So why should you invest in oils that cost more?
When we are talking about essential oils, there are generally 2 different categories; therapeutic-grade oils and those that are not.
The internet is filled with a lot of articles and information. If you look up essential oils on Google I am sure a lot of different things will come up, both good and bad. I get it’s easy to be sceptic. The tricky part is people are not always good at mentioning what kind of oils they are addressing. And so if you read someone sharing about the risks of certain oils, or warning about an oil even being toxic, make sure you know what kind of oils they are talking about. If they were actually referring to non-therapeutic grade oils, they are probably right in warning you. However, if an oil is therapeutic-grade, that same oil that could be toxic can be both safe and effective for us to use.
You also have the other side of the coin! When non-therapeutic brands of oils are mistaken for therapeutic ones and are applied with an intent to support health, not only is that unlikely, but actual harm can result (!!!). So no, I do not recommend you getting oils at the grocery store or even the health food store. Most likely, these will not do much good for you other than smell nice.
So I guess the big question is: What makes an oil therapeutic?
One of the things that determines the purity and therapeutic value of an oil is its chemical constituents.
A chemists can actually create some of the individual constituents in an oil! It might even smell the same and look pretty similar, but chemists are not able to successfully recreate complete essential oils in the laboratory. Like I already said, anything less than the pure essential oil may not produce the desired results and can, in some cases, be extremely toxic!
The constituents in essential oils are very sensitive and can be affected my many different things.
For example: the parts of the plant where the oil was made from, the condition of the soil, different kind of fertilizers (whether they have chemicals in them or not), geographic region, climate, altitude, harvest season, methods, and the distillation process.
The majority of all the essential oils made in the world today are actually used by the perfume industry! And so therefore, all they really want the oils for, is their smell. For this reason, the oils are made as quick and cheap as possible, using high pressure, high temperatures, and also different chemicals.
These oils may smell just as good and cost much less, but they will lack most, it not all, of the chemical constituents necessary to produce therapeutic results.
The book, Chemistry of Essential Oils made easy, explains how a therapeutic grade essential oil should be produced:
“A therapeutic grade essential oil is defined as one that is specially distilled from plants that are cultivated organically or grown wild in a clean environment. Plants should be from the proper botanical genus, species, and cultivar. No chemical fertilizers are added to the soil, and crop cultivation is free of herbicides and pesticides. Essential oils should be extracted by steam distillation at minimum temperatures and pressures, as was done in ancient times. No chemicals solvents are to be used in the extraction process. And during the whole process, vessels of the right material should be used (like food-grade stainless steel and glass).
Also, essential oils exposed to light will polymerize and lose both their fragrances and their beneficial properties. And so genuine essential oils must be stored in light-proof containers or dark glass – like amber or blue.“
(Although essential oils should be stored in dark glass bottles, keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily prove that they are therapeutic!)
Dr. Sharnael Wolverton had a good point when it comes to oils:
“If the label on the bottle of an oil says “Topical or External use only, Do not take internally, or Do not Ingest” then there’s your red flag that itʼs been adulterated with and/or is full of chemicals and is not safe”.
She also said that shockingly, “Most lavender oils that have been tested were actually found to contain the solvent Propylene Glycol, which is anti-freeze. This is NOT good for the body even TOPICALLY, let alone internally! If you go out to a garden and pick a peppermint leaf off the plant, it is safe to eat. If the oil was 100% pure like it says it is, then you should be able to ingest it.”
Okay, let’s look at the world standards for essential oils. (Thanks again Dr. David Stewart on all your thorough research!)
AFNOR is a French agency that regulates the quality of thousands of French products, including essential oils. This is today considered the international standard for oils. However, as AFNOR authorities have pointed out, their standard focuses only on a few ingredients (usually less than 6), while complete, natural oils are mixtures of hundreds of compounds!
In fact, no essential oil has ever been completely analyzed to reveal every constituent. Essential oils are so complex, it may never be possible to discover everything that is in even one of them!
