volatile oilmedical dictionary

A substance of oily consistency and feel, derived from a plant and containing the principles to which the odour and taste of the plant are due (essential oil); in contrast to a fatty oil, a volatile oil evaporates when exposed to the air and thus is capable of distillation; it may also be obtained by expression or extraction; many volatile oil's, identical to or closely resembling the natural oil's, can be made synthetically. Volatile oil's are used in medicine as stimulants, stomachics, correctives, carminatives, and for purposes of flavouring (e.g., peppermint oil).

Synonyms: ethereal oil.

(05 Mar 2000)