Therapeutic grade essential oil is very different than pure grade, aromatherapy or even certified organic essential oils. So I want to take the time to explain what is unique about them.
And why it is in your best interest to use therapeutic grade essential oil if you are using them for any kind of emotional work.
Trust me; I know that it can be incredibly confusing and difficult to find really good quality products that meet the standards. I went around that gerbil wheel for years until I met my chiropractor in Florida that introduced me to therapeutic grade essential oil.
And you will know the difference too when you start using them. Eventually even your nose will know the disparity between quality and adulterated oils especially when it comes to oils such as Lavender and Rose Otto essential oils that are often adulterated. Pure rose oil doesn’t smell like a dozen roses like I often hear unless some synthetic fragrance has been added so it smells that way!
So, What’s Next?
Let me answer some frequently answered questions about therapeutic grade essential oil.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the volatile liquids of the plant. They are obtained from properly distilling any part of the part including the seeds, roots, bark, stems, leaves, fruit, flowers or branches!
What is Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil?
There are many factors that make therapeutic grade essential oil, but all of them really fit into two main categories.
Here they are:
- Environmental Factors – Where the plant is grown; the soil type; fertilizer (organic vs. chemical); altitude, etc; and
- Physical Factors – How and when the plant is harvested, how it is distilled and even how it is bottled!
These have equal importance and I will give you an example on why.
What are Chemotypes?
A chemotype (CT) is a designation that tells you that the species has different chemical constituents. This usually occurs because the plant is grown in a different area of the world or a distinct climate that alters the chemistry of the plant!
So if I grow a Thyme plant in my back yard and distill it, it will have totally different chemical constituents than the one that was cultivated in the valleys of France!
How do I know what Constituents of Essential Oils are in my Thyme Oil?
Essential Oil chemistry will tell you what is in the plant or oil and then that will help determine what medicinal properties your oil has!
What is Essential Oils Chemistry?
The chemistry of essential oil is determined by a piece of laboratory equipment called a gas chromatography or GC. If we take Thyme essential oil and analyze it by GC during the fall season it will contain 60-70% thymol and therefore it is called Thymus vulgaris CT thymol.
If we test the same thyme oil harvested during the spring the constituents are different and it is actually called Thymus vulgaris CT p-cymene! So, it is different oil and contains different chemistry!
Now let me get back to our Thyme – back yard variety….
If I don’t send the distilled oil off to a specific laboratory that tests for essential oils to find out what is in it, I really have no clue what the chemistry is!
I make a point of this because many companies, do not test the oil and the oils are not labeled with genus species or chemotype information either.
So what is it that you are really getting?
Our Thymus vulgaris CT Back Yard is great for our salad but we don’t know what constituents it contains.
How do I link the Constituents of Essential Oils to the Property?
There are various classes of compounds that make up essential oils. The two main groups of compounds are called hydrocarbons and oxygenated hydrocarbons. It is the sub-categories such as ketones, esters and phenols that really tell you the properties.
If you want to learn more about those sub-categories and chemistry click here!
Are there Standards for Testing Essential Oils?
Unfortunately in the United States there are not standards for testing therapeutic grade essential oil. And if you have read through my website you may have picked up on the fact that the FDA has very loose standards on even labeling oils.
So labeling is unreliable and in fact can be deceptive. Thyme can be simply labeled generically with no scientific name or chemotype. So what is it really?
However, the Europeans, Asians and the Middle Eastern cultures who have been using essential oils and botanical extracts for thousands of years do have some guidelines! And the companies who are serious about providing real therapeutic grade essential oil to their customers test their batches and use those standards.
The Association French Normalization Organization Regulation (AFNOR) standards or ISO certification (ISO standards) has the most reliable chemical constituent indicators of whether oil is therapeutic or not.
However, no organization regulates whether a company is meeting those standards or not; so it is up to the company to test each batch of distilled oil to make sure that it meets the standard!
As you can imagine testing is very costly in addition to the harvesting and distillation costs. As a matter of fact, the GC equipment isn’t standard equipment either. It must have a column length of 50 or 60 meters to accurately determine the oil constituents according to the certification process!
Did you know that most Laboratories in the United States use a 30 meter column for most Standardized Testing?
Yes, and this is absolutely acceptable for testing water, soil and sediment samples, but it is not good enough for analyzing essential oils.
Would you like an example of the Standards for True Lavender or More Information on other Standards for Testing? Then click here …there is more information!
What are the Methods of Extracting Essential Oils?
There are many different ways to extract essential oils and again these help separate the therapeutic grade essential oils with perfume or aromatherapy grade for sure.
Carbon-dioxide extraction and distillation methods where solvents are used are commercially manufactured processes that use chemicals to enhance or quicken the distillation process. It is a less expensive process and the oils are considered adulterated (changed).
These oils will still contain a portion of the solvent and can be dangerous when used for therapeutic reasons, so please be careful! This is how 98% of the manufactured essential oils including the perfume quality oils are made!
Distillation through steam is a very slow process and is carried out at low temperatures to maintain the quality and therapeutic benefits of the oil. Distillation temperatures, length of time the oil is distilled and the type of condenser used all have an enormous impact on the quality of the oil!
Want to learn more about essential oil distilling equipment and how to distill oils? Great, click here!
Why is it so Costly to Produce Therapeutic Grade Oil?
You mean besides everything you have already read about! Yes there is more!
You need hundreds of pounds of material to make a pound of therapeutic grade oil. For instance it takes 30 to 60 roses to make one DROP of pure therapeutic grade Rose oil! This is the case with Melissa or Lemon Balm Essential Oil as well.
So it takes far less material to make synthetic or perfume grade oil!
Therefore producing oils correctly and for therapeutic benefits is extremely time consuming and costly! The cost of the plants alone can be enough to discourage a company from producing them.
But it is worth it! The therapeutic grade essential oil is extremely concentratedand although the cost of the oil is more, we need far less and we can expect better results!
So I hope that by reading this section that you now have an appreciation for producing therapeutic grade oil. It is in art and a science and something that should be done by companies that are dedicated to the process and their consumers!
From the viscosity, volatility and medicinal properties, the chemistry profile can tell you a lot about the plant and your oil. Always consider the safety of essential oils as well.