An example: For an oil to be called “Peppermint oil” (Mentha piperita) by AFNOR standards, it must contain 35-45% menthol, 10-20% menthone, 4-9% methyl acetate, and 3-7% 1,8 cineole. But these are only four compounds of hundreds present in a complete, natural oil. An unethical company could synthesize these four compounds, mix them in these proportions with a suitable filler oil and it would pass the AFNOR test. Such an oil would have the fragrance and taste like peppermint, but not its beneficial properties!
And so although this is the only standard we currently have, fulfilling the AFNOR standard is not enough to prove if an oil is of therapeutic value. Again, the amazing properties of an oil also have to do with the way it was grown, harvested, distilled, and packaged.
Some perfume and food grade oils are entirely artificial, formulated in a laboratory by synthesizing and mixing the one, two, three main compounds that dominate its natural smell or taste.
In England for example, natural wintergreen oil is virtually non-existent. Instead, laboratory-produced methyl salicylate (the main ingredient in wintergreen) is bottled and labeled “oil of wintergreen” when, in fact, it was not derived from a wintergreen plant at all!
The food and flavor industries are most concerned with economics, which is the reason they focus more on quantity than quality. Their interest is in producing oils as inexpensive as possible to maximize profits. This highly affects the process of making the oils.
There are (at least not yet) no standards for therapeutic-grade essential oils set by any government agency in North America. This makes labeling fraud a common thing. Therefore, to be sure you are getting therapeutic grade oils, you need to know your grower, your distiller, your packager, and your distributor, because anywhere along this chain of delivery, oils can be compromised.
There is nothing dishonest about producing food or perfume grade oils. The problem comes when those kind of oils are bottled, labeled, and presented as if they were therapeutic, when they are not. Hopefully in the future there will be labeling regulations for essential oils.
Actually, a common thing to do, is to take a decent grade of essential oil and dilute it 90% to 95% with an odorless, colorless solvent. And so what once was a pound of good oil becomes 10 or 20 pounds of diluted oil to be sold as if it were the original substance. This of course really multiplies the profit! Oils like that often have labels saying “genuine” or “100% pure”, which is allowed according to the regulations.
Because the little percentage of essential oils that is actually in the bottle might be “genuine” and “100% pure”. But let’s be real, an oil that diluted will not only have way less beneficial properties, but also by mixing the oil it will change the oil in not so good ways.
So, when you see a bottle labeled as “frankincense” for $10-20 for a full ounce, you can be sure it has been diluted. It’s just not possible to gather the resins (what frankincense oil is made from) from the Arabian and Somalian deserts, transport them to France or England to be distilled, and then import them to North America (or any other country) for that price AND maintain quality and purity.
Mysteriously, for every pound of frankincense distilled in the world, more than a dozen pounds are eventually sold! Pure, unaltered frankincense should cost around $140 per ounce. In Biblical times, a pound of frankincense oil was more precious than a pound of gold. In fact, in ancient times it was called “liquid gold”. When only the common name frankincense is used and the latin name is missing from the label, that is a clear warning that the content are probably not genuine, and certainly not therapeutic!
Another example is jasmine essential oil:
It takes more than 3 million jasmine blossoms, plucked in the dark hours of early morning before sunrise to produce 1 pound of oil. A pound of true pure jasmine absolute can cost $1200 or more! A pound of synthetic jasmine can be produced for less than $5. Quite the difference!!
Producing the purest of oils can also be very costly because it may require several hundred pounds, or even several thousand pounds, of plant material to extract 1 pound of pure essential oil.
One pound of pure melissa essential oil sells for $9,000-$15,000. Although this sounds extremely expensive, let me just inform you that it takes no less than 3 tons of plant material to produce that single pound of oil!
