Molecular docking

Article at a glance

Contemporary scientific research and the growing essential oil industry are helping us discover new ways in which essential oils can benefit our lives. Many therefore wonder: “What exactly do essential oils do what they do? Fortunately, networks of researchers are starting to find answers to that question using state-of-the-art scientific discovery methods. One of these innovative discovery methods is molecular docking.

Understanding essential oils at the cellular level

To fully understand how essential oils act and have a lasting impact on cells and their components, we need to look much closer than physical manifestations, such as improved skin tone or a sense of clear breathing. We need to take a journey into the cell and explore how essential oils work on a microscopic level. But even on a microscopic level, there are still some unanswered questions and gaps in understanding, forcing us to look deeper and from completely different angles. Many of these methods of scientific research are completely new, not just to essential oils, but to the world of science as a whole. Using these front-line research methods, doTERRA scientists have surpassed the microscope to advance our understanding of how essential oils do what they do. One of these processes is known as molecular docking.

What is Molecular Docking?

Molecular docking is an in silico tool of discovery, used to characterize the interactions between two molecules. When the term “in silico” is used to describe a scientific process, it simply means that it is performed through computer simulation. Molecular docking and computer-aided discovery are hugely beneficial to the scientific community and provide a time- and cost-efficient way to assess how molecules will interact with each other. This is a particularly useful tool for evaluating how molecules may behave before assessing them in cultured cells or in a living organism.

Molecular docking in essential oil research involves the use of special programs and parameters designed to characterize the interactions between essential oil constituents and protein targets in the cell. With these programs, doTERRA researchers are able to gain a clearer understanding of what essential oils do by observing how they may interact with their protein targets.

Why Molecular Docking Matters

The knowledge gained from molecular docking enables doTERRA to understand the effectiveness of current utility models and the possibility of new models, how to improve mixing for specific purposes, and possible further benefits of aromatic compounds. From the source to you, doTERRA is able to offer the highest quality essential oils and blends, and the best education on how to use them for lifelong vitality and wellness.

With the work done daily by their own scientific experts and their research collaborations, doTERRA continues to set the precedent for innovation and science in the essential oil industry. While much research remains to be done, doTERRA is beginning to piece together the complex scientific puzzle of the essential oil experience using innovative discovery methods such as molecular docking. The knowledge gained from these studies will not only advance our overall understanding of essential oils, but may also help us further demonstrate the unparalleled efficacy, purity and quality of CPTG® oils and aid us in future product formulation .


doTERRA Science blog articles are based on various scientific sources. Many of the studies referenced are preliminary studies, experimental studies, and further research is needed to better understand the findings. Essential oils may have drug interactions, patient contraindications, or side effects that cannot be evaluated using experimental research results alone. If you are interested in using essential oils for any health problem, please consult your healthcare provider first.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.