Did you know that about 98-99% of the essential oils on the market today are potentially hazardous to your health? Are yours? How can you know? Hopefully this post will show you some ways you can be sure whether your oils are harmful or helpful.
First, it’s important to understand that there are several different categories or grades of essential oils. Check out the graphic below. Only 1-2% of the world’s essential oils are unadulterated, or truly 100% pure essential oil and fall into that Therapeutic Grade A category.
Now these are not “official” categories, graded in any official way. The pyramid graphic simply shows a pretty good representation of the categories that different essential oils fall into. What you see at health food stores, and most online shops are either natural/food grade or perfume grade oils. They are not 100% pure, even though they may say that on the label. Currently, there are no set standards in the U.S. for essential oils. There are also some extremely lax labeling laws out there which give companies the green light to misrepresent their products and thus deceive the general public. A bottle of essential oil can carry a label that says “100% Pure” but it is only required to contain about 5% of actual 100% pure essential oil in order to say that. The 100% pure means that it contains at least some essential oil that is pure. But it usually only contains some and not all. Crazy, isn’t it?
So if there is only 5% actual essential oil in a bottle, what makes up that other 95%? Companies put all kinds of things in there to make up the difference (and drive up their profits). Sometimes, they use synthetic fragrances, designed to mimic the scents of the pure oil. These synthetics are chemicals and artificial fragrances which have been proven to cause detrimental effects on health including, but not limited to, allergic reactions, lung issues, developmental and reproductive abnormalities, organ damage, liver failure, and even cancer. Some companies put other “fillers” in their bottles including caustic agents such as antifreeze! That’s poison, folks! Much of the frankincense oil sold in the market is extended with colorless, odorless solvents like diethylphthalate or dipropylene glycol. A quick Google search of those toxins will reveal pretty quickly how harmful they can be to human health.
If those things alone aren’t enough to make you take a second look at your essential oils, consider this:
If you are using an essential oil that contains synthetics and fillers, the pure essential oil present in the mixture binds to the toxins. Because pure essential oil molecules are small enough to cross cell membranes and even the blood-brain barrier, those essential oil molecules will take the toxins along with them into every cell of your body, giving them the potential to damage your body at the cellular level. That is scary stuff!
So, how can you know if your essential oils are not fully 100% pure, and are therefore potentially hazardous to your health? Here are some red flags:
1. Bargain prices–the old saying is true: you get what you pay for. Producing 100% pure essential oils is a costly endeavor. Organic farming is expensive. Training workers in the highly specialized art and science of cultivating and distilling essential oils is pricey. Rigorous testing and monitoring does not come with a small price tag. Maintaining high standards isn’t cheap. That’s why so many companies cut, dilute and adulterate their oils. Almost all essential oil companies–even the ones that claim to sell pure therapeutic and organic oils–extract oils using solvents, or chemicals that can get more oil out of the plant material than natural means can. The result is that they can sell the oil for a cheaper price, but solvents are simply chemicals that adulterate the oils and make them impure. To produce a pure, unadulterated oil without the use of solvents costs more. Did you know it takes 60,000 roses to make 1 ounce of pure rose essential oil? That’s about 2-1/2 dozen roses per drop! Have you ever priced just a dozen roses? You simply can’t get pure rose oil for a cheap price. It takes about 200 lbs of lavender plant material to make just 1 pound of pure lavender oil. There is a vast difference between a $9 bottle of Lavender and a $25 bottle. You can’t buy that much real lavender plant and sell it for $9 a bottle. A bottle of Frankincense for $25? Unless it’s a tiny little bottle, then there is no way it’s the real stuff. It simply costs more than that to produce it. Sure, fillers and solvents allow for cheaper prices, but at what cost to your health?
