Sunday, January 4, 2009
What Are Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils?
Many companies that sell pure essential oils will tell you that they are THERAPEUTIC GRADE. Most of them (about 98%) are not completely truthful, even though they may be pure, they may not necessarily be therapeutic grade and able to be used internally. So if you are unsure, do not under any circumstances ingest any essential oil unless specified by a professional.
I found this while searching for therapeutic grade from Botanical.com (a fantastic resource for aromatherapy information)
What makes an essential oil therapeutic grade?
You know that essential oils are distilled from plants and that they have powerful healing properties.
You know that they are used by massage therapists, for aromatherapy, and even cooking!
But did you know that only 2 percent of essential oils sold in the United States are true Therapeutic Grade?
Standards have been developed by the Association French Normalization Organization Regulation and adopted by the International Standards Organization to distinguish true Therapeutic Grade essential oils from inferior oils merely used for fragrance. This is a growing concern as demand for essential oils increases due to health-conscious consumers desiring to ward off today's stressful lifestyles--thus diminishing the supply.
True Therapeutic essential oils are immune-system stimulating, anti-viral, anti-infectious, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-tumoral and even anti-fungal.
Gas Chromatography Purity Testing
Gas chromatography is the scientific method employed to differentiate imposters from the real McCoys. It measures whether basic components of an essential oil occur in a precise percentage. If only two primary constituents do not meet precise percentages, the oil cannot be AFNOR or ISO certified--although the oil may qualify as Grade A. Gas chromatography can also identify oils that have been synthetically manipulated. At Mountain Rose Herbs, we go the extra mile and request the use of a 50-meter column during gas chromatography testing. Most U.S. labs utilize a 30-meter column, which is adequate for vitamins or minerals--but is certainly not adequate for the chemical complexity of essential oils. An oil's purity can be affected by myriad environmental factors: geographical region, altitude, climate, soil, growing conditions and harvest method and season. Even the time of day the plant is harvested can affect the oil's purity! Producing genuine Therapeutic Grade essential oils is indeed a fine art. We do painstaking research at Mountain Rose Herbs, insisting on knowing harvest location, methods utilized to extract the oils, and data reports assuring the oil's character.
Proper Steam Distillation
The distillation method also affects an essential oil's purity--and Therapeutic Grade oils mandate preserving as many of the plant's compounds as possible. Therapeutic Grade essential oils must only be distilled in stainless steel cooking chambers at lowest possible pressure and lowest possible temperature. Extremely high temperature and high pressure, or contact with chemically reactive metals such as copper or aluminum can quickly destroy delicate compounds. At Mountain Rose Herbs, we even insist on knowing how the vats are cleaned!
Every essential oil offered by Mountain Rose Herbs is 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade. The essential oils we stock are obtained by steam distillation of the plant's volatile oils. And our oils are derived from the first distillation--never the second, third or fourth! The only exception to this rule is our Lavender 40/42, which is a blend of many different lavenders; and absolutes, which are extracted by alcohol. These oils may not suitable for therapeutic aromatherapy, however they are deliciously intoxicating as a fragrance or perfume.
The primary components of 98 percent of all essential oils in the market are synthetic. They should not be used for therapeutic applications, and they potentially carry risks. Only pure essential oils should be used for therapeutic purposes. At best, synthetic oils may not produce desired therapeutic results--at worst, they could possibly be toxic.
Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils are 100% pure, natural plant oils. They are free of added water, alcohol, carriers or other diluents. No chemical solvents are added during distillation, and nothing is added to the oil after distillation. A very large selection of oils offered through Mountain Rose Herbs are certified organic through Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. Although organic certification is an intensely painstaking process that a few of our suppliers are still striving to attain, any oils we stock that are not yet certified organic are guaranteed to be free of pesticide and chemical residues. Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils are wholly suitable for aromatherapy, cosmetics, cooking and body application.
Therapeutic Grade means the essential oil delivers as many of the fragile and original aromatic compound as possible. This starts with choosing the right species of plants, and giving them exactly what they need to thrive, including uncontaminated soil. Also, to guarantee the quality of essential oils, they must be produced equal or to exceed the ISO (International Standards Organization) standards.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are always more expensive than their non-therapeutic grade doubles, so something as simple as checking for the LATIN NAME listed on the label and their price comparison will surely help decipher the dilemma of looking for the right essential oil.