I’ve been taking Aura Cacia lavender oil internally – a couple of drops sling with do terra lemon and peppermint in water – swishing then swallowing. Is it a bad idea for me to take the Aura Cacia internally like this? I’ve been completely ignorant! I’m doing this to stay away from pharmaceuticals so definitely don’t want to be causing any worse problems. Thanks in advance…
This post is the second in a weekly, multi-part series on Using Essential Oils. Last week we discussed Basic Essential Oils for Daily Living – how to get started using essential oils in your daily life. Here we will explore considerations to help you choose high quality essential oils. What should you look for? How can you guarantee an essential oil is pure? What does that even mean? What about cost? We invite you to learn how to choose an essential oil here and then join us weekly for additional articles on topics ranging from essential oil safety, using essential oils in herbalism, and carrier oils.
“Quality essential oils” can mean many things, depending on how you intend to use the oils. To a perfume formulator, geranium essential oil spiked with artificial chemicals to enhance the fragrance might be considered a “quality essential oil”. To a massage therapist, a natural lavender oil diluted in a soothing base might be considered a high quality essential oil. To a doctor addressing bacterial challenges, only a truly pure, medicinal strength, wild crafted oregano oil that is high in natural carvacrol content would be considered a quality essential oil.
All of the reputable essential oil companies in this comparison are ones that have made a name for themselves in at least half of the States. I didn’t chart brands that are only known vaguely in a few States. All of the essential oil brands on this map are popular, well-established, and trustworthy. Now the question only is: will they work for you?
I first began studying aromatherapy in the 90s. Thankfully, I never got caught up with particular MLM companies that make marketing claims and promote practices that I find concerning and unsafe. I was avoiding these companies for other reasons and did not realize until I had inquired with NAHA's president at the time, Kelly Holland Azzaro, that the term "therapeutic grade" was apparently coined by one MLM in particular.
The Ananda Apothecary may be a slightly lesser-known name and strangely hard to pronounce. However, it’s a company of true essential oils people where you can buy almost any type and variety of essential oil you can imagine. Most importantly, they offer wild crafted essential oils, which are oils made from wild harvested plant materials and not plants grown on farms. You can also purchase organic oils certified by both the USDA and Ecocert ICO, and specially AGED essential oils. If all of these things are new to you, find more details in my full brand review here.
But…. and this is a very big but… like any medicine, they have a list of limitations and potential risks if they are not used correctly. Let’s examine some of them. Oh and if you don’t like rants, then maybe you don’t want to read this post (but you should because I make some very good points). If you’re a rep or a convert to brands like doTERRA and Young Living, I hope this helps you, because much of what you’ve been told simply isn’t true.
Processing: Because of the growing popularity of essential oils and aromatherapy, there are many products on the market that may not be suitable for clinical use. They can be found nearly everywhere, from health food stores to discount stores to the Internet. These products may include pure essential oils, but sometimes they are adulterated or diluted. Such adulterations are difficult to identify.
The good news is that the guessing work will be gone in the next few years. Gary Young, founder of Young Living has been asked by the FDA to set up a standards for the United States. So it will not matter what the customer service or distributors say as we will be able to refer to the FDA classify the oil. This will make the true pure oils to stand up and be noticed but also for safety for our health to take the purest of the pure oils for our medicines!
The oil of frankincense is an ancient remedy for infection, and recently its ability to fight cancer and support the immune system in general has begun to be studied rigorously, particularly in Europe. Scientists believe the main element in frankincense which fights cancer is a compound known as acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, or AKBA for short. There have been many documented cases of frankincense curing cancer labeled as "incurable" by mainstream medicine, such as ovarian cancer and brain cancer. Research indicates it can prevent uterine cancer or help heal it.
