Essential Oil Quality
How can you know your essential oil quality level is high or low?
It's all well and good if the products you are buying are going to be used for things like candles but what if you intend to flavor your food with them, or apply them to your skin?
I am sure you will agree that any product that you are going to put in your mouth or absorb through your skin should at least be considered safe for consumption.
note: None of the information provided on this site should be used to replace that of your medical professional. See Disclaimer
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Warning! Don't Go Cheap
When it comes to essential oils, cheap usually means chemically made. Check out my page on Essential Oil Quality.
Dr. Josh Axe says if you choose one of the certified organic essential oil brands on the market today, you can expect positive results. However, he warns against lower quality synthetic and altered oils, saying they may actually do more harm than good. That's because artificial fragrances are linked to a multitude of serious health concerns including infertility, obesity lung disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer's Disease.
I agree with his position but for your safety I will take this a bit further. Many refer to these quality oils as "therapeutic grade" and extol their virtue as being safe. This may or may not be entirely true.
The fact is therapeutic grade is a term that is thrown around a lot these days and on the surface sounds pretty good but my recommendation to you is to ...
Always Look for Clinical Grade Oils
There are lots of less expensive oils on the market which were designed
to be used for recreational use and in the flavoring industry but for
clinical, medical and health care processionals they need to be held to
much more exacting standards - Clinical Grade standards!
The fact is there are four basic types of oils and each one has different requirements for essential oil quality.
- Fragrance oils for use in candles, perfumes, potpourri and other household products. In this case we are not so concerned about quality as long as the smell is pleasing. Even here there may be concerns about health issues arising from inhaling them because in many cases synthetic products are used and in effect they add to a larger "air pollution" concern.
- Oils used in the food flavoring industry.
- So called "certified oils" from marketing companies attempting to gain recognition with claims such as "therapeutic grade" which usually only means that they were not able to obtain a "clinical grade" rating. (we will discuss therapeutic grade shortly)
- Clinical Grade Oils are held to a more exacting essential oil quality for use in medical and clinical use.
What is Therapeutic Grade?
Marketing companies create their own certification rules but are not held to any standard therefore quality can be and often is, compromised.
The first 2 categories follow very loose requirements and in many
cases can and do include synthetic oils.
Synthetic oils are often good enough for
the 1st category but when it comes to consumption such as the oils in
category 2, I think we need to be more careful about what we put in our
mouths, don't you?
At the very least, any oil that we are going to consume internally needs to be "food grade" which includes a government established requirement known as the "Generally Recognized as Safe" or GRAS standard.
Therapeutic grade oils would appear to be the best option but unfortunately we have a problem. There is no mutually-agreed upon standard to point to when we say an oil is therapeutic grade, nor is there any regulatory body governing this grade so what are we actually saying? It all boils down to just a marketing term like many others.
governmental agency or generally accepted organization "grades"
or "certifies" essential oils as "therapeutic grade,"
"medicinal grade," or "aromatherapy grade" in
the U.S. There is no formally approved grading standard used consistently
throughout the essential oil industry.
When it comes to therapeutic grade oils, quality is implied rather than assured.
To ensure you are getting good essential oil quality that is consistent batch to batch, look for clinical grade oils.
Who Markets Therapeutic Grade Oils?
A quick Google search revealed the following companies that claim therapeutic grade oils:
- Young Living™ Essential Oils.
- Edens Garden™ Essential Oils.
- dōTERRA® Essential Oils.
- Plant Therapy® Essential Oils.
- Kis Oils.
- Healing Solutions® Essential Oils.
- Calily™ Essential Oils.
- Fabulous Frannie® Essential Oils
For the simple reason that there is no regulatory body that certifies an oil as therapeutic grade, there are probably a lot more companies that also make this claim.
note: I will not name names but adulterated oils have been discovered in some of the above marketers.
What Does Clinical Grade Mean?
Clinical grade simply means that the oil meets the standards required for clinical trials. It means it is pure and natural (from the dictionary meaning of these words) and contains only the oil advertised on the label.
