I’m all about if you have a good thing, share. So, it’s been pretty exciting to see the proliferation of essential oils out there. Even the Big Box retailer is offering essential oils. But not all essential oils are created equal, and depending on how you want to use essential oils, knowing the origins of the essential oils you purchase, how they’re processed and what’s in that little bottle are paramount.
This is an issue that’s been on my heart lately, due to a friend’s experience with two different types of essential oils. I’ll get to that in a moment. I’m all about transparency, too. I am a Young Living Essential Oils distributor. Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information shared in this blog is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any illness, nor is it meant to replace professional medical attention or advice. All advice and testimonies are based on the use of the Young Living brand of essential oils, specifically. Use and application of this information is done solely at your own risk.
If you are the teeniest bit interested in essential oils, I highly recommend The Essential Oil Truth: The Facts Without The Hype by Jen O’Sullivan. The book is a little over 100 pages, chock full of research and does not name or endorse any specific brand of essential oils.
According to O’Sullivan, essential oils are basically the life juices of plants and trees and have been used by humans for thousands of years. The majority of essential oils are produced through steam distillation. The best essential oils are those that are distilled for 1-4 hours, when the most potent, volatile therapeutic qualities of the oil can be reaped. This is known as first distillation. After the first few hours, the qualities of the oil that is being distilled changes. When an oil is distilled for 16-22 hours, this is known as a complete distillation. Most soaps and perfumes are made with complete distillation oils because their fragrance is sweeter and more pleasing that the earthy smell of first distillation oils. This is because the most potent qualities within the plant boils faster than the least potent qualities, so a first distilled essential oil is going to be more therapeutic than a completed distilled essential oil. How do you know if your essential oil is a first distillation or a complete distillation? If it’s not on the bottle label or in any informational materials, ask the company that produced the essential oil.
Whether an essential oil is a first distillation or a complete distillation impacts not only the therapeutic value of the oil, but also the price. A company is able to get more essential oil through complete distillation, as opposed to first distillation. There is also the issue of purity, and whether anything has been added to the essential oil.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate essential oils. The agency does monitor and prohibit essential oil companies and users from making medical claims (see above disclaimer). The FDA also has a list of essential oils that are Generally Regarding as Safe (GRAS) for consumption. The tricky part of reading an essential oil label is that it can say 100% pure lavender essential oil, for example, but contain only some of the 100% pure lavender essential oil, according to O’Sullivan.
So, what else is in that bottle of 100% pure lavender essential oil that contains only some of the 100% pure lavender essential oil? Some labels may not say, but here are two giveaways that something other than pure, unadulterated essential oils are in the bottle: the words “fragrance” or some form of “do not ingest” or “not for consumption”.
“Fragrance” could be anything. I’ve purchased “all natural” lavender soap before that had lavender essential oil and fragrance listed as ingredients. I couldn’t stand the perfume smell of the soap. I’m allergic to perfume/fragrance. I’m not allergic to essential oils.
Remember that the FDA considers some essential oils safe for consumption (see paragraph above)? The list doesn’t say lavender essential oil and additive are safe for consumption.
Which brings me to my friend’s experience with two types of essential oils. Her very young nephew has a skin condition. I had given her a roller of pure essential oils heavily diluted with pure grape seed oil (a carrier oil), heavily diluted because he is a young child. He has had success using the roller. Another friend gave her some essential oils to try, and the mixture irritate his skin. My friend looked at the essential oil label, and it had the word “fragrance” on it.
The reason her story has weighed on my heart is because I know firsthand how wonderfully potent and helpful pure essential oils are. I also know pure essential oils should be handled with care, kept out of reach of children and pets, and used accordingly. If an essential oil label says not to ingest, then don’t, even if it’s on the FDA GRAS list. It’s not pure, as in something else is in the bottle besides the essential oil. It’s use is intended as a fragrance.
Most of the essential oils available through retail are intended to be used aromatically. If you desire to use an essential oil topically or internally, make sure the essential oil is indeed pure, a first distillation and labeled appropriately. As O’Sullivan points out, your skin is your body’s biggest organ, and essential oils are easily absorbed through your skin into your body’s cells. If you desire to use essential oils internally, make sure the label clearly states that the essential oil can be used as a dietary supplement or has supplemental facts listed.
Which brings me full circle to the fact that all essential oils are not created equal. If you are interested in holistic, natural ways to boost your overall health and well-being and are considering using essential oils, please research and don’t be afraid to ask the company that produces the essential oils in which you are interested the origins of their essential oils, how they’re processed and what all is in that little bottle.
I intend to keep researching and learning as much as I can about essential oils. My goals include to 1) read at least one article about or a few pages from a book on essential oils daily, 2) learn about a new essential oil or a new way to use an essential oil each week (which I will share on this blog), and 3) become a certified aromatherapist this year (I’ll keep you posted).
Until next time, keep researching and learning.
I began using essential oils aromatically, with a diffuser to help ease year-round sniffles, sneezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes. I’ve since used them topically and internally to support my body’s immune system, overall health and well-being, and moods.
After much research, I chose to use Young Living Essential Oils because they own their own farms, control their processes from seed to seal, and never adulterate their essential oils. I’m nerdily excited that I’ll get to visit one of their farms and witness their distillation process in June.
I’m also nerdily excited that Young Living Essential Oils recently launched their Vitality dietary essential oil line, which features some of their best-loved dietary essential oils now labeled for internal use. The line includes 27 pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils with four distinct categories – Herb, Spice, Citrus and Supplement. From now through Janaury 31, I’m offering $25 toward the purchase of these oils, other oils or the lining of your pocket with the purchase of a Premium Starter Kit. If you catch my blog, after January 31, I’ll extend the offer to you.