Essential oils in the United States have little regulation and do not differentiate perfume grade oils from therapeutic grade essential oils, however, Europe does. Look for a company that tests their oils for purity and has them labeled as a dietary supplement. Essential oils that are AFNOR and ISO standardized as well as certified organic are helpful as well. When you use a Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil you can be assured of an oil that is not only potent and pure, but will produce results and help you and your family to be healthier.
Plants: Therapeutic grade oils must come from the proper species of plant. Lavender and Lavandin both produce an oil that smells like lavender, Lavandin, however has much higher levels of camphor in it. If you applied a lavandin oil to a burn the high levels of camphor could actually make the burn worse. Even some species of lavender after harvesting and distilling have levels of camphor that are too high to be used as therapeutic grade lavender. The only way you can be guaranteed of a therapeutic grade oil is to purchase it from a reputable company you trust to test each batch of oil for purity and potency.
Processing: Therapeutic grade oils are volatile liquids that must be processed properly to maintain the integrity of the aromatic compounds. The process is specific chemistry, not unlike cooking. The fragile compounds in essential oils can easily be destroyed by heat and pressure as well as contact with chemically sensitive metals such as copper or aluminum. Therapeutic grade essential oils should be distilled in stainless steel. Any compromise in processing can result in a loss of therapeutic constituents and increased toxins. Plants must be distilled at the proper time to maximize the healing constituents in the oil. Lavender for example is distilled 12 hours after harvesting. It is at that point the flowers have absorbed the maximum amount of energy into the flowers where the oil is distilled from. It is also important to harvest oils from the proper part of the plant. Therapeutic clove oil is produced from the buds,but an oil smelling like clove can be harvested by distilling the stems and leaves. The average consumer can not distinguish between the two oils since they both have the same ‘aroma’. The only difference will most likely be when one does not experience the benefits of an oil beyond aroma.
Purity: Therapeutic grade essential oils should have nothing added and nothing taken away. Essential oils may actually be harmful if they are thinned with synthetics or have chemical fillers. If a lemon oil, for example is labeled as “not for ingestion” it could be it has harmful chemicals added or it is a chemical reproduction of a pure lemon oil and is not safe for ingestion. If a pesticide sprayed lemon is used and distilled, the essential oil would contain concentrated amounts of the pesticide in the finished lemon oil. Both would smell like lemon oil, but the average consumer could not detect the toxins in these lemon oils. It takes sophisticated equipment like Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging equipment to differentiate therapeutic grade oils from a plant from a chemical counterfeit. Even Gas Chromatography is not technical enough to differentiate these oils. The difference would also be noted in the results produced by using the oils. Because there is little regulation you as a consumer do not know the actual contents of many products. For more information on secret chemicals in the fragrance industry, check out www.ewg.org, The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to testing the safety of our products, everything from cleaning and household ingredients to health and beauty products. One high quality brand even tests their oils for heavy metals contamination. You can enter in a batch code from the bottom of the bottle to see what testing was done and the results for each bottle of essential oil.
Potency: A true therapeutic grade essential oil will produce results! Before you invest in essential oils, make sure you research where a company gets their supply of plants and how they process those plants. Inferior oils that do not pass rigorous standards from companies that invest in testing their materials are going to end up in our free market someplace else.
Any company that produces a true therapeutic grade essential oil will test their products for purity and potency. Youu will see benefits as well just by giving your family the time and attention to research essential oils as an alternative to toxic chemicals and take the step to incorporate them into your healthy lifestyle.
The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. For medical treatment, see your doctor.