2. It comes from a health food store chain. As I said before, most of these oils fall into the Grade B or C category on the pyramid. Sometimes, you can find pure essential oils (like Young Living) at mom-and-pop-type health food stores. But if you are shopping at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market, or a health food chain like these, you won’t be buying 100% pure oils there. Why is that? Pure essential oils are potent and those who use them need to be educated in how to safely and accurately use them. You can’t get that kind of education from a large health food chain, so the companies that produce high quality oils don’t sell them there.
3. The company that produces them can’t answer these questions sufficiently (compiled from the Essential Oil Desk Reference and Dr. David Stewart):
1. Does their company own any farms on which to raise its own organically grown herbs for oils? And if they do, are they farming land that is clean, uncultivated and/or untilled for at least 50 years prior to use, meaning it is free from herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and guaranteeing that the soil is fit for growing plants organically?
2. If their company purchases oils from outside suppliers, do they personally visit and inspect the distilleries and farms of those suppliers regularly to observe if the herbs are grown organically, i.e. without pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers?
3. Do they know if the grower has a testing laboratory on the farm to determine when the crop is at its peak for oil harvesting? Are the distillation facilities part of the farm where the plants are grown (so oils are freshly distilled), or do herbs wait days to be processed and lose potency?
4. Does their supplier use low pressure and low temperature to distill essential oils so as to preserve all of their fragile chemical constituents? Are the distillation cookers fabricated from costly food-grade stainless steel alloys to reduce the likelihood of the oils chemically reacting with metal? Do they know if the the cookers in the distilleries of their suppliers have domed lids or cone shaped lids? Most stills use dome-shaped lids. Cone topped cookers deliver a better grade of oil than dome tops.
4. Do they know if their distillery personnel are fully trained in the art and science of distilling, exactly how to pack the cookers, how to administer the steam, how to maintain minimum temperatures and pressures throughout the cooker, and how to continuously monitor the process throughout distillation to make sure the oil produced contains all of its components in the proper proportions?
5. Do they know if their suppliers supplement the distillation process with solvents to extract additional oil from the plant matter? Do they know if their suppliers bottle their oils directly from the distillery without modifying the composition of the natural oil by adding anything or taking anything away?
6. Does their company have their own fully equipped testing laboratory to verify an oil’s composition? Do they put each batch of essential oils through multiple chemical analyses to test for purity and therapeutic quality? Do they also send their oils to be tested by independent labs? Do their essential oils meet AFNOR and ISO standards?
7. How many years has their supplier been doing this? How much experience and expertise in the field do they have?
Just one last note: If you are purchasing essential oils for their therapeutic benefits, buying synthetic oils will not get you real results. Synthetic and adulterated oils don’t work like pure oils. They can’t reproduce all the constituents that give pure oils their therapeutic properties in a laboratory. If you’ve tried an inferior brand and gotten less-than-stellar results, that’s why. You can’t get therapeutic results from a non-therapeutic grade oil. What makes an oil therapeutic grade? There are no specific regulations that govern that term or make it official. But if you’re using oils that meet all the standards listed in the questions to ask your company above, then you’ve got oils with therapeutic properties, thus making them “therapeutic grade.”
So, are your essential oils hazardous to your health? If you are looking for 100% pure, top quality essential oils that will help and won’t harm you, I have done the homework and research for you! I can guarantee you that the only company you will find who produces therapeutic grade oils with all the stipulations and important factors it takes to do so is Young Living Essential Oils. They have been around longer than anyone in the business, and know essential oils. They are the only ones that own any of their own farms. And they are the only ones who follow the rigorous testing and hold up to the standards that producing therapeutic grade oils requires.
I will be uploading some videos to this post soon that give a little more detail to the Seed to Seal Guarantee that is Young Living’s promise with every bottle of its essential oil. It shows from start to finish a bit of what they do to ensure that what you are getting in your essential oils is nothing but the pure, potent oil. It’s truly amazing! Until I get them uploaded here, you can go HERE to check out the videos on their website.
And if you’re ready to get some Young Living Essential Oils, you can purchase them HERE.
As always, I welcome any questions or comments! Hopefully this post has been helpful! Have a blessed day!