There’s been much talk about therapeutic grade essential oils. Even the term “Therapeutic grade essential oils” is a loaded phrase. There are certain companies who claim they have them, but I truly believe it is a marketing term. Granted, there are so many conceptions about the meaning of therapeutic grade, or even if there is such a thing.
In the end, I’m just trying to offer helpful information, and as long as you do your own research, and make your own decisions; take control of your health and be responsible with your choices, you’ll be fine.
Personally, with all the information I’ve read and with all the experience I’ve had on my own with essential oils (over 20 years), I still believe there is a difference with quality in terms of ‘therapeutic grade’.
To me, it could mean when the grower, and distiller –all phases from beginning to consumer, use proper business practices and techniques that fall in line with ‘organic’ or ‘Earth-friendly’ practices, or “preserve as many of the delicate aromatic compounds and volatile substances within the essential oil as possible “, and answer all the stupid (and not so stupid) questions I grill them with,… then they have my business.
I’m pretty particular when it comes to choosing which oils I buy.
The essential oil companies I trust most are one’s that I’ve asked, and they’ve have answered- to my satisfaction- many many questions. They have my trust implicitly, unless things change. LOL
Things I’ve found out about
Therapeutic grade essential oils:
Test the essential oil yourself, simply by putting a drop of oil on the back of your hand:
It is a pure essential oil (distilled or expressed) if it disappears into the skin quickly;
An absolute or a resin (such as patchouli, myrrh) should be oozy, thick and sticky;
An essential oil in a carrier oil will lubricate the back of your hand and will not absorb quickly. (Many sellers will try to fool you, so be aware that many are not as straight-forward as they should be, and will try to dilute or adulterate their oils to save money).
But when it comes to higher standards, such as those from:
Oshandhi, Mountain Rose Herbs, Rocky Mountain Oils, Native American Nutritionals, and even a few others like Young Living –even though they’ve made their own standard, and their own marketing terms it is still a quality company, just more expensive- and yes I realize that not everyone thinks YL is a good company, that’s up to you to decide)—-
The key to distilling a high quality or therapeutic-grade essential oil (or whatever you want to call it) is to preserve as many of the delicate aromatic compounds and volatile substances within the essential oil as possible – that makes sense to me.
As each element in the essential oil is very fragile (it’s what makes it itself – like our DNA is to us) and may be destroyed by very high temperatures, or super high-pressure, and contact with chemically reactive metals (i.e., copper or aluminum) might pose threats to the fragile aromatic compounds in these precious oils. That really does make perfect sense to me. And though some do not agree, I still believe that this holds true. Believe what you will.
Many have said that there are many variables that can affect the quality of the essential oil. These can include but are not limited to: soil conditions, quality of fertilizer and whether it was organic or chemical, region, climate, altitude, harvest season, harvest methods, distillation or extraction process, and part or parts of the plant used for distillation.For instance, tne plant can produce several different biochemical variations, or ‘chemotypes’. These chemotypes may vary according to climate, altitude and growing conditions. Thyme is a great example of this. One constituent of thyme is thymol, and thymol is one of the ‘active’ components in the plant. Studies showed that the later in the season the thyme was distilled, the more thymol the oil contained. If it is distilled in early summer the thymol levels will be quite low, and oil will be much less effective, if at all. For example, the later thyme is distilled in the growing season (i.e., late summer or fall), the more thymol the oil will contain. If it is distilled in the early summer, thymol levels will be very low; hence, the oil will be less effective, if at all.
It is impossible to have the exact same essential oil year after year because nature changes with each day. One year it might be very sunny, and another year be very rainy, so that alone will make a difference. But if reputable companies are using proper business practices, then suffice to say, they are doing the best they can to bring us quality.
Also be aware that, “Natural essential oils contain hundreds of different chemical compounds, many of which have not been identified yet, but still bring vital therapeutic properties to the oil. Although chemists have managed to recreate some of the constituents and fragrances of oils, there are many molecules and isomers that are impossible to manufacture in the laboratory.” Have you ever seen blueberry essential oil? Of course not, if there is blueberry, apple, papaya, and the like, its quite doubtful that its an essential oil, but a fragrance, and probably a synthetically manufactured fragrance.There simply are no substitutes for the purest essential oils.
HOW to choose the best essential oils:
If you just want essential oil basic information a good place to start is Aromaweb, although a lot of their information comes from sources that are not referenced–you could also check out google scholar. Click here to see google schoar search for “therapeutic grade essential oils” sorted by metrics.
“Potential essential oil buyers should independently check out the marketing information provided by essential oil traders – do not be put off asking for any extra information or reassurances that you are legally entitled to if the situation is not absolutely clear cut. The professional aromatherapist has a duty to be able to provide all relevant safety information relevant toto their clients’ treatment(s) and therefore It is part of ‘due diligence’ to ask questions, require any stipulated proofs, request an MSDS, ask for compositional data & certificate of origin of the batch of oil purchasedand have their eyes wide open to marketing ploys & scams of all types – including providing GC’MS print-outs and other information which relate to other batches of oils entirely, and, of course,describing essential oils as ‘therapeutic grade’.”
If you want to use essential oils internally (which should only be used under supervision of an Aromatherapist —find an Aromatherapist) make sure your Aromatherapist has experience above all else. Though it is great if they have been approved by one of these NAHA approved schools, it isn’t the end-all-be-all of knowledge. Experience is always the best teacher, and there are many wonderful Aromatherapists out there who are not accredited by those schools but are probably better than any new graduate…anyway, the point is— be sure to dilute e.o.s properly and use the very best essential oils you can find. But for external uses, such as diffusing, or for room fragrancing, etc…it’s not imperative to use the highest grade available.
The best way to go about sampling, is by first checking to make sure they are a reputable company, have the Latin names on every bottle, and make sure they analyze all their oils by gas chromatography and are certified organic as possible. Don’t be fooled by the selling techniques of some distributors.
There are more companies than just Young Living who apply these techniques, so don’t feel like they are your only choice. I’ve used Bella Mira and Mountain Rose Herbs , Oshandhii, and many others who also apply these regulations and guidelines for their essential oils. Check around, you’d be surprised at what you’ll find. But please, do research!
Also be sure to check out… the list of uses.
Thanks for reading, I hope you find much use in your everyday for these magical little miracles.
More information from a certified aromatherapist, and published author, Sharon Falsetto – who writes for NAHA wrote: two aromatherapy information websites Aromatherapy Glossary and Aromatherapy Library. Great resources.
Please leave comments about who you found to be the best oils, or what you believe about therapeutic grade essential oils, I’d love to share resources.