Chemical constituents of Boswellia sacra essential oil fractions were dependent on duration and temperature of hydrodistillation. For example, when essential oils collected from 0–2 h (Fraction I), 8–10 h (Fraction II), and 11–12 h (Fraction III) at 78°C were compared, longer distillation produced higher percentages of sesquiterpenes, between alpha-copaene and caryophyllene oxide (Table? 1). All three fractions were primarily composed of monoterpenes (82.77-90.67%), including alpha-thujene, beta-pinene, and myrcene. Among the monoterpenes, alpha-pinene was the major compound present in all essential oil fractions, ranging from 65.49% to 78.45%. As anticipated, the abundance of alpha-pinene decreased with longer and higher temperature distillation due to its highly volatile nature. Compounds such as borneol, dimethyl ether orcinol, allo-aromadendrene, gamma-cadinene, and caryophyllene oxide were only present in Fraction III essential oil…
Therapeutic essential oils or medicinal essential oils must be of the highest quality, potency and purity for demanding medicinal applications and maximum effectiveness. Therapeutic essential oils must also be well balanced, natural and of high energy for holistic applications. The following are qualities to look for in a true therapeutic or medicinal essential oil:
ESPECIALLY since I had bought a natural “cat spray” a year or so ago that (by the smell of it) is just full of mostly lavender essential oil. It’s marketed as “all-natural and organic” and I got it ’cause sometimes my big cat sneaks out of the house and then comes back smelling all funky. I’ve used it on him twice, but I’ve put it far, far away until I figure this out.
The unfortunate thing is that the information is just passed from rep to rep down the MLM sales chain and the layperson doesn’t question if it is correct or if it could do harm. How easy would it be to assume that you could put a drop of wintergreen oil in a glass of water to relieve pain because you can with all of the others right? Ingesting wintergreen oil is like taking a large quantity of aspirin – highly toxic. However, these oils are sold as harmless, safe and natural. They couldn’t hurt you, right?
Safety involves a state of being free from risk or occurrence of injury, harm, or danger. Individuals who practice aromatherapy need to be aware of the safety issues involved with using essential oils in order to avoid potential adverse effects. According to Burfield, “Although many essential oils are potentially hazardous materials, if handled in the appropriate manner, the risks involved in their use can be very small. So therefore, most commercially offered essential oils are safe to use for the purpose intended in a domestic/ professional or clinical environment.”1 The informed use of essential oils may create occasional irritation or minor discomfort, but it is extremely unlikely to create serious injury or lasting physical problems,2 particularly when basic guidelines are followed.
I am adding cinnamon leaf and clover EOs to my mouthwash with peppermint and tea tree EOs. Before I felt safe using the undiluted EOs but with these new additions I feel like I need carrier. The other ingredients are water, aloe water, baking soda, xylitol and witch hazel. Should I add a carrier oil and which one do you recommend? I was thinking avocado, sesame, grapeseed or olive oil. If the witch hazel has alcohol could this act as a carrier? How much alcohol per how many drops? I’ve heard its about 3-5 drops per teaspoon carrier oil (3-5%). Great post!
Of course aromatic materials were used in Biblical times for various medicinal, religious and ceremonial purposes but these materials would not have been essential oils, at least not by todays definition of being steam distilled products. This would have been impossible given that steam distillation had not yet even been discovered! Most people attribute the discovery of true steam distillation to a Persian scientist named Avicenna (Ibn Sina) in the 11th century. There was certainly no steam distillation over 2300 years earlier in King Tut’s time. Aromatic products used during these ancient times would have been of a crude solvent extracted nature using fats and pressed oils and the like and would not have been very concentrated (not to mention that extracted products yield very different chemistry than distilled products) and therefore their use cannot really be related to how we should use the steam distilled essential oils of today.
There are several EO blends or normal oils that are safe, like oregano. There are others that are toxic to the body internally, but fine diffused. When in doubt, do the research. Obviously, if you can eat the plant, like cinnamon, the oil, if taken in a gel tab isn’t toxic. Drinking it directly will burn. Hot oil vs cool oil. Some like lemon, lime, orange, peppermint are fine in water. Learn each oil, as each one, like each child, has its own properties and should be used in the right way.
