 

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