You may have been hearing a lot about the health benefits of essential oils lately. Most of what you have heard may be true. Essential oils are vital to the survival of any plant. The beautiful scents we smell are aromatic compounds that serve a variety of protective, regenerative and reproductive purposes. These compounds discourage unfriendly pests, attract healthy insects and help the plant to health from infection and physical injuries. Essential oils have endless benefits to our own health. Where to buy essential oils is probably a question you have.
With the enormous popularity of essential oils you can find them in almost any store from convenience markets at the gas station to big box discount stores. Pharmacies and health food stores carry them too. The prices vary widely. You can find some essential oils for a couple a dollars a bottle, to well over $100 for a small 5 ML bottle. So how do you know, where to buy essential oils?
If quality is important to you than there are some things you need to know.
- There is no regulation or quality control of essential oils. They are governed by no agencies.
- Adulteration of essential oils is a very common practice. Often toxic, cancer causing synthetic fragrances are used to reduce costs.
- So called pure essential oils often contain little to none of the essential oil labeled on the bottle.
- There are grades of essential oils. Perfume oils for fragrance, food grade essential oils for flavoring & therapeutic grade oils for health.
- Where plant material is sourced is important. Climate and soil conditions are a key factor in quality essential oil production.
- Harvesting plays an important role. If a tiny flower is picked to early or to late much of the health promoting properties will be lost.
- The distillation process is crucial. A process that is to long, to short, not hot enough or too hot can destroy an essential oil.
- Quality control or third-party testing should be done to ensure authenticity, purity & potency.
Regulation of Essential Oils
This may be a surprise to you, but there is no one to answer to in the essential oil industry. Essential oils for the most part are simply considered a food product. In many cases they are simply extracted from foods we consume. Like the piece of fruit you purchase at the market, they don’t have to label them with facts like what pesticides or chemical fertilizers were used in their production. The same is true with essential oils.
Adulteration To Essential Oils
Adulteration of essential oils is a huge problem and companies who make adulteration a practise give essential oils a bad name. In 2016 there was a group that independently started testing various essential oils from companies ranging from very tiny to the largest essential oil companies in the world. Adulteration was found all over. In fact one of the largest essential oils companies was found to have adulterated some of its essential oils with petroleum products. Another bottle of Cinnamon essential oil contained no actual cinnamon but rather a far less expensive essential oil, Cassia. This sent many of their loyal users reeling. Trust for many was lost.
Little To None of Labeled Essential Oil In The Bottle
Trying to fool the unwary consumer is common practice. As mentioned above with the Cinnamon, this is a very common practice in the world of essential oils. Cassia, smells and tastes to the undiscerning palate to be Cinnamon. But it’s not. Cassia has many of its own health benefits but it is different from Cinnamon. Cassia is far less expensive and it is easy for distributors to bait and switch.
There was a Blue Tansy shortage awhile back which led many producers to resort to some of these underhanded tactics. Quality Blue Tansy is quite expensive and by using other plant material with that characteristic blue color that comes from Blue Tansy some continued to sell what they called Blue Tansy. Greed brought on quite a bit of adulteration until some educated essential oil users started smelling something was not right.
Essential Oil Grades
I never thought about this before I really started learning about essential oils. Essential oils have been a part of our lives long before most of us ever heard of essential oils as we know them today. These are the lessor grades of essential oils.
Perfume oils are used in all kinds of products. Essential oils really are in many perfumes, some very expensive one at that. One of my favorite essential oils is Vetiver. I don’t really care for the fragrance, but I love the way it calms the nerves. However, some people really love the fragrance as it is in some very expensive perfumes available today.
These fragrance essential oils are found in soaps, cosmetics, and we even see companies jumping on the band wagon labeling fabric softeners, dish soaps, air freshener and laundry soap with the words, Essential Oils. These types of essential oils can be purchased fairly inexpensively in large quantities, but always contain the word, “Not for internal use” or “Not for human consumption”. Usually these oils are produced with little consideration to any quality control. Sometimes they just need to meet a smell test.
Then there are the food grade essential oils. Here you have been consuming them most often as flavorings. Where do you think Peppermint or Spearmint comes from? These flavoring oils are in gum, toothpaste, candy and even serve as flavoring in many food items.
Again, the quality of the essential oil isn’t priority in most cases. What the soil conditions or the rain fall totals were don’t matter. Just what it tastes like is important. Usually manufacturers don’t care about what chemical fertilizer or pesticide was used to grow the peppermint, they just need some peppermint.
Finally, there are the Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils. Out of all the essential oil production in the world, therapeutic grade essential oils make up just a tiny percentage. These essential oils are intended to promote health and wellness. Specific species of plants are chosen, distilling processes are much more important.
An even tinier percentage of therapeutic grade essential oils are those that are CPTG or Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. What does that mean? To me, it means everything. Any essential oil company can do their own quality control and verify that they are pure, authentic and free of unwanted chemical compounds. To me, that’s kind of like the fox guarding the hen-house. It was a company like this, that got caught in 2016 passing off Cassia for Cinnamon and they were not to happy when they got caught, playing the blame game. There was plenty of blame to go around.
This why I only buy my essential oils from doTERRA. Their essential oils are CPTG, they have been certified pure by a third-party and verified. This is why it’s important.
- Purity is the most important of all essential oil characteristics. Without purity you are at risk for introducing impurities into your body. Impurities like heavy metals, germs and other adulterants. Adulterants that can cause irritation, negative side effects or they can even make us sick.
- When a bottle is labeled CPTG you can be assured that there are no fillers, no synthetics or any other harmful contaminants that could reduce their effectiveness.
- CPTG insures potency, purity and consistency in every batch. This is really important. You need to be able to trust that what you are using on your child is not going to be more potent than what you used on them last time.
- A CPTG essential oil will have been grown under the proper growing conditions. The harvesting done at the precise moment and distilling done as an art. With all of the poor practices out there it is vital that appropriate analysis be done to insure that the proper constituents are present in any given essential oil.
- The proper species of a plant is the first step when looking to achieve those profound therapeutic health benefits. doTERRA sources their plant materials from around the world from expert growers and harvesters to ensure the highest quality plant materials.
The CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade quality protocol includes these tests:
- Organoleptic testing
- Microbial testing
- Gas chromatography
- Mass spectrometry
- Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
- Chirality testing
- Isotopic analysis
- Heavy metal testing
At one time very few tests were needed to prove quality. Sadly the techniques for producing synthetic oils has become even better which requires a greater need for additional testing. We stop at nothing to ensure quality.
What it boils down to is, what are you looking for in an essential oil? If you are looking to have a nice smell and you are comfortable with the quality assurance of a given essential oil company than your choices are still quite large. If however you want essential oils that will have a profound affect on the health of your family and that has a stellar record of producing the purest and most throughly tested essential oils on the planet than you will choose doTERRA like I have done. So as to the question where to buy essential oils, it really does matter.
DSHEA Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.
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