On this site I regularly mention the need to use therapeutic essential oils.
Even though essential oils have become extremely popular, the vast majority of oils produced are not therapeutic in their composition.
Over 95% of commercially available oils are either food grade essential oils or for 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 substances.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are also important for your safety.
Genuine therapeutic oils are safe whether they are inhaled, applied to the skin... and even ingested. You can't have this confidence with other grade oils.
In his book Chemistry of Essential Oils, David Stewart gives a good description of a therapeutic essential oil...
“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.
It's only by carefully producing therapeutic oils in this way that they can promote health and well-being. This is because it's only through this process that all the vital constituent parts of the therapeutic oil can be secured.
Because of the growing demand for essential oils, there is a temptation for unscrupulous businesses to profit from them by cutting corners on quality.
As a result, an unsuspecting consumer may think she is getting a good deal on an oil that will help his or her family, when in fact the oil purchased has little or 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 (which is usually a petrochemical).
Lavender is an oil that many people know has been used to support skin health. 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 lead to a burning sensation.
All this to say, you need to be sure 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.
If you are interested in learning about the supplier I use, and why I trust them, I encourage you to read about their 'Seed to Seal' approach to quality.