Because essential oils are obviously all-natural, it might be easy to assume that they're gentle and largely unreactive. This isn't the case at all—by definition, it's extremely potent stuff. "On average, they are up to 75 times more powerful than dried herbs," says Avery. As such, "essential oils must be handled with care." This means that a couple drops go a long way, and aside from very specific oils (more on that later), essential oils should always be diluted properly before applying them directly to skin. Whether or not essential oils should be ingested is actually a highly debated topic, and many argue that it isn't safe unless specifically advised by a doctor or expert.
Natural essential oils by their very nature will vary slightly from season to season. We allow nature to take its course and do not add isolated compounds to the oil to try to standardize the naturally occurring variations of a particular oil. We take both the organoleptic (sight, smell, and taste) and chemical properties into account when selecting and testing NOW essential oils.
Great article! I like the way everything is explained in detail. I love essential oils and use few kinds for aromatherapy, but the thing I always wanted to do is to include essential oils in my homemade cleaning solutions. In your article I found all the information and advices I needed, so now I already can use essential oils for cleaning too. Thank you for the hints!
As for “therapeutic grade” essential oils, I agree with Dawn-Mari that synthetic or toxic chemicals are best avoided in aromatherapy. (Though I would add that these terms are not synonymous, and some essential oils naturally contain toxic constituents.) Also, I totally agree with the sentiment that essential oils used in aromatherapy should be of a grade suitable for the task. I’m just saying that there is no independent, industry standard that is known as “therapeutic grade.”
Eco-Control is an inspection agency and a certification authority for ecological products and quality assurance system in the non-food area. They certify and control standards for natural and organic cosmetic. Part of it are e.g. NaTrue, ICADA, Demeter and the BDIH standard. The Eco-Control developed their own seal for ecological raw materials and quality assurance systems for producers of raw materials and natural cosmetic. The ecological quality of a product is certified, e.g. essential oils. They are pursuant to “EG BIO” and pursuant to ISO 9235 or aroma regulation proved with regard to the manufacturing process.
The 4-ounce bottle of Eucalyptus essential oil from NOW Foods is a bargain when you compare its price to what you’d pay for a much smaller bottle from a different company. But the 100% pure and natural oil comes from steam-distilled leaves and branches of the Eucalyptus Globulus tree. There are no shortcuts in the manufacturing process or fillers in the bottle.
Plant Therapy’s labels are a bit scarce in their information. They display the proper Latin names and the USDA Organic logo, but that’s it. Instead of including the country of origin and other important notes — which can be found on the website — they have a long description of what the oils could be used for and how to use it, followed by an FDA disclaimer so they won’t get in trouble.
Olbas Oil may cause problems even when not applied directly to the eyes. The mother of a 4-month-old boy placed several drops of Olbas Oil in his right nostril in an attempt to help his respiratory infection, not realizing that the product warns against use in infants. The child immediately showed signs of respiratory distress, and was taken to the emergency room. Two hours after admission his eyes became inflamed, and examination revealed bilateral superficial corneal scarring. He also had conjunctivitis, and could not open his eyes. They were flushed with saline over four days, and he recovered with no residual scarring (Wyllie and Alexander 1994).
So just to be clear – there is no “therapeutic grade” for any essential oil that relates to AFNOR, the EC, or ISO, and there are no separate essential oil standards set by AFNOR or the EC. So we are left with one thing – YL conforms to ISO standards. Great, that’s a good thing, but it’s far from unique. I think I already said most of this in the article that these comments derive from.
