If you’re reading this, then you must be skeptical about essential oils just like I once was. Well, I’m glad you’re here because we have some things to straighten out. First, let me start by admitting this: I didn’t always sing the praises of essential oils. In fact, for a few years I was very skeptical for good reason. That’s because I was using essential oils without a whole lot of results happening. So what changed? I educated myself. Not saying you’re uneducated, but perhaps there are some things you need clarification on. So, I decided to compile a list of things that I did not know about essential oils before I started using them. Ready? Here we go.
1. NOT ALL ESSENTIAL OILS ARE CREATED EQUAL
I remember reading testimony after testimony claiming that this essential oil did this amazing thing for that person, blah, blah, blah. It was kind of frustrating at the time to be honest because I figured that these people must have either been making things up, exaggerating, or not telling the full story. Why were essential oils working for them and not for me? Apparently, just because it has a nice label doesn’t mean it’s going to work effectively. Maybe you’ve had this experience. Maybe you’re having this experience now and that’s why you’re reading this.
2. QUALITY MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
The frugal shopper in me just didn’t want to believe it, but it’s true. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for. Now, I’m not saying you have to go find the most expensive oil on the planet to reap the benefits, but let’s just all agree that your local discount shopping center is not the best place to find a very high quality essential oil. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE not spending a hundred dollars on something I could get for $5. But what you need to understand is that in the world of essential oils what determines whether an oil will be effective or not has everything to do with the quality. That is because essential oils contain chemical constituents that are greatly affected by a variety of factors (climate, season, altitude, soil condition, geographic location, etc.) and these chemical constituents are what give them their therapeutic benefits and make them effective. (We’ll talk more about chemical constituents and how they work in the body later in another post). I know what you’re thinking. “What if I can’t afford the best quality?” All you really need to get started is one oil. Start to incorporate it into your everyday life and routine, educate yourself on it’s benefits, and then gradually add on from there. But you definitely want to seek out the best quality you can afford.
3. IF IT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS.
It makes sense if you think about it, really. Imagine, you’re a knowledgeable retailer that has spent a lot of time finding the optimal locations to source your oils and then pay fees on top of it to have your oils tested. You should definitely be charging a little more than the retailer who hasn’t done so, right? Also, keep in mind that if you’re producing the purist essential oils possible, this can be extremely costly to you. Did you know that the distillation process requires hundreds, sometimes even thousands of pounds of plants to produce just one pound of essential oil? Basically, don’t expect to pay very little for a very high quality, pure oil. It just doesn’t make sense.
4. THERAPEUTIC GRADE IS A REAL THING.
Here’s where it gets confusing. Some people will tell you there is no such thing as therapeutic grade oils and that it’s just a term made up for marketing purposes. Not true. While it is true that there is no governmental regulation on therapeutic grade essential oils, many companies do in fact have their own standards for therapeutic grade. Obviously these standards are set by the companies themselves which can be a good or bad thing depending on the integrity of the company (some companies actually have very high standards while others do not). Furthermore, these oils may or may not be third-party tested in an independent lab by people who may or may not be well qualified. (Is your head spinning yet?) Most companies don’t intentionally try to deceive customers with this label, but it’s possible that there are some that do. However, it is still important to find a company that labels their oils as 100% pure therapeutic grade. Why? Because it should mean that the oil was sourced with having the purpose of therapeutic use in mind (so it’s not just food-grade quality or perfume quality). Once you’ve established that the oils are 100% pure therapeutic grade, you’ll also want to make sure that they are tested in an independent laboratory (or third-party tested). This is usually something you’ll have to ask about as most companies don’t put this information on their labels. And if you’re still skeptical, send them an email to ask for documents showing their third-party testing on a few oils. A company that has nothing to hide will be more than happy to send you the information you’re seeking.
5. IT’S WORTH INVESTIGATING A COMPANY’S STANDARDS AND PROTOCOLS
Remember those oils I told you about that didn’t quite work so well? Well, on the labels of those oils, they all claim to be 100% pure. Some even claim to be 100% pure therapeutic grade and a few are even certified organic. Again, we don’t know what the label “therapeutic grade” really entails until we do some research on the company’s standards since there are no real regulations for that in the industry. Also, keep in mind that even oils labeled as “100% pure” can still be distilled from poor quality crops or even be distilled incorrectly. So how will you know which company to trust? Here are some things you should be looking for:
-Plants should be grown in their indigenous (natural and ideal) environment.
Did you know that when an oil is sourced from a plant that’s grown in its indigenous environment, it can double or even triple the beneficial compounds of that essential oil?
–There should be nothing added or taken away from the oils.
-Nothing else should be listed in the ingredients but the oils.
-There should be no toxic solvents used in the extraction process.
-The oils should be extracted using only steam distillation or expression (for citrus).
Note: Although convenient, buying essential oils (even 100% pure therapeutic grade) at your local health food store is probably not the best idea. Here’s why: sometimes the staff is not as knowledgeable as far as the way the oils should be stored (not in a hot storage room for long periods of time, for example). So even if the brands they carry are high quality, they might have lost some potency or effectiveness by the time it reaches your home. So either make sure you ask a lot of questions or seek out a retailer who specifically specializes in high quality essential oils.
Okay, that about wraps things up. I really hope this cleared some things up for you. If you would like to know which essential oil brand I personally use and love, then please let me know in the comments below!
Modern Essential Usage Guide, 6th edition