When selecting essential oils for health and well being, choices can be overwhelming.
ALWAYS purchase pure, steam-distilled essential oils. If you can find ‘certified organic’ essential oils and products, assuring their purity…all the better. Although therapeutic essential oils are considerably more expensive than cheaper fragrance-grade oils used for casual ‘aromatherapy’ (scents in home air-fresheners, laundry products, cleaners, candles and soaps), keep in mind ~ You Get What You Pay For!!
What ARE Therapeutic Essential Oils?
MANY FACTORS contribute to the quality of medicinal plants’ health & vitality. Harvesting, as well as processing – timing and techniques – significantly affect the final, steam-distilled, therapeutic essential oils.
- The plants must be grown organically, or wild-crafted (grown and harvested) in non-polluted locations.
- Some climates, even elevations, are more ideally suited for enhancing the quality and concentration of the therapeutic essential oil compounds.
- The harvested plant material (roots, stems, bark, leaves, berries, petals, rind…depending on the essential oil) must be processed under low temperatures & pressures for the appropriate length of time.
- Nothing (except for steam used in the distillation process) should be added or removed from the essential oil, so the final product retains its full spectrum of therapeutic properties in nature’s original proportions.
- Gas chromatography* – scientific laboratory analysis – is used to assess the proportions of an essential oil’s component molecules, which determines whether or not the essential oil meets therapeutic standards set by AFNOR.
*See link for a more detailed explanation of Gas chromatography from Journal of Chromatography A, (2001)
There are three internationally recognized standards of excellence for therapeutic-quality essential oils. The two most frequently referred to are:
~ AFNOR / Association French Normalization Organization Regulation. AFNOR, charged with regulating essential oils in Europe, has set detailed standards / percentages of specific chemical constituents that must be present in stringent laboratory analysis for an essential oil to be considered therapeutic grade. To gain the AFNOR seal, essential oils must be sent to France for testing.
~ ISO / International Standards Organization.
And a more recent organization:
~ EC / The European ‘Gold Standard’ of excellence.
REMEMBER! Often a drop or two (or less) is all you may use in particular situation (ie. taking a sniff of a calming essential oils if you’re feeling overwhelmed or dabbing a drop of antiseptic essential oil on a small cut or scratch).
If you want good ideas on how to use pure ‘single’ essential oils, click the links below to purchase our guides. Lemon is FREE!
Many Non-Therapeutic Essential Oils are Chemical Formulations
Do you hold your breath in the grocery store when walking down the laundry products or soap aisle? Rush by or avoid perfume counters in department stores? Synthetic aroma-chemicals are often added to cheap fragrance oils for enhancing scent profiles or to cut proportions of more expensive aromatic ingredients. Aroma-chemicals are often toxic, with serious health effects, for those exposed to them. TRUST your responses! Your nose KNOWS.
BE AWARE! Oils used for food flavorings, in common ‘aromatherapy’ products such as scented candles, air fresheners, soaps & cleaning products, etc. and for the mass-market perfume industry are not appropriate for health care uses. If you’re curious, read more in our article Essential Oil Grades, A-C and Why You Need To Know The Difference.
As you might imagine, there’s an enormous difference in the chemical composition, quality, and cost of a pine-scented aroma-chemical used in a floor cleaner vs. pure steam-distilled pine essential oil with therapeutic compounds that may help relieve a headache!
If you need assistance in selecting quality companies to purchase essential oils from, jot me a Quick Question in our link in the right-hand column. I’ve been using and sourcing essential oils for my family and others’ health and well-being, since 1999. Several top-notch suppliers provide quality essential oils. I’m a member of several essential oils user forums where I read numerous reviews and personal experiences from other knowledgeable essential oils users.