Adulteration of Essential Oils

posted in: Aromatherapy, Essential Oils | 0

I know that we all love the brand of essential oils we use. But the adulteration of essential oils really does happen and far more often than you might like to believe. This becomes especially noticeable when there are shortages of needed plant materials. Recently there was quite a stir when a Cinnamon Bark essential oil turned out to be Cassia essential oil. This lead to the testing of numerous other essential oils from several different companies. Quite a few oils were found to be adulterated and to me what most most concerning was finding harmful chemicals in several.

All in all these findings turned out to be a real eye opener and even my preferred essential oil company, doTERRA had to make some label corrections on 2 of their products. There were no impurities or harmful chemicals found in these oils, however a single essential oil ingredient had been missed on each of the 2 labels. When this was brought to their attention, corrections to labeling were immediate. There was no denying their mistake, they owned up and fixed it. What I would expect from a company with their kind of integrity.

adulteration of essential oils

As consumers we are very trusting and when a bottle of essential oil says 100% Pure we want to believe it. How silly of us not to, right? It says it right on the label. However let me tell you that 100% Pure only has to mean 1 thing legally and that is that there is “some” 100% Pure essential oil in that bottle. That is it!

The bottle you hold in your hand does not have to be completely full of 100% Pure essential oil. Essential oils are considered a food by the FDA and therefor are subject to food specific standards. Just like we eventually learned that Whole Grain or Natural or even the word Organic, these words don’t mean all that much and neither does the word Pure.

A problem for essential oil producers is that a bad growing season can really throw things off. Case in point, right now Blue Tansy is in severe shortage. For the most part Blue Tansy comes from the Northwest regions of Morocco. 2014 brought severe Blue Tansy shortages driving prices sky-high. This shortage has led to a significant number of adulterations and some flat-out fakes unfortunately.

One adulteration was done with Artemisias or normal tansy which is usually very high in Thujone, a know neurotoxin. There should never be anymore than a trace of Thujone, or better yet, none at all.

Blue Tansy should be very blue in color, but will get a slight tinge of green over years. Still the base will be by far blue. If a Blue Tansy you received is green, then it is NOT a Blue Tansy essential oil.

Blue Tansy can be purchased as a single oil or very often it is found in blends.

The really disturbing thing is, a few brands that have been loved and trusted are stooping to nasty underhanded tactics. Now in all fairness, and I guess it can’t be said with a certainty, but the adulteration may have occurred long before it reached a distributor.

Here in lies the problem to me…..If the distributor did not adulterate, then how on earth did a previous adulteration slip by them? Why are they not testing every batch of essential oil? Don’t their loyal customers deserve to be confident that they are getting the very best?

Recently someone who has loved and trusted a particular brand of essential oils for use in making some products noticed that a bottle of Blue Tansy she received smelled kind of off. Having heard there was a Blue Tansy shortage she spoke to the world’s leader in essential oil chemistry, Dr. Pappas at Essential Oil University. He agreed to test her sample. With Dr. Pappas’ permission here is her sample results and of subsequent testings on different samples:

Posted on Essential Oil University Dec. 24, 2014
Posted on Essential Oil University Dec. 24, 2014

This sample come from a very popular wholesaler and has very little if any Blue Tansy in it and it is particularly disturbing because the essential oils used to adulterate with, some are very high in that neurotoxic Thujone. This could be very dangerous if taken internally or even used topically. This is why I only recommend the taking of an essential oil internally if it has been certified pure with every batch.

Because of this finding Dr. Pappas decided to offer free testing of Blue Tansy to those who are concerned. His findings were sickening.

So far he has found 4 cases. Here is another:

Click on this image to be taken directly to Essential Oil University
Click on this image to be taken directly to Essential Oil University

The above sample is what Dr. Pappas calls a fake. It is a base of Nepalese chamomile (highlighted in pink) with some Atlas cedar wood oil thrown in (highlighted in blue) and most likely copaiba balsam perhaps in combination with something else (highlighted in yellow). Although Dr. Pappas does not disclose names, he does tell us that this sample does not come from a MLM.

Then there is this sample. All I can say is, it’s a hot mess! It is not Blue Tansy at all and has no Blue Tansy in it.



The color of this fake is not even blue in any sense of the word.
The color of this fake is not even blue in any sense of the word.

Dr. Pappas has found 4 cases where Nepalese chamomile is being sold as Blue Tansy. Nepalese chamomile is even the least expensive of all chamomiles. Again the brand name is not shared, but we are told it does not come from one of the MLMs.

So now you may be wondering if the Blue Tansy you own is possibly adulterated, or if there is some way you can do a little sleuthing yourself. Dr. Pappas demonstrates a nifty little testing you can do on your own:

Dr. Pappas encourages that we share this information.

It is really important that you trust the source of your essential oils, ESPECIALLY if you intend to take them internally and/or use them topically. That is why whatever is said here about ingesting essential oils ONLY applies to the brand that I use because I know they test every single batch of oil they produce, certifying it’s authenticity, purity and potency.

If you would like to know what brand of essential oils I trust, please fill out the contact information below.

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