Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts. They are the life blood of the plant that protects the plant from disease and pests. These extracts, when processed properly and distilled from the proper plant species offer healing properties to people and their pets as well. Essential oils offer more healing benefits than dried herbs which have lost about 98% of the plant’s energy. A comparison would be drinking fresh squeezed orange juice versus juice made from juice concentrate which had the water and nutrients eliminated then had different water added to reconstitute it.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years with documentation of their use even found in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Essential oils are documented in the Bible in over 500 places, with specific usages. Frankincense and Myrhh were brought as gifts to the Christ child. These original therapeutic grade oils offered many health benefits that our culture is rediscovering. Over time, however the essential oil industry has become overrun with imitations and adultered versions that have fillers and chemicals added to extend the supply. The unknowing consumers can smell the oil’s fragrance but it may not have the healing benefits, and could even be harmful depending on what unknown chemicals have been added. Avoid these inferior oils in all situations, even for inhalation or diffusing where chemical additives could irritate the respiratory tract.
Currently, the FDA does not have regulation to differentiate between Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils that offer healing properties and perfume grade oils that only offer fragrance. The Fair Package and Labeling Act of 1973 specifically excludes the term “fragrance” and does not define it. Fragrance listed on any U.S. product does not need to meet any requirements and is most likely just a combination of chemicals, many of which are now found to be toxic and harmful with use. For example, musk ketone, a synthetic musk found in many perfumes has been found to disrupt hormones and negatively impact the endocrine system – many of the secret chemicals in perfumes have even been found in fetuses. For more information on the safety of the products you use, check out www.ewg.org and see how your current health & beauty products rate for toxicity.
Make sure you use only pure therapeutic essential oils that are safe as a dietary supplement. Look for a company that tests their oils for purity, ideally a company that grows their own plant materials, distills on location and does not ship plant material to a different processing facility. A company that maintains quality control from growing plants to distillation and packaging is the optimal condition to ensure purity in a product.