It’s an aromatherapy oil jungle out there these days and I cannot help but notice a lack of accurate information regarding essential oil quality. It must be very confusing for someone new to aromatherapy. I believe the first thing one needs to know to make smart consumer and health choices is to know that all aromatherapy oils are not created equally. In other words, there is so much cheap aromatherapy oils in products that one is nearly guaranteed to not get what they think they are buying.
Fact, about 98 percent of all aromatherapy oils (essential oils) are, in my opinion, not even fit for being produced. As a matter of fact that is precisely how I began my essential oil journey. I had been buying a popular all-natural brand of air fresheners and household cleaner. Then, one day while reading the labels I discovered that not only were those products not natural at all but that they actually contained known carcinogens. I became angry through this discovery, I had been spending double the cost to get products that were advertised as being natural and organic, and they weren’t. So I began making my own products with “REAL” essential oils and the difference was like night and day. In the meantime, I have saved a fortune making my own air fresheners and household cleaners – which by the way, are super easy to make and very cost efficient.
Getting back to the topic of “Superior Quality Aromatherapy” I was reading in my Essential Oils Desk Reference (which is a must have book, online version and binder format) and thought this excerpt would be immensely helpful for those who are new to essential oils and aromatherapy.
Today the terms “pure” “organic” “natural” “100% pure” on labels are meaningless. Any of those labels can include adulteration in regards to essential oils and aromatherapy products. In other words, yes, they absolutely can and will contain chemicals that are extremely unhealthy to inhale, ingest, apply topically, diffuse, and for use in household cleaning. While on the surface this may not seem a big deal but when we take into account that most of us are exposed to some 30+ toxic chemicals before we even make it to the breakfast table it is wise to know what you are getting, and not getting. Each of us can significantly minimize our exposure to these chemical toxins, all it takes is a little knowledge.
These oils are far more than just nice smells and you should have access to this kind of information before making a choice about which essential oils and aromatherapy products to buy and you should know, without a doubt, that the brand you have chosen is the absolute best. Below the excerpt I have a quick tip to share with you too on the fastest and easiest way I can tell if an oil is superior quality or not.
One of the factors that determines the purity of an oil is its chemical constituents. These constituents can be affected by a vast number of variables, including: the part(s) of the plant from which the oil was produced, soil condition, fertilizer (organic or chemical), geographical region, climate, altitude, harvesting methods, and distillation processes. For example, common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) produces several different chemotypes (biochemically unique variants within one species) depending on the conditions of its growth, climate, and altitude. One chemotype of thyme will yield an essential oil with high levels of thymol, depending on the time of year it is distilled. The later it is distilled in the growing season (i.e., mid-summer or fall), the more thymol the oil will contain.
Proper cultivation assures that more specific chemotypes like Thymus vulgaris will maintain a good strain of thymol, whereas with wildcrafting, you may produce linalol and eugenol thyme on the same mountainside.
An example of this was shown in studies at the University of Ege botany department in Izmir, Turkey, where it was found that among Origanum compactum (Oregano) plants within a 100 square foot radius, one plant would be very high in carvacrol and another would be high in another compound. Wildcrafting plants cannot guarantee the same chemotype even on the same hillside.
The key to producing a therapeutic-grade essential oil is to preserve as many of the delicate aromatic compounds within the essential oil as possible. Fragile aromatic chemicals are easily destroyed by high temperature and pressure, as well as contact with chemically reactive metals such as copper or aluminum. This is why all therapeutic-grade essential oils should be distilled in stainless steel cooking chambers at low pressure and low temperature.
The plant material should also be free of herbicides and other agrichemicals. These can react with the essential oil during distillation to produce toxic compounds. Because many pesticides are oil soluble, they can also mix into the essential oil.
As we begin to understand the power of essential oils in the realm of personal, holistic healthcare, we will appreciate the necessity for obtaining the purest essential oils possible. No matter how costly pure essential oils may be, there can be no substitutes.
Although chemists have successfully recreated the main constituents and fragrances of some essential oils in the laboratory, these synthetic oils lack therapeutic benefits and may even carry risks. Why? Because essential oils contain hundreds of different chemical compounds, which, in combination, lend important therapeutic properties to the oil. Also, many essential oils contain molecules and isomers that are impossible to manufacture in the laboratory.
Anyone venturing into the world of therapy using essential oils must use the purest quality oils available. Inferior quality or adulterated oils most likely will not produce therapeutic results and could possibly be toxic. In Europe, a set of standards has been established that outlines the chemical profile and principal constituents that a quality essential oil should have. Known as AFNOR (Association French Normalization Organization Regulation) and ISO (International Standards Organization) standards, these guidelines help buyers differentiate between a therapeutic-grade essential oil and a lower grade oil with a similar chemical makeup and fragrance.
Quick Tip for Determining Quality Oils
Pick up a bottle of Rose, Ylang Ylang and/or Frankincense. Spin the bottle around. Does the label state, “Not for Internal Use”? If the answer is “yes” – think twice before making that purchase!
Rose, Ylang Ylang and Frankincense oils ARE: expensive and edible! Which simply means, if you wanted to ingest a few drops for its benefits or for flavoring foods and beverages you can. Those oils, and many others, do come from edible plants.
However, because Rose, Ylang Ylang and Frankincense are expensive and require much more skill and time to distill to extract their essential oils, most companies will instead use the fastest and cheapest practices. Which means that what on the market and being used in aromatherapy and essential oil products is of the poorest quality out there.
The reason the label states that an oil is not for internal use is because it is poor quality, adulterated, and not safe for ingesting. Remember, warning labels are on products for a reason.
Other essential oils that can be ingested and come from edible plants, to be used in home remedies, cooking and for flavoring beverages provided they are superior quality are: Lemon, Thyme, Rosemary, Myrrh, Orange, Lavender, Marjoram, Grapefruit, Basil, any of the pines/spruces/firs, Dill, Fennel, Copaiba, Ocotea, Geranium, Ginger, Ledum, Juniper, Lemongrass, Helichrysum, Melissa, Mountain Savory, Myrtle, Nutmeg, Chamomile, Oregano, Patchouli, Sage, Peppermint, Spearmint, Sandalwood, Tarragon, Valerian, Tangerine, Vetiver.
If the brand you’re using or thinking of buying lists any of these as not being suitable for ingesting you can safely assume that all of their essential oils are lower quality and are adulterated.
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Articles by Evelyn Vincent, Young Living Independent Distributor #476766
"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." ~ R. Buckminster Fuller