5mL Lavender Essential Oils; 5mL Sweet Orange Essential Oils; 5mL Tea Tree Essential Oils; 5mL Eucalyptus Essential Oils; 5mL Lemongrass Essential Oils; 5mL Peppermint Essential Oils; 5mL Bergamot Essential Oils; 5mL Frankincense Essential Oils; 5mL Lemon Essential Oils; 5mL Rosemary Essential Oils; 5mL Cinnamon Essential Oils; 5mL Ylang-Ylang Essential Oils
EXCELLENT BUY!! As a herbalist and soap maker, I use a variety of oils from various companies all over the world. The price for these was SO low that I thought, at the very least, I could use them for aroma therapy. They arrived in a beautifully designed box - professionally labeled and WOW was I STUNNED - the fragrance of each one showed very little difference from my finest oils that I have paid MUCH more for! As I am not a chemist - I cannot vouch for the percentages of each constituent, but I can tell you that the oils from the set that I have used thus far - have shown themselves to be just as effective as the high dollar bottle I have bought elsewhere! EXCELLENT Job - I sure hope they restock soon - I am buying MORE!
I wish that the essential oil market was more heavily regulated, however, this is not the case. Many of the "essential oils" and plant oils sold on Amazon and other sites are synthetic, and it is up to the consumer to do their homework and make sure to source from reputable companies that can provide paperwork and lab testing to back up their products. It is up to companies to do their homework as well—and to be transparent with their customers. A good rule of thumb is to ask companies to provide Certificates of Analysis and GC Reports when you order, any reputable essential oil supplier will be able to provide those.
Posted in: Aromatherapy, Natural Healthy & Beauty | Tagged: aromatherapy, aromatherapy 101, best essential oil brans, Christina Anthis, environment, essential oils, green, Green cleaning, Hippie Homemaker, Hippy Homemaker, lavender oil, mlm essential oil scam, mlm essential oils, mlm scam, The Hippy Homemaker, therapeutic grade, therapeutic grade scam, which essential oils to buy
I had been using another brand of Frankincense prior to buying this product, and although I saw some evidence it was working on a suspicious-looking growth that appeared on my arm, it was a slow process. When I purchased this one and began applying it, the difference in quality was very evident. This certified organic Boswellia Serrata (Frankincense) is head and shoulders above any other Boswellia essential oil I have used. It is extracted from the resin.
As far as I can tell, ‘wintergreen oil’ is not listed anywhere by the FDA. Methyl salicylate IS permitted by the FDA as an indirect food additive, when is is a constituent of an adhesive. It is not on their ‘regular’ indirect food additive list – only the one that applies to adhesives. But I can’t see it on any negative list, and I can’t see a maximum permitted amount.
Hi. Faith. Thanks for sharing about NOW essential oils. In the last two months, I have been learning about EOs and bought several NOW oils at GNC, with the initial intent of using them in more natural cleaning products, getting away from many that are chemical-based and hard to breathe when using. I cannot say that they have had any health benefits for me yet, as I am fortunate to not be prone to a lot of illness, but I have bought NOW grapeseed oil and have used lavender in it on my skin, and have used peppermint for headaches, but I am still learning. I did, however, just purchase the NOW diffuser, two actually, which just arrived this past Saturday afternoon, and I have been enjoying blending oils for scent.
One of the problems with companies like doTERRA and Young Living, just as with the pharmaceutical companies, the chemical manufacturers, any other one cares to mention, is that, when they have testing done, they are the ones paying for it and, consequently, tend to receive the results they desire. Like it or not, the one who foots the bill controls the outcome of the studies. Both companies claim to have the ONLY truly pure, therapeutic grade oil. The truth is . . . . bull hockey! The reality is that there is no truth in that statement! Before you start throwing stones at me, please read the rest of what I am writing and make a truly informed decision of your own.
I highly recommend it. If you will take the time to read his information, he clearly shows that many of the “leading” EO companies utilize deceptive marketing to push impure or adulterated EO’s for therapeutic use. He also gives (and references) many non-standard use instructions as well as use in conjunction with herbs. Very good info even if you choose not to purchase EO’s from the site.
The brain plays an important role in the modulation of many symptoms and side effects, such as nausea, pain and stress. Aromatherapy can help patients cope with these problems. In fact, the Massage Therapy Team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital uses several essential oils, including lavender, sweet orange, peppermint and lemon/lime to support the well-being of patients. I’m taking advantage of the mind-body connection right now, diffusing a mixture of spearmint and a proprietary blend called “Breathe” as I write this post. I’m not sure it’s really keeping me on task, but I sure do enjoy the smell.