Essential Oils are like Wines
Dr. David Stewart compares essential oils to wines. This is really a great comparison. In general, drug companies donʼt like natural products because they cannot be patented, neither can they be mass produces like they want them to. When you grow something, it takes time and you have to conform to natureʼs schedule to produce it. Drug companies like synthetics where they can control everything, including their production schedule and price… But the case is, our bodies have problems with all synthetic molecules that do not exist in nature.
An essential oil of a single plant species typically contains 100 to 400 different chemical compounds. As for essential oils in general, there are thousands of different chemical compounds to be found among them. Because many of these constituents are in small amounts, there has never been even one essential oil completely analyzed. And so, the idea to synthetically manufacturing a complete essential oil is out of the question. Chemists have yet to account for all of the ingredients in just ONE bottle coming from one particularly species.
For example: Orange oil has more than 150 known constituents. Researchers suspect there may be as many as 200 additional compounds in orange oil in traces as yet to be identified. The chemistry of an essential oil begins with its genetic recipe stored in the DNA of the plant, but the final product is a result of the place and manner of growth and harvest, as well as details of distillation. The composition of essential oils vary naturally, just as the taste and aroma of wines vary year to year from the same vineyard. No two batches of essential oils are ever identical in the proportions of compounds present. This is one of the reasons essential oils work so well.
Because commercially produced products are always the same exact formulas, bacteria eventually develop resistance and then they donʼt work any more. Drug companies have tried to deal with this problem by creating stronger and stronger antibiotics and antiseptics. The problem is that such pharmaceuticals eventually become too toxic to be applied to people.
The Difference in Essential Oils
We’ve seen how there is a big difference in how essential oils are made. So why did I choose to use the Young Living oils?
Just to make it clear, this article is not intended to try to pressure you into buying anything. I just know I personally would have loved the information if I was curious and interested in essential oils.
Young Living is actually a company that is over 20 years old. They have farms, distillers and offices all around the world. In fact they are the only company in the world that owns their own farms and have the same standards on all the farms!
Young Living is very open about their process of producing the oils and always encourage their members to come see the farms and the way they do things. Young Living carefully pick the seeds from the best plants. They also make sure to provide rich soil for the plants to grow strong. They even have high standards on who is working in their fields – it must be people that love their job, and think and speak positivity. When they are distilling the oils, they use a very gentle technique with low temperatures and low pressure to make sure the oils don’t loose their quality and amazing benefits.
Young Living also tests EVERY BATCH OF OIL that is made, yet only 28% of all oils are accepted, and sold. The rest are used on Young Living farms as a natural herbicide.
There are actually no pesticides or chemicals used on their farms. They use their own essential oils to keep the bugs and pests away. You may ask, ʻThen how do they stop weeds from growing?ʼ Well, they have a crew that pulls all the weeds out by hand. On every farm.
Young Living is also the only company that tests the oils on-site instead of sending them off to be tested. This enables them to identify the right time for the harvest as well as the right time to distill the oils. You can only do that by constantly pulling out samples (every 15 min). Through their constant testing they figure out the best time of the year, the best time of the harvest, and even the best time of the day to collect the plants. In addition they also have a third-party test their oils. This ensures the best quality and that each bottle can be traced back to its source.
The Young Living oils are never adultered with chemically, nor is anything added to them to extend the amount of oil. They are pure and the real deal. Because of the high quality, Young Living Oils do not have an expiration date like other companies. In fact the oils will not go bad even if a thousand years went by. This is how, when they opened some of the old tombs in the Pyramids of Egypt, the essential oils they had placed there still had the same fragrance and qualities! Wow!
And there you have it, the reason why some bottles of lavender cost $6 and others $20. There is a difference, and you want to get the real deal with the best quality.
Young Living sells the best Essential Oils on the planet. Want to try them out? Get yourself a Starter Kit here.
Also if you’re interested in learning more about Essential Oils, check out other articles I have on this topic. One of my favorite aspects about Essential Oils is the frequency that they carry. Read more about that here: “GOOD VIBES ONLY”
– Dr. David Stewart
– Team SwiftFire: http://www.swiftfire.com