- Any published clinical trial would have been carried out using "clinical grade oils" to ensure the results and conclusions are valid.
- Any company marketing "clinical grade oils" will have created their oils to match those used in clinical trials.
Like the term pharmaceutical grade there is no authoritative body yet, which certifies an oil as clinical grade, but unlike pharmaceutical grade there are criteria that need to be met in order to use the term.
Any company that claims to market clinical grade oils should be able to provide testing results on each and every batch. If the company has proof of their claim, they will logically want to show it to their customers and will likely have a link on their website to do so. If no such link is provided I would suspect that, at the very least, the company is unable to prove their claim of clinical grade.
So where does that leave you?
How can you possibly know if a company markets clinical grade oils?
Well, if you are unable to confirm that it IS clinical grade because the company does not provide this information, we could ask the question ....
How Do You Know it's Probably NOT Clinical Grade?
If the oil you are purchasing is cheap it is probably artificially made using chemicals to produce the "scent" you are looking for.
The truth of the matter is, it is probably easier to identify oils that are not clinical grade than it is to identify the ones that are.
The best way to reduce your choices is to look at the actions of the supplier. Here are a few of the things they do or don't do that should raise some flags concerning the essential oil quality of their products.
- Attaining a high level of essential oil quality is not cheap. As they say, "you get what you pay for" so if the oil you are about to purchase is a real bargain you are probably not getting a quality oil and you may not want to take it internally or apply it to your skin.
The fact is that most cheap oils are not even oils; they are chemically made to provide the scent of the real thing.
- I have heard/read comments to the effect that you should stay away from MLM companies because they are too expensive. This is probably the farthest from the truth. Typically MLM companies want to represent the best products they can because that is what drives their success.
If an MLM company sells expensive oils it is probably because they are marketing good quality oils; Not necessarily clinical grade oils, but good quality oils none the less. (don't read this as an endorsement because I am sure there are exceptions to this observation)
- They don't claim their essential oils to be clinical therefore they probably aren't. Think about it. If you were offering clinical grade oils wouldn't you want everybody to know it?
Clinical grade means it is as pure and efficacious as we can possibly make it therefore the best essential oil quality is expected; it meets the standards required to be included in clinical trials. Who wouldn't want to use this term when describing their product?
- They say their oils are pharmaceutical grade which can be misleading.
The term "pharmaceutical grade" implies the essential oil quality that "clinical grade" ensures, however every oil salesman in the market uses the "pharmaceutical" term to describe their oils so it boils down to who do you trust?
- If an oil can normally be used internally but is labeled “Not for Internal Use” it is a sure give-away that the manufacturer has used chemicals, fillers or additives that are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for consumption.
I believe it is for this reason that many "experts" say you should never consume an essential oil. They are simply ruling on the side of caution because they know that many suppliers use chemicals when developing their oils.
The fact is most of the essential oil world follow guidelines developed for use by the perfume industry and are designed to produce products with a nice smell. They don’t care about medicinal usage therefore do not require ingredients or processes that ensure your safety.
Who knows for sure, the oil you are purchasing may not even be an essential oil. There are all kinds of chemicals that can replicate the smell of an essential oil; even some that can be consumed; look at the processed food industry for example.
"Don't get me started"
A Final Word About Essential Oil Quality
Finding the best quality essential oils on the market may not be easy but ...
Please understand, just because a supplier's oils are not clinical grade doesn't mean they are not perfectly good for your purpose.
If an oil is true to the idea behind the term "pharmaceutical grade" it should be perfectly fine to use. It just means that you may have to be a little more careful about the uses you put them to.
I myself prefer to place my trust in oils that I know for sure are clinical grade because then the essential oil quality is the "top-of-the line"
Any questions? Contact Me.
For more information see my page on Clinical Grade Essential Oils.
* Share your comments at the bottom of this page!
Where Can I Get Quality Oils?
For the name of the high quality, Clinical Grade Essential Oils supplier that I use, complete this form to send me an email.
I will respond ASAP so you can obtain some of the best essential oils available on the market today... Guaranteed!
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