The importance of therapeutic essential oils I regularly mention the priority that must be given to therapeutic essential oils.
Here’s a big reason why. . .
Even though it’s becoming more popularly known that essential oils are capable of providing many health benefits, the vast majority of oils produced are not therapeutic in their composition.
Over 95% of the oils that are commercially available are for flavoring food or providing a fragrance. They are not therapeutic grade essential oils.
Why is this significant?
Because you can only count on therapeutic essential oils to give you the health benefits that you hope to find in these powerful molecules.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are also important for your safety.
Genuine therapeutic oils are safe whether they are inhaled, applied to the skin, or even ingested. The same cannot be said for these applications when essential oils that are not therapeutic grade are used.
What is a therapeutic grade oil? In his book Chemistry of Essential Oils, David Stewart gives a good description of a therapeutic essential oil. There he states that a therapeutic grade essential oil is. . .
“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 and species. No chemical fertilizers are added to the soil, and crop cultivation is free of herbicides ad pesticides. Essential oils should be extracted by steam distillation at minimum temperatures and pressures, as was done in ancient times. No chemical solvents are to be used in the extraction process.”
From this definition, there are several elements that are necessary to the production of a quality therapeutic essential oil.
First, there needs to be a good plant grown in healthy soil according to organic growing methods.
Second, the plants must be patiently distilled by means of the best steam distillation procedures.
Third, the purity of the extracted oil must be maintained by avoiding the use of solvents and assuring its quality by analysis with gas chromatography and a mass spectrometer.
It’s only by carefully producing therapeutic oils in this way that they can deliver their healing benefits. This is because it’s only through this process that all the vital constituent parts of the therapeutic oil can be secured.
Beware of impostors Because of the growing demand for essential oils, there is a temptation for unscrupulous businesses to profit from them. As a result, the unsuspecting consumer thinks she may be getting a good deal on a healing oil that will help her or her family, when in fact the oil she has purchased has no therapeutic value — and may even cause harm.
Let me give you a couple of examples. . .
Frankincense is commonly available due to its sacred history. The bottle you find containing the frankincense may even say “pure frankincense” on it, giving the impression of a high quality oil. But just about all these products have been heavily diluted. They may have about 5% – 10% frankincense in them, but the rest is an inexpensive solvent (usually a petrochemical).
Lavender is an oil that many people know has been used to heal burns. But much of the lavender oil at health food stores is not therapeutic grade. In fact, some of it has been adulterated with a hybrid lavender called “lavandin” which can actually bring further burning to the skin when used to bring relief.
All this to say, you need to be assured that you are truly dealing with a therapeutic essential oil. You need to be confident that the quality has been maintained through the whole process of production, from planting to harvesting to distilling to analyzing and even to bottling.
About the only way to have this assurance is to be able to trust the supplier of your essential oils.