I love essential oils! I use NOW Oils because they are affordable and easy to find. I think Young Living and DoTerra are over priced marketing scams. I tell everyone I use NOW. I have great success using the more reasonable priced oils and they even make some of their own blends. Highly recommend but everyone needs to find what brand works for them.
Wonderful information! I just started researching oils and I want to use him for my classroom I’ve also wondered about using them around my cats I know some essential oils are not safe for cats I would never put them on topically, however I diffuse them in my bedroom and they sleep with me Do you have any insight on this topic? Thanks again for such great information !!
In the article above this blog there is a link that will take you to 19 essential oils that can be used on babies and children. I looked at it, and the URL is http://www.abundanthealth4u.com Everything I have read about using essential oils on children stresses the importance of proper dilution. Be careful if you decide you want to do this. The word “therapeutic” is tossed around like pizza dough, and it really doesn’t have a scientific meaning when applied to EO’s.
I would like to start using EO in my home now that I am a mom and have become a lot more aware of the harsh chemicals in all of my cleaning supplies, beauty products and air fresheners. I am currently EBF and know that there are certain EO that I should avoid. Does this mean I shouldn’t be exposed to them at all or that I should not use them topically?
“Young Living owns the 4 largest distillers, partners with the next 2 largest, distills on 5 continents, farms much of their own production, is the first company to use oils Intra-muscularly, the first company to use oils intra-venously, the first company to use oils as dietary supplements, is the only company that is AFNOR, EC and ISO certified Therapeutic Grade, their oils never expire, are used topically neat even on day old infants etc…”
One thing I like about Rose Mountain and Organic Infusions is that I can get 30 ml bottles for the EO’s that I use most frequently. They also, both, have a large selection of other products and I’ve found their oils to be good quality. Organic Imfusions labels its products as Certified Organic or just organic, meaning the farm hasn’t been certified. Rocky Mountai Oils has a good selection of oils and blends but not a lot else. Some of their singles I really love but I got a peppermint that smells like cat pee to me. For what it is worth, I still use all 3 of these companies.
"When you smell an essential oil," says Tony Ferrari, Ph.D. in chemistry, "its constituents bind to receptor sites in the nose, which read the aroma molecules and send signals through the olfactory nerve to the limbic system and amygdala in the brain. There are more than 5,000 chemical compounds that make up commonly used oils, each of which binds in a different way to different receptors, so their effects can vary widely."
* Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Axe, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Axe and his community. Dr. Axe encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
The notion of using essential oils as a replacement for standard medical therapy is not new. Today’s essential oils are yesterday’s herbal remedies. They’re your grandmother’s swamp root, your great-grandmother’s liver pills and your great-great-grandmother’s snake oil (hey, at least we made it back to oil). And as in those days, somebody’s getting rich selling their wares. Why? Because there will always be folks who claim they work and others who buy into the claim looking for a quick fix. My question for believers in the crowd: how do you know the remedy really did the job? Runny noses get better. Coughs and bellyaches go away. Rashes clear up, skin heals and behavior fluctuates.
CBD doesn’t intoxicate you. This means that people can enjoy the benefits of medicinal marijuana without having their daily lives impacted. More importantly, CBD does not decrease psychomotor skills or psychological functioning. THC acts on CB1 receptors, the pathways that are responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, whereas CBD does not. The way CBD interacts with receptors also makes it non-addictive. It’s safe to use CBD salve for pain, mental disorders, and inflammation without the fear of undesirable side effects.
Essential oils are often used for aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine in which healing effects are ascribed to aromatic compounds. Aromatherapy may be useful to induce relaxation, but there is not sufficient evidence that essential oils can effectively treat any condition. Improper use of essential oils may cause harm including allergic reactions and skin irritation, and children may be particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of improper use.